This is a continuation to The Rightful Owner – part 6
Emman informed Maya that he received a call from James earlier that day asking her whereabouts. As such, Maya wasn’t surprised when he contacted her again after lunch. She was on her way out of the studio after a last minute cancellation of her schedule that afternoon.
“Hi, are you still in the studio?” James’s message to her.
“Yes, but on my way out.” Was her short response. Then, her phone rang.
“Hi Maya, if you are already free. Can I take you out for a snack?”
“James! Actually, paalis na ako sa studio eh. Where are you?” She was beginning to feel uncomfortable with James’s sending her messages and invitations.
“I’m in the parking lot. I’m trying my luck if I could see you today.” James declared to Maya’s surprise. She didn’t expect him to be there. Since he was at the parking lot where she was headed to, there will be no escape in seeing him. And so, she had no choice but to entertain him.
“Okay, I see you in a few minutes. I’m on my way there.” Although James has not mentioned anything to her, Maya could already guess his interest in her considering the flowers he sends daily for the past week and the invitations he was extending to her. As she doesn’t want to be too presumptuous of his intention, she thought she might wait for his declaration. If that time happens, she intends to tell him right away that there is no future with her.
A few minutes later, James and Maya met at the parking lot. After a short discussion on the place where they can go, they decided to have a snack at a restaurant along Tomas Morato which is quite near ABN. They drove to the place on separate cars because Maya didn’t want to ride with James feigning that she still had an appointment later time of the day.
At the restaurant, James was thoughtful in his attention to Maya. He asked how her day was and the projects she was working on. He asked what she wanted to eat and ordered for the two of them. In Maya thoughts, James could be a good friend because of his pleasant personality but beyond that, she doesn’t feel anything for him. He is bland compared to Richard. There, Richard was in her mind again, she realized.
“Maya, thanks for accepting my invite. I know it is quite a short notice.” James was looking at Maya tenderly.
“Oo nga eh. Buti na lang, na free-up yung afternoon ko. Anyway, sabi ni Emman tuloy ang formal signing next week?” Maya checked with James.
“Yes, we’ll just do it at the T.A. conference room. It will be on Wednesday. Anyway, it is more for photo ops. Then, we’ll have a celebration with the management team.”
Maya smiled which encouraged him to feel comfortable with her. He noticed that she was quite formal with him that afternoon so he wondered if he upset her with his unannounced appearance in their studio. So, he was quite relieved to see her smiling.
James pushed his luck. “Maya, about my dinner invites, sorry if I’m being makulit.”
Maya just nodded. “Unfortunately James, my evening schedules are really full. Other than the movie I am finishing up, I’ve also started taping for a daily TV series.”
“So, you don’t have time for a personal life? Oh come on, isn’t unfair? Di ba dapat may time ka rin para sa sarili mo?” He asked personal questions one after the other that Maya’s brows raised in amusement.
“James, ano ka ba. Syempre I have time but they are planned.”
He saw a opening there so he pursued his intent. “Good, then, I could be in that plan too?” He looked hopeful and Maya thought she may have to clarify his intention to her at that moment.
“Ahhh, if you don’t mind James.” She started. “Ahh, why do you want to be in my plan? Nanliligaw ka ba sa akin?” She asked directly as there should be room for doubt.
“Ha,ha,ha. Hindi ba halata? I thought the dinners and flowers would have given away some hints.” It was James’s turn to be amused. Then, he turned serious. “Actually Maya, I’m very interested in you. I want to get to know you better. You are special and I hope that you would give me the chance to get to you know better.” He was gazing at her and she knew he meant the words he uttered.
“Ehh, James, thank you. You’re a nice person. Definitely, we can get to know each other. Di ba that’s how friends should be?” She hoped he got the message.
“Friends? Yes, I’d like us to be friends and hopefully, we can be more than friends in the future.” James placed his hand on top of Maya’s hand. Maya just looked at it and then gently took her hand away.
“I have to be straightforward with you, ha. I can only be friends with you and nothing beyond that. Sorry.” There was firm resolve in her eyes that was undeniable.
James felt a pinch in his heart. He didn’t expect an outright turndown that afternoon. “Is it because there is someone? I’m sure you have other suitors but I’ve not confirmed whether there is one that you seeing exclusively.”
Maya gave a half-smile. “I’m not seeing anyone exclusively.” She heaved a sigh of resignation before saying, “Pero, I have to admit. There is someone here.” She pointed to her heart.
“So, you mean hindi mo pa boyfriend. So, is he someone from the same industry?” He must be a masochist to ask her questions that were hurting him as well but he was interested.
She blushed when Richard crossed her mind again. “Yes, he’s not a boyfriend and I don’t know whether he will be. He is non-showbiz.” Maya sipped the carrot juice she ordered. She had already shared with James her innermost feeling without meaning to. But at that moment, she felt it was necessary so that he would stop pursuing her.
“So James, I’m sorry and hope you’re not offended. I can only be friends with you.” She repeated her stance with him.
“Ouchh!” James had a smile at the same time a hurt look on his face. “What can I do? Anyway, na-appreciate ko na rin na you told me right away. Medyo masakit ha.” He looked defeated.
By the end of the afternoon, James and Maya had clarity on where they stood with each other. James understood that Maya wasn’t interested in him and that she has already someone in her heart. However, they would remain as friends.
Saturday afternoon, there was a stack of clothes on top of Maya’s bed. After trying on several dresses, she ended up choosing a simple little black dress. As she examined herself in the mirror, she felt confident on how the dress complimented her slim figure. She forgot to consider that she was going for casual dining that night and she also have a meeting with another ad sponsor before her dinner with Richard.
The meeting with her new ad sponsor went well and finished within the schedule. As usual, Emman was with her as her manager. While on the elevator on their way out of the building, Emman curiously asked Maya.
“Ehh, girl paano ka uuwi mamaya? Don’t tell me papasundo ka sa akin? Remember, Saturday ngayon, It’s my day with you know who.” Emman fetched Maya from Antipolo early afternoon for their meeting with their new sponsor and he knew she had a dinner appointment.
“Ako ng bahala umuwi, Emman. Don’t worry.” They excited the elevator together and proceeded to the main entrance of the building. While standing in front of the building, a black BMW stopped a few feet away from them. Richard got out of the car and smiled at Maya. He looked dashing in jeans and black coat over a gray round neck shirt. Maya’s heart leaped a bit as their eyes met and locked. Emman looked Richard and then to Maya and noticed how the two appreciated each other’s looks.
“Hmmm, kaya pala dressed to impress ka girl. Akala ko pa naman, para dito sa noodles endorsement mo.” Emman giggled as he whispered to Maya.
Maya pulled Emman’s shirt at the back as she warned him in low voice. “Tumigil ka dyan.”
“Richard, this is Emman, my manager and best friend.” Maya introduced the two as soon as Richard stood in front of them.
“Hi Emman, I’m Richard Lim.” They shook hands.
“Nice to meet you Sir. Ang na meet ko pa lang kasi yung VP marketing n’yo. So, sir, requirement ba sa company n’yo na gwapo lang ang pwedeng maging officers?” Emman joked that Richard took good naturedly. He chuckled and as he did, his bedimpled cheek and tiny eyes were emphasized.
“Palabiro palang friend mo Maya.” He patted Emman’s shoulder and turned to Maya. “So, let’s go?”
Maya nodded and said goodbye to her friend. Richard’s hand was on her elbow as he assisted her in going to his car. A few minutes later, they were in Ortigas Avenue on their way to their destination.
“Hmmm, Maya, have you eaten at that place before?” Richard took off his eyes from the road to glance at her. She looked lovely as usual. He noticed her creamy thighs that were exposed by her short dress. He recalled her in swim suit and something within him stirred. He turned on his car’s stereo to distract himself.
Maya responded to his query. “Not yet, sabi nila okay duon for Filipino cuisine.”
“But I heard the place can be crowded and parking can be difficult. So, I was thinking whether you are open to other options.” Seeing her so pretty that night, Richard had a strange need to show her off in public.
“Ahh, ganuon? Sige, we have can have dinner somewhere else. Ikaw na kaya ang mag-decide.” She agreed on his suggestion.
“I can only think of Shangri-la east wing at the moment. May new Filipino restaurant doon.” He further suggested.
“Okay pero hindi kaya maraming tao doon ngayon?” She hesitated.
“Maya, kung gusto mong walang tao, dapat siguro sa bahay na lang tayo mag dinner.” Maya was taken aback by his comment. Actually, she felt giddy by his comment. “Did he mean his house?” She gave him a quizzical look.
“What I meant was, you are a public figure so everywhere you go, people will recognize you. So, what I can only suggest would be places where there are less people except nga sa bahay, duon sigurado mga kasambahay lang makakakita sa’yo.”
He glanced at her before he continued. “Anyway, you look so beautiful tonight so I might as well show you off.” The last comment came out spontaneously from Richard.
Maya’s heart jumped again. In her thoughts, she must learn to train her heart not to react whenever she sees him or compliments her otherwise she might die of heart failure soon.
After several minutes of driving and waiting for a parking space at Shangri-la, Richard and Maya were on their way to the restaurant. Although the mall had very few people walking around, they still caught the attention of those people who saw them. They looked good together. Richard walked on the left side of Maya with his right hand settled on her lower back. She didn’t mind it; in fact, she was quite excited by it. They looked like a couple on a date.
Over dinner, they laughed together on the stories shared by Maya. They were were mostly about showbiz which he found entertaining. It was so easy to converse with her because she can be candid and spontaneous. On Maya’s part, she getting more charmed by her cute chinito date who was smiling a lot during that evening. As in their previous dinner, they spent the entire evening talking until the restaurant closed.
It seemed like there was a silent agreement that Richard was going to send her home that night. He just asked where she was staying and reminded her to give him directions once they reached Antipolo area.
It was almost midnight when they arrived at her place. He got out of his car and opened her door to allow her to step out of the car.
“Richard, would you like to have coffee?” She offered as they stood outside the gate.
“Ahh, yes, thank you.” He accepted the offer.
The two story house of Maya is situated in a middle of a medium sized property where one has to pass through a small garden before reaching the front entrance of the house. It rained that night and so the stepping stones leading to the house were slippery.
Richard and Maya mid-way to the house when her stiletto slipped that almost had her tumbling forward. Richard’s quick response was to grab her by her waist to keep her from falling. When Maya straightened herself and turned to face him, she found herself standing very close to Richard. Their bodies and their heads were only few inches apart.
“Are you okay?” Richard asked. She felt his breath on her face.
“Yes, I am fine.” Losing her poise in front of him was more embarrassing.
She looked at him and met his gaze. The embarrassment she felt was immediately replaced with nervousness being so close to him. She couldn’t deny to herself anymore that she was very much attracted to him. She hoped that he would kiss just like in Bali.
Richard was getting lost in her limpid pools that seemed to be waiting for his next move. They continued gazing at each other and as if there was magnet between them, their faces moved forward as they closed the distance between them. The next thing Richard knew, he was kissing Maya and she was kissing him back. He gathered her in his arms as he deepened the kiss. Maya’s hand went around his neck in response.
Then, a light coming from the main door disrupted them.
“Maya!” Nanay Teresita exclaimed as she caught her youngest daughter kissing a man.
The two automatically separated with Maya blushing. Richard steadied her when he felt her getting nervous. Nanay Teresita, recovering from her shock, realized she created the tension and so she tried to lighten the mood.
“O bakit hindi pa kayo pumasok dito sa bahay.” She enjoined them to enter the house as if she saw nothing.
“Good evening po, Mrs. Dela Rosa. Ako po si Richard Lim.” As the stood at the foyer leading to the living room, Richard formally greeted her mother as a fidgety Maya remained on his side.
“Good evening din. Dito tayo sa sala.” With the bright lights in the house, Nanay Teresita appreciated the good looks of Richard. She gave a meaningful glance at her daughter.
“Hindi ko alam na may boyfriend na pala itong anak ko. Maya, bakit hindi mo naman na-introduce si Richard sa amin dati.”
“Ahh, ‘Nay, kase…” She didn’t know how to correct her mother but it was Richard who handled the situation.
“Pasensya na po, bago lang po kasi…” Nanay Teresita excitedly cut-off him off.
“Ay, hindi bale. Ang importante nagkakilala na tayo. O sige, maiwan ko na kayo. Richard next time na lang tayo magkwentuhan kasi medyo gabi na.” She gave them a hint that it was late in the evening and therefore time for goodbyes. Nanay Teresita bade them goodnight leaving Richard and Maya standing at the the living room.
“Maya, it’s late. I better leave.” Richard facial expression was serious. A few moments ago, he was just reminded of his brother and the promise to James he broke few minutes ago.
“Ha? O sige.” Maya accompanied Richard going out of the house. When they were outside before opening the gate, she told him what was on her mind. “About my mom, I’ll take care of explaining to her.” Maya couldn’t blame her mother for jumping to conclusion after what she saw outside the house.
Richard raised a brow as a smile emerged from his lips. “So, how would you explain to her what she saw? Didn’t you see how excited she was learning that you have a boyfriend?”
Maya just pursed her lips. Her mother had always been curious about her not having a boyfriend. It was probably the reason why she was happy to see her with Richard earlier.
Richard continued. “Maybe, you can let it be for a while. We can always break-up later.” He teased her as he exited the gate. Moments later, Richard’s car can be heard leaving their street.
Maya walked back to the house with in a very happy mood. She thoroughly enjoyed the night up to the point where they kissed. While their boyfriend-girlfriend relationship was only an assumption on her mother’s part, she was very ecstatic with the thought. She wished it was real.