This is a continuation of Learning to Love Again – Chapter 7
Uh oh. Richard thought to himself.
Richard felt the familiar discomfort that had long been dormant in him. It had been way too long.
Richard stood staring as Maya removed her robe and folded it neatly on a chair. She then turned towards the pool and looked at him shyly.
His eyes widened when Maya looked at him. He quickly stepped backwards, trying to go to a deeper part of the pool, in an attempt to ‘cover’ himself.
Maya walked over to the pool to where Richard was waiting. But to her surprise, he backed away as she started moving towards him.
Suddenly, there was a splash as Richard lost his footing, in his attempt to move backwards quickly.
His head resurfaced a moment later, looking rather sheepish. Maya couldn’t stop herself from laughing at him.
“Richard! Ano bang nangyayari sa yo?” Maya asked as she tried to stop herself from laughing even harder when he gave an exaggeratedly hurt look.
“Wala. Nadulas na nga yung tao, pagtatawanan mo pa,” he replied accusingly, but grateful for the surprise distraction of getting his head dunked in the pool, his ‘growing’ problem now solved.
“Eh bakit ka ba kasi lumalayo?” Maya asked petulantly. “Pangit ba yung suot ko?”
Richard swallowed. “Ah, no of course not. I was just…. uh, I mean, I really like your swimsuut. Bagay na bagay sa yo,” he finished lamely. He immediately changed the subject. “Tara, dun na tayo sa may slide. Inaantay ka na ni Abby.”
Richard inhaled slowly and exhaled loudly, forcing himself to relax as Maya waded beside him. The string of her bikini top was lopsidedly tied, and his fingers were itching to pull at it and… well, re-tie it, of course.
He gave himself a mental kick. Richard, watch it. You’re acting like a lovesick teenager. Lovesick? Or maybe just hormonal. He was troubled by his thoughts. Well, I suppose it’s normal for a man to feel this way when he’s with a beautiful and sexy woman. Attraction? Sure. He was definitely attracted to her. But love is still too deep, too important a word to even consider using, for someone he had known for less than a week.
Maya and the kids had a great time. Aside from the pool with the giant slides, they tried all the other pools in the resort. By eleven am, the sun was beating down on them already so Richard told them to get out of the water and have an early lunch. They went back to the villa to eat the sandwiches and pica-pica that Manang Fe prepared.
Richard, on the other hand, felt strange all morning. He didn’t know how to act around Maya. He was definitely interested in getting closer to her. At the same time, he was nervous about what he was getting into. He knew she had given her whole heart to Simon years ago. He didn’t know if she would even consider opening her heart to anyone again. If he made his intentions known and she didn’t like it, he might lose not just an indispensable member of his team, but a good friend as well.
After lunch, Richard took Maya and the kids to see the future site of the new LAS hangar then went to do some shopping. After a quick snack, they went back to Fontana and spent the rest of the afternoon in the pools again.
They had dinner at a nearby place called The Verandah, enjoying the cool evening breeze and the live music.
Richard watched his youngest daughter all day, marveling at how she had taken to Maya. His quiet and shy Abby had been beside Maya all day, for every meal, for every activity. He has never seen Abby so happy and so talkative. She truly seemed to come out of her shell when she was with Maya. Now, she was leaning against Maya after finishing her dessert.
“Daddy, I had a great time today,” she told him through half-closed eyes.
“I’m glad you did, baby,” he replied softly. He then turned to the rest of the group “Mukhang inaantok na si Abby. Maybe we should head back to the villa?” Everyone nodded, all full, sleepy and tired as well.
On the drive back, Abby fell asleep in Maya’s arms. When they arrived, Luke and Nikki got down from the car immediately. Luke brought their bags down while Nikki went ahead to the girls’ room to turn on the aircon.
“Richard, gigisingin ko ba si Abby?” Maya asked as Richard was about to step out of the car.
“Don’t wake her anymore, Maya. I’ll just carry her to your room.” Richard opened the back door and the sight melted his heart.
Maya held Abby in her arms, watching her sleep and gently stroking her hair. Abby was snuggled against her chest, sleeping contentedly. To someone who didn’t know them, they looked like mother and child. He knew now that this was not just plain attraction. His heart suddenly felt so full.
Richard smiled at Maya as she guided Abby into his arms.
Richard could not resist allowing his hands to brush against Maya’s arms as he took Abby from her. He heard her sharp intake of breath as it happened, but she said nothing.
He lifted Abby and walked into the villa with Maya at his heels. He turned into the girls’ room and placed Abby in the middle of the bed.
Maya sat beside her and automatically removed her shoes and socks. Then she opened the closet and got Abby’s pajamas. Richard stayed and watched her as she expertly dressed the sleeping child without waking her up.
“Maya, ang galing mo pala magbihis ng bata,” he observed.
“Hmmmph, at hindi mo man lang ako tinulungan!” she replied with a pretend pout.
“Eh, nakakatuwa ka panoorin eh, parang expert na expert,” Richard replied smiling.
“Sanay talaga ako dyan. Madalas ako ang nagpapaligo at magbihis nung pamangkin kong si Cho nung maliit pa sya,” Maya replied with a smile.
“Um Maya, matutulog ka na ba?” Richard asked, hoping they could spend some time together.
“Well, di pa naman ako inaantok. Saka naliligo pa si Nikki, aantayin ko pa sya matapos kasi maliligo din sana ako.”
“Ako din, inaantay ko pa si Luke matapos sa banyo. Do you want to join me outside muna?”
They went out to the back. It was still cool but the breeze had stopped blowing. Maya looked at the empty swimming pool. Richard followed her gaze.
“Have you ever tried a Jacuzzi, Maya?”
“Yes, that one,” he pointed to the small round pool beside the bigger one.
“Ah, Jacuzzi pala yun. Akala ko maliit na kiddie pool,” she chuckled.
“I was planning to try it tonight actually. It’s very relaxing.”
“Yes, little jets of water come out from the sides, parang massage sya. And the water is warm.”
“Mmmm, parang masarap nga.”
“Tara?” Richard asked, grinning like a boy.
“Sige na! Mawawala ang pagod mo, promise.”
“Sigurado ka? Eh gabi na, baka magkasakit naman tayo nyan!”
“Hindi tayo magkakasakit, mainit naman yung tubig eh. Promise, you’ll enjoy it. Sige na, magpalit ka na ng pang swimming. I’ll turn the jacuzzi on and I’ll meet you back here in 5 minutes.”
Maya nodded and they both went back in to change.
Maya came out in a swimsuit, covered by her robe. Richard was already in the Jacuzzi which was now bubbling.
“Come in, Maya. The water feels good.”
Maya removed her robe and got into the water.
It was warm and relaxing, just as he promised. She sat across from him, sinking up to her neck in the water. She closed her eyes and sighed.
The bubbles prevented Richard from seeing the rest of her body. But he watched her face as she closed her eyes and slowly relax.
Richard leaned back and closed his eyes as well.
Maya was happily sitting in the warm water when suddenly, she felt something touch her toes. Her eyes flew open. Richard was still sitting across from her, leaning back with eyes closed.
She frowned and wiggled her toes carefully, trying to feel what it was that touched her toes. She moved her toes around the object then gasped when she realized, it was Richard’s foot.
Richard opened his eyes, making Maya quickly shut her eyes, feigning innocence. He smiled and raised an eyebrow. Then he deliberately covered her toes with his, gently stroking the top of her foot.
Maya opened her eyes in surprise and found Richard’s piercing stare on her. She inhaled and held her breath, returning his gaze, not able to tear herself away.
“Maya…” Richard whispered as he sat up and moved towards her.
Maya found herself drawn to him. She sat up as well and met him at the center of the pool, not breaking the eye contact.
With a trembling hand, she reached up and brushed away the hair plastered to his forehead. Richard caught her hand and noticed the tremor. He held her hand in his for a moment, then kissed it.
“Maya, I know things seem to be happening too fast. And I won’t blame you if you walk away from me now. I… I just have to tell you that whatever this is… what we have between us… I like it, Maya. I felt it from the start, that you and I are destined for each other…
“Richard,” Maya cut in softly. “Ang fate o destiny, nasa isip lang yan ng tao. May mga taong sabi nila pinagtagpo ng tadhana, pero sa huli, naghihiwalay din.”
“Are you talking about you and Simon?”
Maya shook her head. “Hindi, Richard. Hindi kami ni Simon. Sina Nanay at Tatay. Natatakot akong marinig yang salitang fate o destiny. Sabi ng Tatay ko, pinagtagpo sila ni Nanay ng tadhana. Lagi ko yun naririnig sa kanya. Tapos nung umalis sya papuntang Dubai, may nakilala syang ibang babae, na sobrang kinabaliwan nya. Iniwan nya kami, Richard. Sabi nya destiny daw nyang makilala at mahalin yung babaeng yun,” Maya told him sadly, tears gently rolling down her cheeks. “Ayokong magtiwala sa tadhana, Richard.”
“Maya, I believe that fate sometimes brings people together. But ultimately, it’s the choices we make that determine our destiny, our future. Your father made his choice.” Richard held her face in his hands, her tears mixing with the warm water of the pool. But her eyes bravely held his gaze.
Maya’s mind was a whirlwind of emotions as Richard stood there cupping her face. She looked into his eyes and saw nothing but honesty.
“We make choices all our life, Maya,” Richard spoke softly. “And right now, I’ve made a choice too… to let go of the past and try again. This is my choice, Maya.” With that, Richard closed that final gap between them and lowered his lips onto hers.
Maya felt light-headed as Richard’s lips found hers. He touched them together lightly, not wanting to frighten her. Richard held back, knowing that rushing things was not an option with Maya. She had too many issues, too many misgivings. She needed time. But he also needed to tell her how he felt.
He pulled back and looked at Maya. She looked confused yet he saw the fire in her eyes. His heart leaped for joy.
“We should go back inside and get some rest, Maya,” Richard told her as he noticed the wind picking up again. Maya nodded in reply, not trusting her voice. He helped her out of the Jacuzzi and put the robe around her. They slowly made their way back inside the villa.
To be continued… 🙂