Note: This is a continuation to The Art of Letting Go – part 34.
Saturday finally came, the day of Donya Esmeralda’s birthday celebration. An events coordinator has been hired beforehand to set-up and to organize the celebration with exuberant sophistication and elegance. Close family friends, business partners, LAS staff, Maya’s family and friends were the invitees. Kute, together with Jeff and Cho, arrived Manila on the same day to attend the said celebration.
Maya and her family spent the day at Emman’s condo unit since they have nothing else to do at the mansion and Donya Esme had forbidden them to help with the preparation, reiterating that the events coordinator are the ones to take care of everything and that they should just relax and get ready for the evening’s event. Further, Emman requested that he be the one to do their make-over instead of having them go to a parlor.
By 6PM everyone’s already dressed up for the party. Mamang, Nanay Teresita & Maya all wore floor length evening party dress while the guys including Kute, wore coat and tie. Though Emman would be bringing his own car, not to mention, Simon volunteered to drop by the condo unit with his own car as well, Richard still insisted on going to the condo to fetch Maya. 5 minutes later, knocks were heard on the door. Emman volunteered to open the door.
Seconds later, Richard walks inside and immediately stopped as soon as his eyes fell on Maya, who was standing in the middle of the living room. Richard could only stare, more likely bewitched by Maya’s beauty. She indeed looked more beautiful and elegant in her pleasant long empire sweetheart silk like satin brush train evening dress. Maya on the other hand, was also caught off guard by Richard and could only stare at him, looking more dashing and handsome in his dinner jacket.
Kute cleared her throat. “So magtititigan nalang kayong dalawa jan buong magdamag?” quipped Kute as she looked back and forth from Maya to Richard. Maya immediately blushed hearing Kute’s tease while Richard tried to stifle a laugh.
“Aba eh pagkagwapo-gwapo naman talaga nitong apo ko o!” commented Mamang.
Richard smiled at her in return. “Thank you po Mamang. Kayo din po Mamang. Mas gumanda pa po kayo ngayong gabi.”
Mamang gave him a sensual smile. “Talaga Richard apo? Sabihin mo nga sa akin apo. May maipapakilala ka ba sa aking gwapong binata doon sa party?”
“Mamang!!” Nanay Teresita, Kute, and Maya reprimanded in unison.
Mamang simply shot them a sharp look while the guys are already chuckling at their exchanges. “Ano namang masama kung makipagkilala ako sa isang gwapong binata? Dalaga naman ako at ubod ng ganda. Wala naman sigurong masama kung makikipag-socialize ako mamaya.” Mamang flipped imaginary hair on her left and right shoulders, swaying her head left and right as she did so.
“Wow naman Mang! At may nalalaman ka pang socialize socialize ha! Tignan lang natin kung magawa mo yun mamaya dahil bantay sarado ka sa amin!” countered Kute which made everyone laugh.
“So are you guys ready to go?” asked Richard.
“Oo Richard. Pero teka lang. Si Simon –, o eh ayan na pala siya eh.” As if on cue, Nanay Teresita saw Simon enter the condo unit.
Richard smiled. “So let’s go?”
“Ah Richard, nak, si Maya lang ang sasabay sa’yo. Kay Emman na sasabay itong sila Cristina Rose, Jeff at Cho. Kami naman ni Nanay, kay Simon na kami sasakay.” said Nanay Teresita.
Maya gave her a confused look. “Sigurado kayo Nay? Ayaw niyong sumabay sa amin?”
Kute interjected. “Ah bunso, wag na. Kila Emman at Simon nalang kami sasabay. Bukod sa baka mainggit at langgamin lang kami sa ka-sweetan niyong dalawa ni Richard, baka makasira pa kami ng moment niyong dalawa.”
“Kute!” exclaimed Maya as she started blushing profusely which had everyone laughing.
“Ok sige po. Kung yan po ang gusto niyo.” Richard moved next to Maya and offered his arms which Maya gladly took and hooked her arm to it.
They all went out of the unit and proceeded to the parking area. Richard and Maya deviated from the group as they went to the former’s car. Richard opened the car for her and after closing the door, walked around and settled himself on the driver’s seat. A couple of seconds had already passed but Richard still hasn’t started the car yet.
“What?” asked Maya, breaking the stillness enveloping the both of them as she noticed Richard’s admiring gaze.
Richard smiled lovingly at her and took her hand. “You looked so beautiful, angel. Breathtakingly beautiful.”
Maya blushed once again. “Salamat. Ikaw nga mas lalong gumwapo jan sa suot mo eh.”
Richard smiled lovingly at her and moved himself closer, never taking his eyes off her. Gently, he lifted his hand and softly touched her cheek. “I love you angel.”
Smiling back, “I love you too honey,” she answered.
Closing the gap, Richard’s lips made its way to her lips giving her a long lingering kiss.
“Happy birthday Ma!” greeted Maya as she and Richard reached Donya Esmeralda.
“Oh hija! Salamat!” Donya Esmeralda engulfed her in an embrace and kissed both her cheeks. Holding her shoulders at arms’ length, Donya Esmeralda couldn’t help but be amazed by Maya’s beauty as well. “You look even more beautiful tonight hija! Kaya lalong nai-in love itong si Ricky sa’yo eh,” chuckled Donya Esme.
Maya managed to laugh with Donya Esme despite her blushing. “Oh by the way Ma, this is for you. Gift po namin ni Richard sa inyo.” Maya handed her a small blue pretty gift bag with a ribbon.
“Oh what’s this?” Donya Esmeralda took the gift bag and opened it up. She saw a velvety box inside. As she opened it, she saw a Swarovski by Shourouk Pierced Earrings. Donya Esme gasped at the sight and placed a hand on her chest. “Oh they’re beautiful!” She tenderly looked at Maya and hugged her once more. “Thank you dear. But you really didn’t have to. Sabi ko naman dito kay Ricky, ang mapapayag ka lang niya na makasal ka sa kanya ay enough na birthday gift na sa akin. Nag-abala pa kayo.”
Richard rolled his eyes at the thought. “Hay nako Ma! I’ve already told her that time and again, kaso ang kulit eh. Ayaw pumayag na wala kaming mabigay na something special for you. Siya pa talaga ang naghanap niyan para sayo.”
“Awww. That’s really so sweet of you hija. Thank you so much talaga. I really love it.”
“I’m glad na nagustuhan niyo po Ma,” smiled Maya.
“Ang mabuti pa, pumunta na tayo sa table natin cause the program will start anytime soon.” All three went to their table where they were joined by Don Roberto and the rest of the dela Rosa clan.
A few minutes later, the host for the said event took the stage, welcomed and greeted everyone who attended the said party. As he started, he called on the birthday celebrant Donya Esmeralda and had everyone sing her happy birthday. As she reached the stage, an elegant three-layered cake was brought in front of her. After singing the birthday song, Donya Esme closed her eyes for a few seconds then blew the candles.
“First of all, I’d like to thank everyone for coming here tonight and celebrate with us my 57th birthday. I’m really glad na napaunlakan niyo ang aming imbitasyon. Tonight, my family and I are not only celebrating my birthday, but we are also celebrating and giving thanks to another blessing that the Lord had bestowed to our family. We are blessed and thankful for He has given us an addition to our family, He had provided us with a daughter. Oh yes folks! I am 5 months pregnant and my ultrasound indicated that my husband and I are having a baby girl!” announced Donya Esme.
After hearing the announcement, Donya Esme saw some surprised gasps, heard congratulatory messages and whispers. A couple of seconds later, Donya Esme went on to withdraw her statement. “Joke! Joke!! Joke!!” chuckled Donya Esmeralda which earned a roll of laughter from the guests and some even clapped their hands in amusement.
“Seriously folks, we have been blessed with an additional member to our family which we can never be thankful enough and can never be proud of. So without further ado, I’d like to call on my son and his fiancée Maya.”
Richard stood up and reached out to Maya. As he held her hand, he felt it cold and sensed that she is tensed and nervous at the same time. “Relax. I’m here. Everything will be fine,” he whispered and smiled reassuringly at her. Maya smiled back. With hands entwined, they walked towards the stage were Donya Esme was.
“Ladies & gentlemen, I would like to call for a toast.” Donya Esme took a glass of champagne and raised it in mid-air. “To the newly engaged couple. My son Ricky and my soon to be daughter-in-law, Maya. Cheers!”
“Cheers!” announced everyone and started drinking their champagnes. A couple of seconds later, clinking and chants were heard. “Kiss! Kiss!! Kiss!!”
“Oh! Ricky, Maya, I know you wouldn’t want to disappoint our guests,” teased Donya Esme.
Richard simply smiled at his mother while Maya was already blushing profusely. Grabbing the microphone from his mom, “I’d love to concede to your request guys pero syempre, since we are celebrating my mom’s birthday, dapat sila din ni Papa ay may kiss.”
Don Roberto was caught off-guard and was shocked by Richard’s announcement while Donya Esme who’s always been game and on the go, simply laughed and looked at her husband eagerly. Seeing the expectant smile from her wife and their guests, Don Roberto finally succumbed to their requests, went onstage and gave Donya Esmeralda a quick kiss on her lips followed by a tight hug, much to everyone’s delight.
Taking the microphone back, “So Ricky, I guess it’s now your turn,” said Donya Esme to her son.
Richard smiled at her mother and turned to look at Maya who’s been desperately trying hard to hide her thoroughly flushed face. Gently, he tilted her chin and had her meet his gaze. A second later, he lowered his lips to hers and gave her the kiss they’ve been waiting for. Everyone cheered and applauded while Richard collected Maya in his arms for a tight embrace.
Unknown to them, a pair of angry eyes are shooting daggers at them the whole time.
As dinner is finally served, a number of waiters walked around to serve food to the guests. Donya Esmeralda, together with Don Roberto, walked from one table to another, making sure that their guests are comfortable enough and getting everything that they needed.
“O bunso! Pano ba yan. Nai-anunsyo na sa lahat ang tungkol sa engagement niyo ni Richard. Wala ka na talagang kawala pa ngayon,” teased Kute.
Since Richard was also seating with them together with the rest of the dela Rosa clan, Emman, and Simon, Maya decided to tease Richard as well. “Oo nga eh. Pero marami pa namang pwedeng mangyari eh. Hindi pa naman kami kasal ni Richard kaya malay natin.”
Richard almost choked on his food hearing what Maya just said and shot up his head and looked at her in utter disbelief.
Maya looked at him and tried her best not to laugh at him at the moment. “What?” she asked.
“Are you hearing yourself? Do you even know what you’re saying?” asked Richard in an exasperated tone.
“Oo naman! Last time I checked, okay pa naman ang senses ko. Wala pa namang pumapalya kaya alam na alam ko pa ang mga sinasabi ko.” Maya fighting so hard to remain casual and not give in to laughter.
Richard narrowed his gaze to her. “Really angel?”
“Yes!” beamed Maya.
Richard smiled sweetly at her. “Well then my dear angel, sorry to disappoint you pero wala ng mangyayaring kung ano mang possibilities. Bukas na bukas din pupunta tayo sa City Hall to have us married kahit civil wedding lang for the mean time.”
It was Maya’s turn this time to be surprised and look at him in utter disbelief. “Seriously?” she asked.
“Yes,” answered Richard casually. “Sabi mo nga, marami pang pwedeng mangyari bago tayo makasal so why will I let those possibilities take their opportunity to intervene kung pwede naman nating magawan ng paraan para hindi sila mangyari.”
“Eh pero –“
“Ayaw mo? Well, I have another idea. We can start making a baby if ayaw mo pa munang magpakasal,” grinned Richard naughtily.
“Richard!” exclaimed Maya as she slapped his arm in embarrassment.
“Baby?” asked Mamang. “Ibig sabihin ba niyan apo mabibigyan mo na kami ng apo ni Teresita?”
“Mamang! Hindi pa po mangyayari yan!” Maya’s cheeks are already burning red in sheer embarrassment.
“Don’t worry Mamang. We’ll work on it right away!” teased Richard further.
“Aba! Richard apo! Aasahan ko yan! Naku pihadong pagka-gwapo gwapo at pagka-ganda ganda ng mga magiging apo ko sa inyo. Gusto ko madami ha!” exclaimed Mamang some more.
“Gusto niyo Mamang kahit isang basketball team pa!” grinned Richard.
“Richard Lim!!” growled Maya which simply earned a laugh from everyone. “Nakakainis ka na ha!”
Richard laughed at her obvious discomfort. He closed the gap between them and playfully pinched her nose. “Ikaw kasi angel, inaasar mo pa ako.”
Maya simply stuck out her tongue at him making them laugh even more.
Maya excused herself and went to the bathroom to pee and retouch. As she was on her way back to their table, Stephanie appeared out of nowhere and cut her off from her steps.
“Hello there Maya,” greeted Stephanie with an edge of disgust in her voice.
Maya remained composed and collected. “Hello Stephanie.” Maya smiled at her and tried to walk past her but Stephanie easily blocked her path.
“Leaving so soon?” A smug look on her face.
With a smile still on Maya’s face, “I’m sorry Stephanie. But my family and fiancée are already waiting for me. I need to go back to our table now, if you don’t mind.”
“Not so fast Maya. I just want to say a couple of things to you.” Maya stood still and waited for Stephanie to speak. “If you think you’ve already won, well, you’re wrong. Sorry dear, but sooner or later, magsasawa din sa’yo si Richard and if that happens, he’ll once again come running back to me where he truly belongs.” Stephanie stood her ground and showed poise and grace despite the lies she just uttered.
Because Maya had been firmly grounded by Richard’s assurances and love, she has not been swayed a bit by Stephanie’s lies. With sophisticated grace and elegance, she confidently faced Stephanie and called her bluff off.
“Thank you for the advice Stephanie. I know Richard. And I don’t think you know him the way that I do because if you really do know him, you wouldn’t be saying these things to me. I know he would’ve told you upfront that you and he weren’t going anywhere, because he wouldn’t want to lead you on. And just a piece of advice Stephanie, you’re never going to have him the way you want. And I know that hurts and I can’t help but be sorry for you, I really am.”
“Fuck you and your pity,” she snapped. “Save it for yourself.”
Maya maintained the same sophistication she pulled up from the start. “If you don’t want my pity, then stop acting like you’re asking for one. Stop acting like a loveless bitch who shamelessly begs for attention ‘cause you’ll never get it from Richard. Oh! And don’t worry, you’ve already got my attention. As a matter of fact, I already made it a point to set aside our wedding invitation made specially for you. Ayoko namang ma-miss mo ang pinaka-importanteng occasion sa buhay namin. I’m pretty sure you’d want to witness it firsthand. Oh my! Masyado tayong napasarap sa usapan natin. Now if you would excuse me Stephanie, I’ve got a fiancée who’s waiting for me. Enjoy the rest of the evening.” Maya moved her heels leaving a furious, irritated and humiliated Stephanie behind.