This is a continuation to The Art of Letting Go – part 36.
It was only 4am but Richard stirred in his sleep as a throbbing pain in his head accompanied by discomfort in his stomach caused by too much acid, invaded his body, much more his sleep.
As he was to move out of bed, he suddenly felt a weight on his left arm. As he opened his eyes, he was surprised to see Maya sleeping peacefully, cuddled on his side. He tried to recall how they end up in her bed together but his recollection failed him. He then simply shrugged it off and savoured the moment and the warmth that Maya brings him.
Richard watched her sleep and slowly, a smile crept upon his face. Despite his discomfort due to hang over, everything felt perfectly right for him. To have Maya sleep beside him, cuddled on his side, watch her in deep slumber, and wake up to her warmth and presence is a dream come true. A dream, by which in a few weeks’ time is finally coming true.
Carefully, he caressed her hair as he continued to watch her sleep. Eventually, a sudden urge to kiss her invaded his senses. As he was finally letting himself be succumbed by the idea, a realization hit him, he still smell of lambanog.
With this realization, he forced himself to stealthily move out of bed, careful enough not to wake the sleeping beauty beside him. He then walked towards Maya’s closet, grabbed her towel and toiletries and went to the bathroom for a quick shower. Once he’s done, he went back to the bedroom, he saw Maya curled on her right side, undeterred. He then returned the towel and toiletries to their respective places and carefully lied down on bed.
As if sensing his return, Maya changed her position, turned to her left and placed her head on top of Richard’s chest using it as her pillow.
Richard stilled, held his breath, afraid that even his breathing would stir Maya from her sleep and eventually wake up and find herself in such position, get conscious altogether and leave him alone inside the room.
He waited for a couple of seconds and felt Maya’s cheek flex. She must be smiling, he thought. With this thought, he let out the breath he’s been holding and relaxed. He smiled at the knowledge that Maya’s enjoying her sleep and cannot help but take pride in it knowing he’s part of the reason for her peaceful and well-enjoyed slumber.
Gently, he resumed stroking her hair, lulling her into a deeper sleeping state. With a sense of complete satisfaction, sleep invaded his body once more.
9am, Maya still has her head on top of Richard’s chest, both still sleeping peacefully. A moment later, Maya unconsciously caressed Richard’s side mistaking it as her pillow which caused for Richard to stir in his sleep and open his eyes.
The sight made him smile once again. Richard tried to stifle a laugh as he can clearly see that Maya is enjoying the whole thing but knows fairly well that she is completely unconscious of her own actions and the body she’s been caressing this whole time.
Moments later, Maya finally opened her eyes. Richard’s scent filled her senses and completely overwhelmed her that it enticed her to dig her nose onto his chest and sniff deeply to her heart’s content.
As she resumed resting her cheek back on Richard’s chest, realization struck her – she’s not resting her head on her pillow worse, it’s not her pillow that she thoroughly sniffed. Slowly, she turned her head and saw Richard smiling amusingly at her. Maya groaned inwardly in complete embarrassment.
“Good morning,” he greeted enthusiastically.
“Good morning,” she mumbled, managing to smile sheepishly. As she bit her lower lip, Maya tried to carefully get up and get out of bed but Richard stopped her from doing so, draping an arm around her shoulder and pressing her down against his body.
“Where are you going?”
“Ah, tanghali na kasi honey. Kailangan na nating bumangon baka hinahanap na tayo nila nanay.”
“I don’t think so. I’m sure kung hinahanap nila tayo, pupuntahan nila tayo dito sa room,” smiled Richard. He knows fairly well that Maya’s family were considerate enough so as not to disturb them in their sleep and let them have their much needed rest especially after the drunken state he’s been into last night.
“Ok. Pero babangon na ako. Tignan ko nalang din baka may kailangan sila nanay,” she said, trying to make an excuse to get up and out of bed.
“Let’s stay here and rest for a couple of minutes more,” pressed Richard.
“Eh pero hindi na ako inaantok eh.”
“Are you sure?” he asked. “You seemed to be thoroughly enjoying resting on my chest. Ouch!” he exclaimed as Maya slapped him but started laughing at her in an instant.
Maya sat up straight. “Sige! Tumawa tawa ka pa! Nakakainis ka na ha!” said Maya pouting her lips.
Richard followed and sat up beside her, placing an arm on her shoulders. “Eh kasi parang wiling-wili ka sa pagkakahiga mo sa akin kung amuyin mo pa nga ako – Aah! Masakit yun ah!” chuckled Richard as he caught Maya’s hand that pinched him on his side.
“Natutulog ako kaya hindi ko alam ang ginagawa ko! Kala ko unan ko yun,” she explained as she tries so hard to redeem herself but Richard just continued to laugh at her and tease her more. “Nakakainis ka ng talaga honey ha!”
“Aminin mo na kasi that you simply can’t get enough of me,” grinned Richard.
Maya rolled her eyes. “Whatever!” She tried once more to get out of bed but Richard is stubborn enough to not let her leave his side. “Honey, tanghali na at kailangan na nating lumabas. Isa pa, hindi ka pa ba nagugutom? At hindi manlang ba sumasakit ang ulo mo?”
Richard immediately felt some mild throbbing pain on his head upon the mention of it by Maya. He was thoroughly entertained by Maya that he forgot about the pain altogether, also, it seemed to him the shower he took earlier somewhat helped alleviate some discomfort.
“Hindi pa naman ako nagugutom saka di naman na masyadong sumasakit ang ulo ko,” he answered.
Maya gave him a bewildered look. “Hindi na sumasakit? So sumasakit kanina?”
“Uh huh. Nagising nga ako kaninang 4am dahil parang pinapalo ang ulo ko. But then I saw you sleeping beside me and I suddenly realized that I must be smelling awful. Kaya, I decided to get up and take a quick shower. I think it helped kasi mas naging komportable ang pakiramdam ko after,” he said proudly.
“Nag-shower ka kanina? Eh san ka kumuha ng gamit? Pano ka nagpatuyo eh wala ka naming dalang kahit anong gamit mo dito sa amin kahapon?”
Richard smiled sheepishly. “Well, I used your towel and toiletries.”
Maya smiled sarcastically at him in return. “Ayun! At nakigamit pa pala ng gamit ko! At kaya naman pala hindi ka na amoy lambanog ngayon!” she said then shook her head in amusement of what he did.
“Sabi mo nga, wala akong dalang kahit anong gamit, so I thought of borrowing your things. Ayoko namang maamoy mong mabaho ako saka, I think it did me good. Pati nga ikaw hindi nakatiis sa bango ko eh.”
Maya blushed immediately. “Nang-aasar ka na naman ha.”
Richard laughed. “Eh ang cute cute mo kasing tignan kanina eh. Kulang nalang talaga mapasok ang buong katawan ko sa ilong mo dahil sa ginawa mong pagsinghot sa akin kanina.”
Maya slapped him in the arm as she groaned in embarrassment. “Nakakainis kang talaga! Bahala ka na nga jan!” Maya made an attempt to leave the bed once again when Richard locked her in an embrace. “Richard sumosobra ka na ha. Kung aasarin mo lang ako dito, mabuti pang lumabas na ako ng kwarto,” she said but Richard wouldn’t budge at all.
“Ok hindi na kita aasarin. Dito ka muna. Dito muna tayo,” he said as he rested his chin atop Maya’s right shoulder.
“Honey, alam mo namang hindi tayo pwedeng magkulong nalang dito maghapon di ba? Isa pa, kung ikaw hindi pa nagugutom, ako nagugutom na.”
Richard gave her an incredulous look. “Huh? Nagugutom ka na? Parang hindi ko naman nadidinig yung stomach mo? Padinig nga.” Richard moved and tried to press his ear on Maya’s tummy but Maya tries her best to stop him.
“Honey! Ano ka ba! Tigilan mo nga yan! Ano ka ba!” she pleaded as Richard continuously tries to press his ear on her stomach and she, on the other hand, continuously tries to stop and push him away.
“Eh gusto ko lang malaman kung nagsasabi ka nga ng totoo. Sige na! Titignan ko lang kung talagang nagagalit na ang mga alaga mong bulate!” chuckled Richard.
“Hoy honey ha! Mahiya ka nga! Wala akong alagang bulate!” giggled Maya.
“Eh basta gusto ko paring madinig! Tumatakas ka lang sa akin eh kaya ganyan!” said Richard then tried to tickle her on her sides.
Maya laughed. “Nagugutom na nga ako! Itigil mo na nga yan! Umayos ka honey ha! Sinabi ng itigil mo na eh!” pleaded Maya as she continued to laugh.
Richard continued to tickle Maya and their laughter filled the air when seconds later, they heard a knock coming from the door.
“Mga nak, Richard, Maya, gising na ba kayo?” asked Nanay Teresita.
“Ah opo Nay,” replied Maya.
“Eh lumabas na kayo jan at ng makapag-agahan na kayong dalawa. Tanghali narin mga anak.”
“Ok po nay. Lalabas na po kami,” answered Maya. She then turned to Richard and hit him in his arm.
“Ouch! What was that for?” he grinned.
“Kasi kanina ko pa sinasabing tumayo at lumabas tapos kinulit at kiniliti mo pa ako!”
“Anong ako? Eh ikaw kaya ang tumawa ng tumawa ng malakas jan. Kung hindi ka tumawa ng tumawa hindi malalaman nila nanay na gising na tayo, eh di hindi sana nila tayo kinatok,” chuckled Richard.
“Alam mo ikaw, puro ka talaga kalokohan! Ngayon ako pa ang sisisihin mo dahil pinatawa mo ako ng pinatawa?” said Maya, shaking her head in disbelief. “Ang mabuti pa, halika na at baka katukin pa ulit tayo nila nanay dito.”
“Ok,” he answered.
They both got out of bed and were about to proceed to the door when Richard suddenly spun Maya around and immediately captured her lips for a long lingering kiss. As they broke off, Maya immediately covered her mouth with her hands.
“Don’t worry, you don’t smell bad and your lips still taste sweet and I brushed my teeth thoroughly earlier so I’m sure, I no longer taste like lambanog,” he said proudly
Maya’s eyes went wide in shock. “Ibig sabihin pati toothbrush ko ginamit mo?”
Richard smiled and shrugged his shoulders. “It’s almost the same as kissing you. Let’s go baka katukin ulit tayo ni Nanay dito, sige ka,” he said, as he noticed the shocked expression on Maya’s face that did not leave right away.
By lunch time, Roberto and Esmeralda went back to the dela Rosa residence and joined Maya’s family for lunch. Even though Richard and Maya had late breakfast, they still joined their family at the dining table and chose to eat even just small portions of suman sa latik.
“So Maya hija, tell me, may napag-usapan na ba kayo ni Ricky regarding sa wedding niyo?” asked Esmeralda.
“So far Ma, ang napag-usapan palang namin ni Richard is gawin ito around December pero hindi pa namin napag-uusapan ang ibang details.”
“I see. I guess, you better start planning right away lalo na kung December niyo pala balak gawin ang wedding niyo. You’ve only got two months left. You know what, I know a very good wedding planner. You might want to give her a visit pagbalik natin sa Manila. She’s really good at her craft and I’m pretty sure, she’ll do an excellent job sa wedding niyo,” suggested Donya Esmeralda proudly.
“Sige po Ma. Makikipag-set po kami ng appointment ni Richard sa kanya,” replied Maya.
“Eh apo, ano bang klaseng kasal ang naiisip mo? Tradisyonal ba o gusto mo yung mga garden wedding?” asked Mamang.
Maya smiled bashfully. “Kung ako ang masusunod mang, parang mas gusto ko ang garden wedding eh at gusto ko rin sana yung kaibigan namin ni Richard na pastor ang magkasal sa amin.”
“You mean si Pastor Jay Bonifacio?” asked Richard.
“Oo sana, pero kung ayaw mo –“
“No, no,” cut Richard. “Alam mo bang I was thinking of the same thing as well! I’d also like us to have a garden wedding and si Pastor Jay ang mag-officiate!” shared Richard excitedly.
Everyone at the table laughed in amusement at what the couple shared.
“Tignan mo nga naman o! Sigurado ba kayong hindi niyo pa napag-uusapan ang tungkol sa kasal niyo? Talagang pareho kayo ng gusto ha! Soulmates nga kayong dalawa,” quipped Kute.
“Ayan, mukhang hindi naman na pala tayo masyadong magkakaproblema at kahit hindi niyo pa napag-uusapan eh pareho naman pala kayo ng gusto. Kung ganon, eh di venue pala ang dapat tayong maghanap ngayon,” said Mamang.
“Well, ang totoo po niyan Mamang, kung gugustuhin ni Maya, gusto ko sana dito nalang sa San Nicholas gawin yung kasal,” said Richard.
Maya looked at him. “Sigurado ka ba jan honey? Hindi ba mas magiging convenient kung sa Manila nalang or a province near Manila nalang gawin yung wedding? Wala naman akong masyadong guests mula dito, pero ikaw lahat ng friends and relatives mo nasa Manila lahat.”
Richard smiled reassuringly at her. “You don’t have to worry about them angel. If I have to rent a plane to fly them all here in San Nicholas, I’d be more than willing to do so. This place has become my second home and my sanctuary. This place had helped me a lot, taught me a lot, and garnered me new friends. This place meant a lot to me and I know it meant a lot to you too. Pero kung mas gusto mong gawin sa ibang lugar ang wedding natin, it’s more than fine with me as well. What’s important is us.”
Maya smiled at his words. “Well, gusto ko rin naman sana na dito na nga lang din gawin ang kasal.”
Richard smiled widely. “It’s settled then! We’ll have our wedding here in San Nicholas.”
Both parties agreed with the couple’s suggestions and Richard’s parents found nothing inconvenient about the whole set-up.
“Nga pala bunso,” said Kute, “alam mo bang may bagong gawang golf course na malapit dito sa atin?”
Maya shook her head. “Hindi. Hindi ko alam yun. Talaga?”
“Oo. Pinagdadausan din nga ng kasal yun eh. May isa akong kakilala na doon nagpakasal kasi garden wedding din ang gusto nila. Sabi niya maganda daw yung lugar tapos may katabi ring hotel. Mediterranean themed yung hotel kaya parang nasa ibang bansa ka nga daw pag andun ka. Baka gusto niyong puntahan at Makita baka sakaling magustuhan niyo,” suggested Kute.
“Sige. Ano sa tingin mo honey?” asked Maya.
“Ok sa akin, walang problema. Let’s take a look at the place after our lunch.”
As agreed, the whole family finished their lunch and proceeded to the place Kute was talking about.
As they reached the place and toured inside, both Richard and Maya cannot help but be in awe with its beauty. Everything from its natural and aesthetic beauty seemed to be perfect for them. And as they went to the hotel, they immediately knew, that it is the place they were looking for.
“Ang ganda dito Kute!” exclaimed Maya.
“And I couldn’t agree more. It’s like a haven. This place is perfect,” added Richard.
“Eh di kung ganon, tatanungin ko nalang yung kakilala ko kung sino ang pwede nating kausapin dito para mapa-book na natin para sa kasal niyong dalawa. Ako na ang bahalang makipag-usap. Ang mabuti pa, yung ibang details nalang ng kasal niyo ang asikasuhin niyong dalawa.”
“Salamat Kute!” thanked Maya.
Early the next day, Maya and Richard, together with the latter’s parents flew back to Manila. As they reached Manila, Richard wasted no time and immediately set up an appointment with the wedding planner and Pastor Jay. Pastor Jay agreed to meet with them at lunch and the wedding planner over dinner.
Everything went well for them. Being friends with the pastor, they didn’t need to ask him twice to have him agree to their request. The pastor was even more than willing to accommodate them in his schedule and the two can never thank him enough as they personally chose him to officiate their wedding.
As they met up with the wedding planner, Corrine immediately explained that Donya Esmeralda had already called her beforehand and had already informed her of some of the details of the wedding. After nearly two hours, they called it a day and Richard drove Maya back to the condo.
Two days later, Esmeralda and Roberto flew back to China as Roberto needs to oversee his business back home. Though they were miles apart, Both Esmeralda and Roberto regularly get in touch with Richard and Maya and eagerly ask them about the progress of the wedding preparations.
As the much awaited date draws nearer and nearer, the couple got busier than ever that they have to juggle their time from wedding preparations and work. Apart from the preparation for the wedding itself, Pastor Jay advised the couple to attend a marriage seminar which he explained would greatly help the two in establishing a better perspective about married life and building a Christian family.
Heeding the pastor’s advice, they have themselves enlisted on a marriage seminar conducted by CCF in Ortigas. The whole duration of the seminar had been enjoyable and fruitful for them. They not only earned themselves a couple of new friends and learned a lot of things about what to expect in a married life, they also learned a couple of things about one another.
Three weeks before the wedding, Richard & Maya were having lunch at the former’s mansion when they got a surprised visit.
“Surprise!!!” Rafi, Esmeralda, & Roberto exclaimed simultaneously.
Both Richard & Maya are surprised to see them. Richard, being first to recover, stood up from his seat and greeted the trio.
“What are you guys doing here?” he asked.
“Chard! What kind of a question is that!” groaned Rafi as she rolled her eyes.
Richard chuckled at her reaction. “What I meant was, bakit hindi manlang kayo nagpasabi na uuwi pala kayo? Maya and I could’ve fetched you sa airport.”
“Oh non-sense Chard. Sinadya talaga naming nila Tito and Tita na wag ipaalam sa inyong dalawa na uuwi kami. We wanted to surprise you guys,” explained Rafi.
“That’s true hijo. We wanted to surprise you kaya hindi na kami tumawag pa sa inyo,” added Esme.
“Clearly, your plan worked. We’re completely surprised by your sudden visit,” replied Richard.
“Oh Maya! I missed you so much!” said Rafi as she approached Maya and gave her a tight hug.
“Na-miss din kita Rafi! Ang tagal narin nating hindi nagkita eh,” replied Maya.
“Oo nga! Pero ngayon matagal tagal din tayong makakapag-bonding at matutulungan narin kita sa wedding preparations mo!”
“Naku, salamat Rafi ha! Medyo nagiging sobrang busy na nga kami nitong si Richard lately habang papalapit ng papalapit ang kasal,” uttered Maya.
“Ay nako hija! Ganyan talaga. Buti nga at meron ng mga wedding planners ngayon kaya mas madali na ang pag-aayos for the wedding. Naaalala ko noong kami ni Roberto ang kinasal. Wala pang mga wedding planners noon kaya mas nakakapagod ang paghahanda for the wedding,” said Donya Esmeralda.
“Nakakapagod at nakaka-stress nga but it’s all worth it naman,” added Don Roberto which earned a loving smile from his wife.
“Definitely it’s all worth it,” said Donya Esmeralda.
“Awww. Ang sweet naman talaga nila Tito and Tita. At sana naman ay ganyan din ka-sweet itong bestfriend ko. Tell me Maya, inaalagaan ka bang mabuti nitong bestfriend kong si Chard? May ilang weeks pa before the wedding. Pwedeng pwede ka pang mag-back out,” teased Rafi.
“Rafi, hinding hindi mangyayari yang sinasabi mo. Of course I’m taking good care of my fiancée. Hindi ko lang siya basta inaalagaan, minamahal ko pa siya ng sobra sobra,” said Richard proudly and draped his arm around Maya’s shoulders.
Rafi laughed at his response. “Oh my God Chard! Kelan ka pa naging ganyan ka-cheesy!!”
Everyone laughed at Rafi’s response. Seconds later, they all took their seats at the dining table.
“So tell me Maya, may nag-aarrange na ba ng bridal shower mo?” asked Rafi.
“Don’t tell me you didn’t give it a thought or is Chard here forbidding you to have one?” said Rafi, eyeing Richard sternly.
“Ay hindi naman Rafi. Hindi ko lang talaga naisip yun. Hindi ko rin naman na siguro kailangan yun,” replied Maya.
“Oh that’s a complete non-sense Maya! Buti nalang talaga at umuwi ako. Don’t worry ako na ang bahala sa bridal shower mo.”
“I think that’s a good idea Rafi. Count me in,” joined Esmeralda.
“Eh pero po Ma –“
“No more buts hija. Hayaan mo na kami ni Rafi. Besides, you’re already saying goodbye sa pagbubuhay dalaga so you must make the most out of it.”
“Eh pero Ma, tingin ko naman po hindi nap o kailangan pa non,” said Maya.
“Non-sense hija. If you’re worried about Ricky here, I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t mind if we’ll be arranging a bridal shower for you, right hijo?” asked Esmeralda.
“Of course Ma. It wouldn’t be a problem for me. May tiwala naman ako sa inyo ni Rafi eh,” smiled Richard.
“See! So it’s settled then. Kami na ang bahala ni Rafi don. Basta ang intindihin mo nalang ay yung wedding mo.”
Roberto then cleared his throat. “Umm, son. Papadaig ka ba naman sa mga girls? Aba kung may bridal shower, dapat may stag party ka din!”
Richard chuckled at his father’s suggestion. “Pa, I’ve been married once. I don’t think I still need a stag party. Si Maya ngayon palang niya ma-e-experience ang mga ganyan bagay so I think it’s just right for her to experience it.”
“Now you’re speaking non-sense hijo,” countered Don Roberto. “Even if you’ve been married once, bumalik ka ulit sa pagiging binata when Alex died. So just like Maya, you’re also saying goodbye sa pagbubuhay binata mo. It’s just right and appropriate that you have a stag party.”
“Pero pa –“
“No more buts Ricky. You will have a stag party no matter what,” said Roberto.
Richard heaved out a sigh. “Your call Papa. Ikaw ng bahala.”
“Good! So it’s settled then. I’ll arrange it right away para naman may panahon pa to prepare.”
“Mukhang extravagant stag party ang binabalak mo tito ah,” said Rafi.
“Of course! Minsan ko lang magagawa ito para sa aking unico hijo kaya might as well make it perfect. Hindi naman ako papayag na matalbugan kami ng mga girls,” said Don Roberto.
“Oh, I see! So you see us as a threat! Pabonggahan pala ang gusto mo ha. Ha! Tignan lang natin kung may ibubuga yang naiisip mo sa pinaplano namin ni Rafi!” countered Donya Esmeralda.
“Hinahamon mo ba ako Esmeralda?” asked Don Roberto.
“You started it,” answered Esmeralda.
“Well then darling, bring it on!” challenged Don Roberto.
Note: The pictures inserted in this chapter are taken from Royal Northwoods Golf & Country Club and El Masfino Resort & Hotel both of which are located in San Rafael Bulacan.