A/N: Thank you to EBU admins for maintaining this site for wannabe writers like yours truly. Thank you to Ms Alpha Grace and Ms Chuchy for critically reviewing my work prior to submission or posting.
Yesterday was a veritable emotional roller coaster ride. One minute she was still coming to terms with how fast their relationship progressed and then she felt fearful for Richard’s constant air travel. This subsided as she permitted herself to feel hope that they can be happy together before experiencing the excruciating pain of seeing him with another woman. That tableau made her so furious that she wanted to lash out at Richard. Yet somehow, she ended up on the chaise with him making love to her instead. Even just the memory of it was so sizzlingly sensual that Maya could only wonder at the liberties she had been allowing Richard over her body.
That was a laughable term in her case. She has been in no frame of mind to ‘allow’ for anything for she could not even think each time he kissed and caressed her. Put simply, she loses control whenever he’s around. It was like an addiction that gets momentarily satiated each time Richard makes love to her, only to hunger for more, later. And to her shame, she was addicted to Richard’s brand of pleasure.
Maya visibly shuddered as her nerve endings tingled at the memory of him ‘tasting’ her. While she may have first encountered the term cunnilingus in psychology class as a teen, Maya was not prepared for its actuality. Richard had touched and kissed her most intimately that he saw everything there is to see!
Wala ka nang maipagmamalaki, Maya! Nakita na niya pati kaluluwa mo!
Maya groaned in self-disgust. It was only through sheer bravado that got her through yesterday without dying of embarrassment. And, Maya surmised, Manang Fe had also helped neutralise the volatile situation as she kept a light conversation going along. Richard brought her home to her flat very late and tried to talk to her again en route. Maya obstinately kept her mouth shut and would have gone into her flat without hardly talking to him but Richard had other ideas.
“Fine, don’t talk. There’s a better way to communicate anyway,” he had declared bitingly as he pulled her back into his arms before he lowered his head to kiss her senseless for a very long time. He had torridly kissed her in a way that was so arousing that they were both breathless when their lips finally parted. Mercifully, he had let her go last night.
Maya wiped the sweat at her brow as she went back up to her condo unit. The front door was slightly ajar and light was streaming through the gap. And she could hear Emman giggling.
Who could be visiting him at barely 7 am? She silently questioned.
“Kahit nuon pa madaldal na talaga yang kaibigan mo. Parang radio,” informed the familiar voice of the man who had turned Maya’s world topsy-turvy.
“Ay trulalu ka diyan. Never-ending talaga and kwento ni Mayabels, basta nasa mood!” Emman giggled again.
As the old adage goes, eavesdroppers never hear anything good about themselves. It would seem that the two were having a laugh at her expense. She paused by the door, curious as to what else they were talking about.
“So, tell me Emman. Who else comes over? ” Richard asked casually, too casually for Maya’s liking.
“Marami, Kuya Richard,” replied her gay friend “yung mga FA’s na ka-close namin ni Maya, nagpupunta dito. Family ko. Family ni Maya. Si Kuya Ryan madalas na nagda-drop-by para i-check si bunso.”
“How about male friends? Do they stay here as well?”
“Naku, pareho kaming dalagang Filipina ni Mayabels, Kuya Richard. Bawal ang mga boylet na mag-stay dito! Otherwise, majo-jombag ako ni Kuya Ryan.” giggled Emman again.
“So, walang dumadalaw kay Maya dito sa condo? No boyfriend, no suitors?” Richard probed again.
“Meron dating dumadalaw para manligaw pero binabasted kaagad ni Mayabels sa first appearance pa lang! Meron ding naging persistent pero nag-disappear din sa ending. Kahit nga si Mike hindi na rin nag-o-overseas call.”
“Yung suitor ni Maya na Fil-Am. Ang cute nun! Kamukha at kasing macho ni Channing Tatum! Professional baseball player sa LA. Nag-alok yun ng kasal kay Maya,” Emman giddily informed Richard.
Was it Maya’s imagination or did Richard’s voice rose an octave higher with the one-word questioning statement?
“Sabi ni Mayabels, kapapanuod lang niya ng ‘The Vow’ at na-in-love siya sa character ni Channing Tatum sa movie kaya siya nakipag-date kay Mike. Pero hindi raw niya mahal, eh! Ang tagal ding tawag ng tawag nung pobre bago nagsawa.”
“How about James?”
“James? You mean Captain James Ventura?”
“Hindi ba nadalaw dito?”
“Ang alam ko naihatid na nun minsan si Maya bago siya umalis papuntang States. Matagal siya dun. Pero Manila-based na yata siya ulit. So, baka ituloy na niya yung naudlot niyang panliligaw kay Mayabels.” informed Emman.
Why is he asking about James?
Deciding to break up the conversation, Maya opened the door to show herself to the two. Richard was ensconced on the long sofa while Emman, who was already garbed in his FA uniform, was seated on one of the dining chairs facing their visitor.
“Good morning,” Richard got up and greeted her with a deep lingering kiss.
Startled at first, Maya was uncertain how to react to Richard’s PDA before she became self-conscious about her sweaty state and quickly moved her head away from him, effectively cutting short the kiss that would have gone on longer. From her peripheral vision, Maya saw her friend’s eyes bulge and jaw drop in surprise.
“Thank you,” mumbled Maya as Richard handed her a medium-sized mochaccino in a corrugated paper cup and a huge bunch of deep red roses that were just starting to bloom. She eyed that Emman and Richard had a cup each before asking “Anong ginagawa mo dito ng ganito kaaga?”
“I am still on leave, remember? So, I thought we could spend the day together,” he smiled down at her.
Maya needed to feel the strong negative emotion so that she can deny him but the fiery fury was gone. Overnight, her rational mind had been slowly acknowledging that Richard’s simple explanation had the ring of truth in it. It would be unseemly for Richard to indulge in another casual affair when he had requested Manang Fe to prepare for their lunchtime arrival. Even a notorious womaniser like him will not be able to pull off dating two women at ‘exactly’ the same time. It was just not physically possible. Besides, it was Catherine who had her arms around his neck while Richard was holding Catherine by her forearms as if he was keeping a distance between the two of them.
In comparison, Richard always held her by the waist or hips or even by the base of her spine to get closer to her. All these rationale thinking were possible because Maya’s analytical brain was finally properly working. It was severely malfunctioning yesterday due to jealousy.
There, she admitted it! She was jealous! Insanely so!
“Balak ko sana umuwi na ulit ng San Nicholas kung makakakuha ako ng seat.” Maya evaded his question as she noted his casual black slacks and baby pink long-sleeved polo shirt. A man who was confident with his sexuality would have no qualms wearing that long-considered feminine colour, she reckoned.
And there was definitely nothing feminine about Richard.
As an alpha male, he has been attracting females for many years and has acquired sexual expertise in the process. Since he has decided that he wanted her, Maya is presently at the receiving end of all that expertise. With that evidence-based fact, Maya’s reverie started wandering to their latest physical encounter which made her go breathless again.
Kalma lang, Maya! Wala pang ginagawa si Singkit!
“Let me deal with transport. We can go home to San Nicholas later.” Richard smiled lopsidedly down at her, his dimples showing.
Shaking herself out of the hypnotic trance, Maya quickly nodded and mumbled that she needed to shower and change before disappearing into her bedroom with the huge rose bunch. She re-emerged wearing a sleeveless avocado green sundress with wheat-print at the hem and waist-sashed that was beribboned at the back. Due to its very low front, Maya had to wear a beige singlet for modesty.
Richard was alone in the living area when she came out barefoot, carrying her dark beige wedged sandals. “Asan na si Emman?”
“Umalis na nung dumating yung shuttle service ng TA.”
Maya was distractedly trying to recollect where she left her purse last night that she made the mistake of passing near the three-seater sofa where Richard was patiently seated yet alertly waiting…
…like a tiger lying in wait to pounce on his prey!
“Ayyyy!” Maya felt herself firmly being tugged by her forearm that she lost her balance to end up on Richard’s lap. Maya dropped her sandals, one ending up beside Richard on the sofa while the other fell on the floor by his leather loafer-shod feet.
“Got you where I want you,” Richard whispered against her neck which brought on goosepimples all over her upper arms.
“Richard—!” Maya protested, as she tried to push at his shoulders to get up but Richard’s arms were firmly around her.
“I just want a kiss, Maya.”
“Nakahalik ka na kanina, diba?” she questioned with a raised left brow.
“That’s why I want ‘you’ to kiss me. And we won’t be going anywhere until you do.”
“Ano ‘to blackmail?” challenged Maya with her left brow a bit higher.
“Call it whatever you like. I just want a proper kiss.” Richard demanded with his lips puckering up in anticipation.
Maya couldn’t help but giggle at his pointed pecker. She tried getting up but Richard’s arms merely tightened around her. She pushed at his chest but she just found herself in much closer proximity to him that their breaths were intermingling.
“Okey, fine!” Maya ungraciously relented and gave him a quick lip smack.
“You call that a kiss?” Richard’s chinito eyes mocked her “I know you can do better than that, Maya.”
Maya pulled an exasperated sigh. She really did not want to kiss him for he may start getting amorous again. If she doesn’t acquiesce, she would be trapped longer and he may decide to make love to her anyway! Either way can lead to the same conclusion. And Maya knows she could not resist him. As it is, she feels so bothered and restless. Part of her wantonly wanted him to pick up where they left off yesterday and really make love to her!
Would that be so bad? A tiny voice asked. Maya wants him. Even before she fully realised it, she already wanted him when she was much younger. In the intervening years, she never really wanted anyone else. And in so many ways, Richard has shown that he definitely wants her very much.
“Maya, I am waiting,” he prompted.
And he has been ‘waiting’ for a very long time for her, Maya acknowledged. It was just a kiss anyway.
With her hands anchored at his shoulders, Maya closed the gap between them and tried to recall how Richard kissed her. So, she started slowly brushing her lips against his lower lip until she was nibbling it. Involuntarily, Maya closed her eyes as she felt pleasurable sensations emanate from where their skin touched. When she transferred her attention to his upper lip, Maya gently sucked at it and let her tongue hesitantly venture out to lick him. Maya inwardly smiled as he tasted of mint and coffee. And she liked his taste. She became bolder as she softly sucked at his lower lips again before her tongue explored further. Then she heard Richard groan, as if in pain. Maya’s eyes flew open as she broke off from the kiss.
“What? Mali ba ginagawa ko?” She asked worriedly as Richard’s eyes were closed. “Richard?”
Then his lids opened a fraction. “Who the hell taught you how to kiss like that?”
Maya was so surprised with the question that she sat on his lap dumbstruck with her full lips slightly parted before she answered, “It was actually—”
“Nevermind! I don’t want to know!” he cut in harshly as his hand snaked out to hold her by the nape to kiss her deeply, thoroughly until all sense of time and space fled from her mind. The kiss went on and on until they were both breathless.
“I must be a masochist” Richard mumbled as he buried his head against her hair. His arms were around her, his hands gripping her waist as he struggled for control.
Perversely, Maya wished he would lose control. And then what? And then he can…so that they can…then perhaps she will not be feeling so bothered and restless!
When Richard let her go, she slid off his lap to sit beside him. A chunky item was underneath her thigh which turned out to be her sandal. She absently slipped it on before retrieving the matching pair from the floor. For a few minutes, Richard sat quietly then sighed deeply before he slowly stood up. Then, he extended his arm towards her and laid out his hand.
Maya smiled up at him and trustingly placed her hand in his. Maya did not even ask where he was taking her. She just wants to be with him. It did not matter one iota where.
Richard was driving when his phone, which was in the middle tray by the BMW’s highly polished wooden dashboard, started ringing. It activated the car’s Bluetooth so Maya read the caller’s identity. The small screen was flashing ‘Mama’.
“Mother mo yata ang tumatawag. Bakit hindi mo sagutin?”
“Kagabi pa nga yan tawag ng tawag.” Richard was shaking his head.
“Eh, di lalo mong dapat sagutin. Baka emergency,” Maya chided him.
“If that was the case, she would have told Manang Fe,” disagreed Richard.
The phone started ringing again which prompted Maya to look pointedly at him.
“Fine,” he ungraciously complied before pressing the button to receive the call “Hello, Ma.”
“Ricky, have you been hiding from me?” complained a female voice that filled the confines of the BMW.
“Now, why would I do that, Ma?” Richard responded with another question as he winked conspiratorially at Maya who shook her head in exasperation.
“Hindi mo sinasagot ang calls ko dahil alam mong alam ko na ang tungkol sa girlfriend mo!” the voice said triumphantly.
“I told you it won’t be an emergency,” Richard whispered as he looked at her sideways.
“What was that, son?” the voice prompted.
“Nothing, Ma. I was talking to Maya” Richard informed his mother.
“Oh, she’s there with you? Hello, Maya! I am Ricky’s mother.”
“Hello po,” Maya answered uncertainly “kamusta po kayo?”
“I’m good, thanks. Ikaw, iha? How are you and your family?”
“Okey naman po.”
“I have met your Kuya Ryan several times when we were still living there. And lately, when we stay for a few months in Manila, Roberto would always seek his legal advice on prospective property purchases. So, we know Ryan very well. He had also invited us to visit San Nicholas the last time we saw him but we had prior commitments here in Guangdong.”
“Ganun po ba,” Maya looked at Richard who was concentrating on his driving.
“We would have met sooner otherwise. But I would love to meet you when I come home next week—”
“Next week?” Richard interrupted, surprise in his voice.
“I want to meet your girlfriend,” Richard’s mother retorted “I have been waiting for years for you to bring her home. Papalampasin ko pa ba naman ito?”
Maya wanted to interrupt the conversation to tell the truth but decided against it. She does not have the energy to keep raising the ‘official relationship’ topic. Despite their undefined relationship state, Maya cannot honestly claim that there was nothing between Richard and herself. She just might choke with the lie.
“Is Papa coming home, too?” queried Richard.
“Possible. I haven’t asked him yet if he will join me,” replied his mother “Hmmmnnn, I think I better ask him what his plans are. Baka magtampo kung basta-basta akong uuwi. If he’s calendar is clear, he can come home with me.”
“It would be good if both of you will be able to come home,” encouraged Richard.
“And why is that?” his mother prompted him “No, don’t tell me! Have you asked Maya to marry you? Mamamanhikan na ba kami?”
“Well—” Richard looked sideways at Maya uncertainly.
“My gosh, you don’t waste any time! Manang-mana ka sa Papa mo!” then the voice was laughing heartily.
“Excuse me po,” Maya finally chimed in the conversation between mother and son “Masyado pa pong maaga para pag-usapan ang kasal. Hindi ko nga po alam kung kaya ng anak ninyo ang mag-commit sa isang babae lang, eh.”
“But Fe said—?”
“Ma, under negotiations pa ang lahat,” Richard humourously interjected “I am still trying to convince her that I can be faithful to her. She got mad and broke up with me.”
“Whaaat? Break-up na kaagad? Kagabi ko lang nalaman ang tungkol kay Maya. Tapos wala na kayo?” uttered his mother in a rather shrill voice.
“Sobrang babaero po kasi nitong anak ninyo. Kahapon lang nahuli kong may kayakap na sexy,” Maya quickly divulged.
“Kwento nga ni Fe nag-aaway kayo kahapon,” Richard’s mother stated less agitatedly after a deep sigh. Then she peremptorily instructed “Ricky, explain yourself.”
“Ma, I was not doing anything. As vain as I may sound, that woman was the one coming on to me,” Richard complained.
“Vain nga talaga,” Maya agreed in an undertone which earned a chiding look from Richard.
“Yun naman pala, eh” Richard’s mother readily accepted his explanation “Maya, I know my son. He can be the most impossible, demanding, impatient—”
“Ma, you’re not helping—” Richard grumbled.
“—temperamental, domineering, vain…” Maya added, ignoring Richard.
“Yes, he can be those, too” his mother laughingly agreed, likewise disregarding Richard’s protest “But, Maya, I know my son. For all his faults, he is not a liar.”
“Ano po yun?
“Just satisfy my curiosity, iha. Has Richard told you that he loves you?”
“Po?” Maya was taken aback with the very straightforward question.
“I have, Ma,” Richard directly answered his mother as he reached for Maya’s left hand to kiss her knuckles “several times, in fact.”
“Maya, Richard is so much like his father. His father was also a womaniser when he was a bachelor, but he settled down when we got engaged and then eventually married. He has always been a devoted husband and father,” the elder lady informed Maya “Our marriage had its ups and downs but fidelity was never an issue. And I believe, my son will be the same.”
“Call me, Tita Esme or Mama if you like,” his mother urged with a little chuckle. “Take it from me, Maya. Richard is behaving very odd with you…”
“Thanks, Ma! Now, she will think I am a weirdo” Richard protested laughingly.
“Oh, Ricky,” his mother scolded him “I am just trying to help you patch things up with Maya!”
“It’s okey,” Richard laughed harder “I can take it from here. Sige na, Ma. I will call you later.”
“Ooops, istorbo ba ‘ko? Sorry, son.” Richard’s mother apologised with a little chuckle “Nice talking to you, Maya. We’ll catch up again next week when I arrive, okey?”
“Sige po.” Maya murmured.
When his mother rang off, Richard smiled sheepishly at Maya. “Pasensiya ka na kay Mama.”
“Don’t apologise for her. I thought she was so sweet in defending you,” Maya smilingly countered.
“Did she win my case?” Richard looked sideways at her, his expression half-serious.
Maya compressed her lips to hide her grin which was probably betrayed by her doe-shaped eyes. “On probation ka na lang. Medyo bigatin yung abogado mo, eh!”
“I love you, Maya.” Richard laughed and kissed her knuckles again. Then, he looked expectantly at her for a moment before returning his attention to the road.
Much as she wanted to express herself, Maya could not say the words yet. She cannot say them aloud for they signify total commitment for her.
And total surrender. Does she have the courage to surrender everything?
The disturbing thoughts were riotously running in her head as Richard brought her to a pancake parlour. They had a leisurely breakfast wherein she watched him devour a stack of four buttermilk pancakes with mixed berries, whipped cream and syrup. Men’s appetites were really different, she mused while having a couple of buttered blueberry pancakes herself. Richard murmured that it was a good thing they will be able to walk-off the calorie-laden food at their destination.
When they arrived at Tiendesita’s, they walked through the pavilions hand in hand. The place was teeming with Filipiniana interior decorative items and household furnishings. They spent the morning browsing through the stalls discussing ideas for the villa, stopping to have lunch onsite only to go back window shopping. It was then that Maya spied a very large handcarved oval mirror with rose design hanging against a myriad of other bric-a- brac. Richard had actually gone a few metres ahead when he realised that Maya was falling behind and backtracked where she was standing scrutinising the mirror.
“Do you like this?” Richard asked.
“This would look great for your front foyer against that bare wall,” Maya nodded as she noticed that the mirror has a pair of narrow tower shelves that was designed to go on either side of the mirror. All three had handcarved rose detailing.
“I think you’re right,” he agreed and called the attention of the salesperson. When Maya saw that Richard was just going to purchase the item without flicking an eyelid, she hastily intervened and haggled for a much lower purchase price.
When the salesperson left, Maya was shaking her head at him in exasperation. “Hindi ka ba marunong tumawad?”
“Apparently not, hmmmnn? It’s a good thing then that you are with me,” he smiled down at her and Maya felt herself going warm under his admiring regard.
“It would be nice to see how it looks on your wall,” she mumbled as she watched the mirror being wrapped in corrugated cardboard.
“Then, let’s take it with us and hang it in the villa,” he suggested.
“Ngayon na? As in agad-agad?” Maya asked and Richard grinned.
Maya noted that she needed to be careful what she say around Richard, for they were San Nicholas bound within the hour in his chopper with the huge heavy mirror sans the matching narrow tower shelves. When they arrived, Richard opened up the house with his own set of keys. He carried the huge mirror himself and positioned it by the front foyer. Richard had disappeared to come back with power tools to drill a hole for a large metal C-hook. When hanged, the dark stained, hand carved wooden frame of the oval mirror beautifully contrasted against the off-white wall of the foyer.
Maya was directly in front of the mirror admiring its detailing when Richard came behind her to put his arms around her waist. Looking at their reflection in the mirror, Maya could almost imagine their image as a still portrait. Maya wondered if he thought the same.
“The kitchen’s finished,” he murmured against her ear before giving her a peck on the cheek.
Richard nodded and took her left hand in his right and led her through the house to go into the kitchen where a new mahogany benchtop was gleaming as the last rays of the setting sun touched its surface. All the cabinet doors and drawer facade were all installed and were accented with the intertwined rose design. There was also a distressed-look, very thick, rectangular slab work table that had shelves and wicker drawers underneath. But what amazed Maya was the new huge indoor space attached around the kitchen.
“Do you like it?” he asked as Maya eyed the row of skylight windows of the latest structural addition to the villa.
“It’s huge. Is this going to be the family room?” Maya walked to the middle of the space.
Richard noddingly followed and looked directly into her eyes. “I plan to put a huge screen TV and a billiard table in here so we can entertain both our family and friends here less formally.”
“We?” Maya blinked.
“Of course,” Richard replied matter-of-factly.
Maya was still as she remembered a question that fleetingly entered her head when he started courting her.
“Richard,” Maya asked as she looked directly at his face, “why did you buy this villa?” .
Richard’s face turned serious, one brow lifted in query. “Haven’t you learnt the reason by now?”
“I can hazard a guess, but I would like to hear it from you,” Maya pulled a deep breath.
“I know how you love this villa,” Richard gathered her hands in his as he softly continued “so I bought this for you, for us, hoping we can start our life together here.”
Richard’s simple yet very honest answer took her breath away. He risked a small fortune when he bought the estate and renovated the villa. He also spent a long time restoring the statue for the simple reason that it looked like her. He also delegated a lot of his work, and essentially risked his corporation by taking a lot of leave so he can be here in San Nicholas to be with her.
Maya asked herself if she can take similar risks for Richard. If she was not willing, then she and Richard will have to part ways. Maya asked herself if she can handle that. Deep in her heart, she knows she cannot walk away from Richard.
With a silent fervent prayer, she finally took the leap of faith.
“I would like that very much, Richard” Maya smiled shyly up at him.
“Maya?” Richard’s both brows now lifted in surprise while his hands released hers to go on either side of her head. He angled her head so he can see the fire glimmering through her brown eyes.
“I’m in love with you, too” Maya finally confessed, “Matagal na.”
“Are you sure?” Richard looked at her searchingly, in a tone that almost refused to believe what she was finally verbally expressing.
“Sure na sure” Maya confirmed with all the love shining in her eyes for the man in front of her.
The next minute, Maya felt herself being enveloped in a very tight bear hug that constricted her breathing.
“Tell me again,” Richard commanded as his embrace loosened, and his face went near hers with his warm breath fanning her lips.
With her heart and mind, Maya loves Richard.
Maya smiled and indulged him, “I love you, Richard.”
“Finally!” he groaned, as he lowered his head to kiss her ardently. Maya’s arms went around his neck and uninhibitedly returned his kiss until the nature of the kiss became so passionately hot. Carried away with the sensual tide, Maya was leaning against his frame for she had lost the strength in her legs. Richard’s hands had lowered to her hips as his lips nuzzled the side of her neck. Then one of his hands lowered further to cup her derriere to pull her much closer to him so that she could feel his hardened arousal.
“Ohhhhh, Richard” she moaned in pleasure, revelling on the effect that she was having on him as she rubbed herself against him. She kissed his neck but was frustrated when her caresses was hindered by his shirt. She wanted to see and feel more of his bare skin which compelled her hands to go to his shirt front. She was able to undo his top two buttons before her progress was halted by Richard’s grip.
“I think we better stop this now,” he said shakily, “my self-control is at breaking point at the moment.”
He stepped away from her as he combed his fingers through his hair.
“Kukunin ko lang yung susi ng sasakyan” he said with a tense voice “ihahatid na kita sa inyo.”
Maya was momentarily confused and speechless as she watched his retreating back. Maya wanted to scream at him in frustration! After arousing her, he was just going to walk away!
I don’t think so, Richard Lim! Maya fumed as she followed him to the master’s suite to…to…
To do exactly what Maya? The self-check question halted her in her tracks.
To tell him that I want him too! And if he insists on restraining himself, I will just have to change his mind, Maya thought.
And pray tell, how will you achieve that?
Ahhh…ehhh…ano…bahala na si Batman!
When Maya peered into the bedroom, she saw that Richard was in the bathroom with his head bent over the vanity sink, his fingers in his hair. When she called his name, he straightened sans specs and joined her in the sitting room. With a pained smile, Richard took her hand to lead her out of the master’s suite.
“Richard, wait!” she said before she lost her courage “I need to tell you something…”
“We can talk on the way to your place.”
“That’s just it,” Maya dug in her heels that obliged Richard to stop in his tracks to look down at her with raised brows “I don’t want to go home…”
“…I want to stay here with you, Richard.” Maya finished in a hushed tone.
Richard’s lips parted and tried to say something but was unable to frame the words at first. He took a few calming deep breaths before asking “Alam mo ba ang sinasabi mo?”
Maya nodded, her cheeks staining pink. “Bakit? Nagbago na ba ang isip mo? Ayaw mo na ba sakin?”