Author’s Note: I was looking at my revision history… The following was actually something that began back in April. It was just a title that I wrote in my idea log. Then a few weeks later, a general idea was formed. And as life occurred, it was abandoned. Then some friends asked me *coughharassedcough* me to publish, so I blew off the dust and came up with this.
Please note that this piece does not intend to mirror the current happenings in our favourite show. It’s been a while. Please be gentle.
FF4, thanks for all the cute love… :p
Streaks of lightning sliced through the windows, while claps of thunder echoed through the mansion walls. And overhead, the raindrops hammered against the shingles with forceful rhythm.
The storm was here.
But what was brewing outside was nowhere near as alarming as the storm that was about to unfold before him.
There he stood at the bottom of the stairs, a good metre and a half away from her. She, with daggers shooting from her eyes, stood with her arms crossed across her chest. And he, with frustration etched on his face, stood defiantly with his hands on his hips.
“Ano ngayon?” she questioned, narrowing her eyes. “Wala kang masabi?”
Irritation was evident in every syllable she uttered. Why wouldn’t it be? Even after all the reasons she provided him for why it wasn’t necessary, he had gone ahead without her knowledge.
Richard dropped his hands from his hips as she began tapping her foot, waiting for him to answer. Being defensive was not going to get him into her good graces. He took a step forward as one hand reached out to her shoulder. “Maya,” he began gently, hoping that she would at least hear him out. “Gusto ko lang naman kasi…”
Her scoff cut off the rest of his words. She shrugged his arm off her and took a step back. “So, kung gusto mo, yun na yun?” Her glare challenged him to provide a damn good answer.
Crap, he thought. He had used the wrong words. Again.
He just could not get it right these days. For what seemed like the past two weeks, Richard has had to calculate his response in every conversation with Maya. If his comment didn’t make her annoyed, it made her emotional. If it didn’t make her teary, it made her angry. Words, phrases and jokes which he used to say to make her smile were now causing offense.
Yet in the end, no matter how puzzled and taken aback he was, he let it go. Richard knew that even though many months had passed, she was still grieving for the loss of Mamang. She avoided letting herself mourn, excusing she had to be strong for the rest of her family. Add to that the stress work was causing due to new management. And of course, all the changes that came with being a newlywed. In other words, Richard had to be understanding.
He bit his lip as he searched for the right response. “I just wanted to…” he began. He heard her tsk causing him to realize that he just said the exact same thing – only in English.
Maya shook her head at his attempt to rectify the scenario and turned abruptly to head up the stairs. She didn’t want to hear any more of his selfish explanations. She needed to see what he had gone and done.
Richard let out a sigh before taking the stairs two at a time to follow behind her. “Maya, please…” he said, grabbing her left wrist as she reached the top of the stairs. He held his breath for what seemed like too long before she reacted.
She turned slowly. And when he saw the glimmer of unshed tears in her eyes, he almost wished she hadn’t.
Richard hated to see her cry. He hated it more so when he knew he was part of the reason behind it. And lately, it was happening too often.
He cursed at himself before pulling her into his arms. “I’m sorry,” he whispered into her hair. Amidst the clamour of mother nature outside, the sob she let out into his shoulder reverberated in Richard’s ear and crushed his heart.
He let her go only to quickly lean in and kiss the droplets that rolled down her cheek. Using his pointer finger, he lifted her chin so he could look into her eyes. “Stop crying now, please?” he said, taking care to keep his tone soft.
“Bakit?” she said with a sniffle.
“Because I’m very, very sorry, Maya.”
She wiped the last of her tears with the heel of her hand. “So, ganun lang yun? Nagsorry ka, tapos dapat okay na?” she retorted. She couldn’t get over it for some reason. Then again, she thought they had agreed.
“Please, Maya,” he pleaded. “It was supposed to be a surprise but I had to tell you now because I need to know what you think of the floor plan.”
She smirked. She was amused at the irony of his words.
Richard, however, saw the slight upturn of her lips and assumed it was a positive reaction. Excitedly, he led her towards the master bedroom. His left hand began to reach for the door handle but stopped when he felt her tug on his right.
“Yes?” he asked.
“Sigurado ka?” she threw back.
“Of what?” He was confused.
“Na kailangan mo yung opinion ko?”
“Of course I want to know what you think.” Smiling down at the simple band and rock that adorned her right hand, he continued, “You are my wife, what you say has a lot of weight on wh-”
She cut him off again. “Kasi nung isang linggo hiningi mo din ang opinion ko pero eto ngayon, ginawa mo parin ang gusto mo.” She frowned to emphasize her dislike for what happened.
“Nagsorry na ako diba?” Richard rubbed his forehead as frustration crawled back. She was nitpicking at everything he said. Without thought he added, “Seriously, do I have to beg?”
His sarcasm wasn’t lost on her. In fact, it hit just the right nerve. Her heartbeat quickened and her hands instinctively balled into fists. It angered her that he didn’t get it. But instead of a blasting out words of fury, the pool of tears she had been holding back rushed out.
“Awww, come on, Maya. Don’t be like that…” he cried, as she stepped around him, bumping into his shoulder, before disappearing into the master bedroom. The slam of the door in his face was magnified by the series of thunderous crackles that filled the air.
Maya stomped into the room blindly and sat on the floor. She leaned back on the bed’s footboard and sobbed into her hands. Like the scene outside the window, her tears poured on heavily.
She didn’t really mean to be so dramatic but she just couldn’t control her emotions.
She knew she should be thankful for having a husband who was sensitive enough to plan a surprise, however, in this case, the feeling of displeasure was stronger. It irritated her that she was overruled on the first major decision they had made together as husband and wife.
They had agreed. They had planned everything. And this wasn’t part of it. Nor was it part of their budget.
She knew money was not an issue to the President of Lim Aviation – after all, business was better than ever. The point was, they had agreed to spend only what was needed for the start of their new life together. They had sat down together and enumerated all the expenses for the wedding celebration and for the changes that would occur thereafter. It was hashed out then and both assented to the plan.
When he brought up the idea again a week ago, she had reminded him of their initial agreement: renovating the master bedroom was deemed not necessary. Yet here it was.
She lifted her head slowly from her hands and looked around to examine the changes. The plain white walls were now a soft yellow. Gone was the desk by the ceiling-to-floor window. In it’s place was a breakfast table for two, complete with fresh sunflowers in the porcelain vase bought on their honeymoon trip to China.
She shifted in her seat and looked at what was behind her. The queen platform was replaced with a king sized sleigh bed, stained with the same rich tone as the rest of the furniture. She scrunched her face at this change.
And then she noticed another new addition. A small sob escaped her when she saw that the space of the unfeeling, weathered ebony cabinet was now occupied with a familiar, dark walnut Queen Anne armoire. Maya’s heart sank and flew at the sight of it.
“Just because the bed’s bigger, it doesn’t mean you sleep farther away from me.”
She didn’t notice him enter the room. And she didn’t react to his statement. Too bad if that was his effort to lighten the mood.
He walked to where she was and placed himself down beside her on the floor. She quickly wiped the tears from her eyes and scooted over to give space between them.
A few moments of silence passed before Richard let out a deep breath. “You have the right to be mad,” he admitted.
She let out a small laugh. “Talaga?”
“I was wrong. We already said we wouldn’t pero ginawa ko parin.”
“Alam mo naman pala…” she muttered under her breath.
He shifted on the carpet rug, closing the gap much to her dislike. “This is our room, which means what it contains should represent both you and me.” He nodded towards the armoire that sat in the corner. “I had it transported here and re-stained.”
Maya felt her heart constrict. This armoire was from San Nicolas. From her home. From her grandmother.
“I was told how much this means to you,” he said. “…and I realize now, from the way you are looking at it, why you connect with it. It’s not just who it’s from, it’s what it is. In many ways, it’s like you.”
She turned to face him for the first time, raising her eyebrow. Elaborate, she said silently.
“It’s beautiful to look at,” he continued.
She could not disagree with his observation of how exquisite the design was. As for the comparison to her, she still wasn’t sure where he was going with it.
“It’s practical. It’s feminine but strong. Simple but elegant. O-”
“Old?” she said, snapping her head around to look at him. It was her turn to be sarcastic.
“No.” He smiled at her retort. “I was going to say – obviously timeless.”
She felt her heart soften a little bit. She pulled her knees closer to her as if it would prevent her from giving in to his – as much as she wanted to deny it – rather sweet explanation. “Okay naman na yung dating dresser natin,” she said, trying to keep her voice flat.
“I know,” he agreed. “But I also know that you’ve laid claim to this since you were a child.”
“Sino naman nagsabi sa’yo niyan?” She posed the question though she already knew who his resource would have been. Cristina Rose. His response confirmed her inkling. “At yung ibang changes? Bakit?”
“Consider it my wedding gift to you.”
She sighed. “Kailangan ba na may regalo pag ikinasal ka sa isang tao? Hindi pa ba sapat yung pagmamahal na binibigay niyo sa isa’t isa?” There was an edge to her tone again.
He took a chance and put an arm around her shoulder. She didn’t nudge it off and so he spoke, “Would it make you feel better if I say it’s more of a wedding gift for both of us?”
“Anong ibig mong sabihin?” she queried. Her head felt heavy from all the crying. She let her head lean on his shoulder, but told herself she was still angry. Maybe.
Richard’s eyes swept across the room while images of how it used to look scrolled through his head. The room was no longer serious, square, cold. Because of Maya, it now had character, life, colour.
Like his life.
Richard kissed the top of her head and inhaled the lavender scent of her hair. “For years and months I would wake up to the same mundane white walls in an icy room, reminding me that I was alone.” There was a slight tremble in his voice. “Sometimes when you’re at work, when you’re not beside me, I open my eyes to the same scene and it scares me…because maybe you were just a dream…”
Her heart skipped a beat. She understood exactly what he meant. Sometimes, she too could not believe that this was her reality. That this wonderful fairy tale was indeed her life. She reached up to intertwine her hand with his that rested on her shoulder. “Hindi ito panaginip, Sir Chief.”
And because he felt the love in her words, he believed it. She was here. She was his. She was real.
Together they sat just like that, without a word as they looked out the window before them. The drops of rain now played an adagio beat. The notes of thunder faded. And disco light effect of the sky disappeared into darkeness.
The storm was dying down.
“Forgive me?” he said softly.
Maya smiled to herself. “Medyo…” She turned her head up to look at him. She wanted him to see and understand where she was coming from. “Sir Chief, hindi ako nagalit dahil ginusto mong irenovate ang room. Naiintindihan ko na kung bakit.” She frowned.
She sharpened her tone. “Nakakaasar lang dahil napagusapan na natin. Tapos na e…”
She raised her voice. “Naplano na!”
“I was wrong…”
“Pero binalewala mo yung opinion ko…yung decision nating dalawa!” She let out a big breath. There. It was out.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “It won’t happen again.”
She looked into his eyes and knew. He didn’t need to elaborate for her to know that this time, it was heartfelt. Unlike his previous apologies, there was no frustration or sarcasm. His tone was genuine, his eyes were sincere.
And quite frankly, she was exhausted. Tired from work and tired of being angry. But there was one more thing on her mind.
“Mangyayari pa ulit…” she stated.
“No.” He let go of her hand and turned her so their bodies were square. He learned his lesson. He didn’t want to see the tigress in her again. At least not like that. But mostly, he didn’t want to see her upset.
“Once we’ve made a decision together, I will consult you first with any changes,” he added, even raising his right hand as if it was a pledge. “…unless it concerns our safety. Then I reserve the right to make decisions then and there.” His eyes flashed a warning that she couldn’t argue with his last statement and she didn’t.
He finished with, “But, promise-promise, no more big surprises.”
She looked seriously at her husband. “May isa pang nangyari na hindi ayon sa plano natin.”
Richard was puzzled. His mind raced through everything that happened in the past week that she was away. He had not done anything else, not changed anything else, not so much as thought of anything else but her, the kids and the renovations. “What do you mean?” he questioned. “I didn’t do anything.”
Maya couldn’t keep up the serious expression anymore. Her lips turned up into a grin and her eyes widened with excitement. “Meron! May ginawa ka pa,” she said cheerily.
“Wala akong ginawa,” he defended. She watched his face set into deep contemplation.
She took her arms and wrapped them around his neck. “Actually,” she began, with a little giggle. “Ginawa natin…”
Richard’s eyes questioned Maya’s. To answer him, she lowered her gaze to her stomach. When she looked up again, he was smiling too.
“Seryoso ka ba?” he asked, happily.
Maya barely had time to nod before she was pulled into a tight embrace. He couldn’t help but chuckle with glee as her news sank in.
They had planned to wait till the following year before trying to have a baby. They had agreed it would give them time to adjust, prepare and time to enjoy each other’s company. Becoming pregnant after only two months as husband and wife was not part of their plan. Yet here it was.
He heard her sniffle. He let her go and looked into her tear-filled eyes. “I hope those are tears of joy,” he commented. “Siguro naman hindi ka galit na nabago itong plan na ito?”
She shook her head, letting out a small laugh. “Hindi. Sobrang saya ko lang. Alam mo yun? Parang, wow…diko maexplain.” She wiped the drops rolling down her cheek with the back of her hand.
“When did you find out?” he asked.
“Kanina lang. Bago mo ako sinundo.” She scrunched her nose up at him. “Sasabihin ko na sana sayo sa kotse kaya lang inunahan mo ako sa news mo kaya yun naga-”
“Oops, dika na pwedeng magalit,” he said. “Wait, when is he due?”
“He talaga?” she said. Her tone seemed offended but the glimmer in her eyes was teasing. “Sabi ng doctor mga seven weeks na ako. So magiging kabirth month ni Luke.”
He counted the months in his head and a mix of delirious excitement and slight panic filled him. His mind went through all the things they needed to do to prepare. “We need to renovate for a nursery,” he stated.
“Renovations?” she repeated, with a raised eyebrow.
Richard cupped her face in his hands. “Don’t worry, ikaw ang magdedecide sa lahat ng mangyayaring changes sa room.” He leaned in to seal his words with a kiss.
Maya pulled her head back causing his lips to smack only the air. “Hindi,” she said when he looked at her inquisitively. “Dapat tayong dalawa. Together.”
“Together,” he agreed. Then he moved quickly to kiss her. And this time, she didn’t resist.
Instead, she lifted her face towards his descending lips. He touched his mouth to hers gently, testing then tasting her strawberry lips. As he deepened the kiss, he curved one hand around her neck and the other cradled her back as he deftly lowered them to lay on the brand new rug.
As her head hit the floor, she opened her eyes and pushed him away a little. She giggled as he groaned at the interruption. “Kaya mo ba binili itong rug?” she teased.
A mischievous smile spread across his thin lips. “Sort of…”
“You could say the rug was part of my fantasy floorplan…” Maya blushed at his admission but he left no time for her to dwell, as he covered her shocked lips for another expert kiss.
A whimper escaped her when they broke apart, but he didn’t go far. He touched his lips to her forehead and breathlessly spoke the undeniable truth. “I love you, Maya.”
Without thought or doubt, she replied, “I love you, Sir Chief ko.”
He slid down a moment, gently kissed her bare stomach and whispered, “I know you can’t hear me, but Daddy loves you too…” How Maya felt as she watched this interaction was too powerful for words. She was beyond blessed.
“So…” he began as he slid back up to be face to face with her. “Despite the fact that your surprise clearly trumps mine, I will ask anyway. What do you think?” They both glanced around their redecorated sanctuary.
“Maganda siya,” she replied. “Thank you sa pagdala sa aparador.”
“You’re welcome.” He tucked a stray hair behind her ear.
“Pero dapat next time, tayong dala-”
“Tapos na diba?” he interrupted. He covered her lips with his to quiet her, but she would have none of it.
Pushing him away with the heel of her hand against his shoulder, she gave him a warning look. “Alam mo? Hindi pwedeng palagi mong idadaan ang pagsosorry sa kiss…”
“Who say’s I’m saying sorry?” he said, with feigned innocence. “I’m saying thank you for my surprise.”
And there, to the tune of the breeze sweeping outside their window, beneath the filtered light of the moon, they celebrated.
There were no more secrets, no more anger, no more frustration and no more tears. There was just the two of them and the promise they had created together which lay within her.
There was no discussion needed. No planning required. What followed was a mutual choice.
Their lips connected in a tango. Hard then soft. Fast then slow. Loud then quiet.
Their hands caressing in a melodic sequence. Searching and finding. Giving and taking.
Their bodies moved in perfect harmony. Together, they relived the steps that resulted in their soon to be bundle of joy.
And their hearts, happy in celebration, danced with every beat.
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