This is a continuation to The Rightful Owner – part 9.
Maya was walking fast although in a slightly zigzag fashion with Emman in tow. They were headed for the hotel’s driveway to retrieve Emman’s car that was valet parked.
Earlier when the party started, Maya said her goodbyes to James and people in their table. Her job that evening was done and she didn’t want to join the party. She used the alibi that she had too much wine which was partly true, hence, she needed to go home.
She walked past Richard who was talking to another T.A. officer. She didn’t even bother to say goodbye to him. She was very upset and it took a some acting skills on her part to smile to people around who wanted to take pictures with her when deep inside she was seething with anger.
There were many thoughts that ran in her head. She felt cheated not knowing that Richard and James were brothers. At least one of them could have told her. She had higher expectation on Richard because she felt closer to him after all the things that happened to them since they met.
She began to recollect all the events that transpired since she met the brothers separately. She wondered how she could have missed that information. When she checked on Richard in the internet, there was no mention of their relationship in the articles she read.
Additionally, she felt like the brothers made fun of her. In different ways, they showed their interest in her. She realized they used different tactics to get to her. Unfortunately, she fell for Richard. Then she tied it up with their pretend relationship in front of her mother. It was so easy for him to ride on her mother’s assumption because it was all for fun for him. The fact that he didn’t communicate with her in the past week supported her suspicion. In her upset moment, she informed Emman that she wanted to go home and they were leaving the hotel immediately.
When Maya walked past Richard and obviously ignoring him, he knew there was something wrong. She also behaved strangely towards him that evening which was very different from the last time they were together. So, he said his goodbyes to the officers he shared table with. He was slightly delayed when Alicia asked when they will see each other again. He promptly put her in her proper place by saying. “We’ll probably see each other in the next company event. My free time is now exclusive for someone.”
Richard followed the direction where Maya and Emman were headed to. He finally caught up with them at the waiting area outside the hotel lobby. He spoke directly to Emman since Maya turned her back on Richard as if she didn’t see him.
“Emman, if you don’t mind. I’ll take care of bringing Maya home. I need to speak to her.” Richard stated.
Upon hearing Richard’s statement, Maya turned and contradicted him; still not looking at Richard. “No, Emman, we are going home together.”
Richard gave Maya a quizzical look. She was indeed upset but he didn’t know why.
Emman was getting confused with the behavior of the two people in front of him. Earlier he had seen them talking but they seemed okay then. “Eh, Richard, parang ayaw ni Maya magpahatid. Besides, you don’t know where she lives.” In his thoughts, why these two seem to be quarrelling.
“Emman, I insist and please don’t mind your friend here. She will be going home with me. I know where she lives I’ve been to her place twice.” Richard looked directly at Maya.
“No, I’m not riding with you.” Maya challenged Richard whose patience was being tested at that time.
Emman observing their facial expressions and tone of voices confirmed that they were indeed fighting. There was an air of imminent battle knowing Maya. However, he also sensed something between them. They looked good together despite their current mode. Even their attire appeared coordinated with them wearing the same shade of blue. “There is indeed a spark!” He thought. So instead of concern, he felt excited for the two.
When Emman’s car arrived and stopped in front of them, he declared to Maya. “Girl, I have an appointment tonight dahil tumawag si Luigi. Since nag-volunteer na si Richard to bring you home, it’s fine with me because it will mean I can see Luigi earlier.” Emman had a half smile as he slightly raised a brow as if telling Richard to take care of his friend.
Richard understood Emman’s message. “Thank you, Emman. Drive safe.”
After giving an excuse, Emman got his key from the hotel valet driver and boarded his vehicle.
When Maya saw Emman going to his car, Maya attempted to follow him but Richard held her hand. She couldn’t walk away from him since Richard made sure their fingers intertwined making it difficult for her to disengage from him.
“Maya, there are several people now looking at us. Do you want to cause a scene here?” Richard moved closer to her as he spoke. He spoke to her in calm tone so not to create more attention to them.
She looked around and found only two people looking at them. She made a face at him but Richard ignored her. A few seconds later, Richard ushered her to return inside the hotel.
“Why are we going back? Akala ko ba iuuwi mo ako?” Maya stopped in the middle of the lobby. Again, she noticed few onlookers.
“Yes, uuwi ka pagkatapos nating mag-usap.” Richard told her. He then nudged her to the direction of the garden wing of the hotel.
“So, where are we going? I don’t want to talk to you.” She blurted out as she resisted his guidance.
“Mag-uusap nga tayo. Bakit ka ba kasi galit.” Richard was starting to lose his patience.
“Ayoko ngang kausapin ka. Naiinis ako sa’yo. Pinaglalaruan n’yo ako. Pwede iuwi mo na ako?” They have been walking around the hotel and until they reached the area of the hotel facing the mall side.
“So naiinis ka sa akin,you want me to bring you home? Okay, madali akong kausap.” Richard placed his arm around her waist and led her towards the exit of the hotel. She pushed him away from her.
“I’m just assisting you, okay? You are tipsy, I know you.” Richard’s hand was back on her waist. His brows furrowed.
They took the escalator that leads to the bridge way connecting the hotel to the Shangri-la mall.
As they walked on the path towards the bridgeway, Maya stopped again. “Why are we headed here? Ang layo na ng nilalakad natin. Be considerate naman, mahirap maglakad ng naka heels and in this dress.” Maya lifted her left leg showing her long and sexy limb. Richard immediately put his hand over her thigh to stop her from exposing herself further.
“Bakit kasi ganyan ang suot mo. Anyway, di ba you said iuwi ka so this is the way. Why are you being so difficult Maya?” He didn’t wait for any response from her but instead he lifted her off her feet. He walked towards the end of the bridgeway carrying her.
“Richard, ano ba? Ibaba mo ako.” She tried wriggling out of his arms. Richard stopped walking just before they reached the security guard area.
“Maya, I will put you down if you promise to stop being difficult and just follow me.” Richard looked at her eyes directly. She couldn’t meet his gaze with their face so close together. Although she was upset, she couldn’t ignore the smell of his cologne that’s filling her nostrils. He smelled so good. She finally kept quiet and nodded signifying she was willing to cooperate with him.
Richard placed her down and they walked side by side. His hand remained on her lower back to guide her. After crossing to the other side of the building, they went to an elevator and he pressed 5th level. When they got out of the lift, they turned left going to the other side of the building and took another elevator. He pressed 42th floor of the north tower.
“Richard, why are we here?” She opened her mouth once more.
Instead of answering, Richard just put a finger over her lips to silence her. “Shhhh.”
When the door opened, Maya realized they were in the residential side of Shangri-la so they must be in the new One Shangri-la Place. Richard took her hand and led the way to his unit.
Maya reluctantly entered his unit. Richard uttered. “You said you want me to take you home. This is my home.” He removed his jacket and placed it over the sofa after which he sat on the sofa’s arm.
“Mr. Lim, I don’t appreciate the joke. Hindi nakakatawa. I said I wanted to go home, sa bahay ko.” She uttered in frustration; her voice an octave higher.
“You said iuwi na kita. Therefore, I took you home.” It was another cheap move from him but sensing that she was mad at him, he couldn’t just let her go without talking to her and finding out what caused her upset.
Since Maya thought that he was playing around with her, she turned and was going to walk out on him.
Before she could touch the doorknob, Richard was beside her. “Maya don’t even attempt to leave this place. I won’t let you. We need to talk. I need to know why you are upset with me.” His voice carried a tone of warning.
She gave him dagger looks as she moved away from the door. In her thoughts, he is right. She should let him know why she was angry with him. So, she decided to sit on the sofa. Richard followed suit and sat on another sofa opposite her.
“Richard, why didn’t you tell me that you and James were brothers?” She started questioning him.
So, it was the reason she was mad at him, Richard realized. He became quiet as he pondered for a response. Then, he spoke. “Honestly Maya, I don’t know. It really didn’t cross my mind. I may have assumed that it was public knowledge. Maybe, I didn’t think it mattered. Hindi ko alam.” He paused for a moment and ended his response with a question.
“Hmm, is that the reason why you are angry with me?” It seemed to him there was more that she was keeping to herself.
“Are you aware that James’s courted me? Maya looked straight in his eyes. Then, it dawned on him that she might have misinterpreted their actions towards her.
“Yes, I am aware. And before you jump to any conclusion, I want you to know that we are not playing around with you. James was serious with his intentions.” He opened up hoping he didn’t sound defensive but before he could continue, Maya interjected.
“Eh, ikaw?” Maya’s eyes were piercing hinting that she was still annoyed despite his explanation. She may have drunk a lot that night but she was thinking properly. She wanted definite answers from him.
Richard couldn’t immediately respond as he searched for the right words to say to her. He himself couldn’t put into words exactly what he feels for her but he was sure of one thing. He stood up from where he was seated and sat very close to her.
He took Maya’s hand as he spoke. “Maya, since we’ve met, I’ve been attracted to you.” It was a short simple admission from him. She looked into his eyes as she searched for something else but found none.
Even with his admission, she hoped he’d say something deeper than that but he didn’t. She then remembered the past week when she anxiously awaited to hear from him but only got one impersonal call. She may have expected too much from him but she was still nurturing the pain brought about their phone conversation that Wednesday. She felt so unimportant.
Maya stood up and walked towards the door again. “Richard, I’d like to go home. Nakapag-usap na naman tayo.”
Richard followed her and wouldn’t let her go. “Maya, you’re still mad at me. I’ve told you the truth. What else do you want to know?” He thought being straightforward would help him but instead Maya gave him an icy cold stare. He was getting nowhere with her and he was getting frustrated too.
They stood by the door and when Richard tried to hold her arm, Maya brushed him away.
“Ewan ko sa’yo!” It was an angry reply that she wasn’t able to hold. “So, attracted ka pala sa akin but you never even bothered to call me up this past week, kung hindi pa ako tumawag sa’yo, siguro hindi ka tatawag sa akin.” She finally let out her frustration with him. She knew that by mentioning the call, she might have given away her feelings for him but she didn’t care anymore.
Richard saw the hurt in her eyes which pinched his heart for unknown reason.
“So, that’s the other one! You were upset because I only spoke to you once this week?” He ran his fingers over his hair as if trying to control his own temper. He placed his hands over her shoulder so she could face him directly.
“I’ve had a long, difficult week at work, Maya. But don’t ever think that I don’t care because I only called you up once.” His tone changed; he had the unusual torn expression on his face.
Richard looked at Maya in a way that sent unspoken words she could identify with. The intensity of his gaze melted her heart. She anticipated what he would say next.
“I’m sorry if I didn’t call. Pero na miss din kita, Maya.” He spoke in a low voice as his face moved closer to hers. His lips touched her lips for a light, almost feathery kiss. “I could have skipped this evening’s event, but I didn’t. I wanted to see you tonight.” He whispered in her ear; his hands slid to her arms.
Maya’s heart leaped with joy as she heard him say those words. It was an admission that was good enough for her. “Richard, I missed you.” She couldn’t keep it to herself anymore. Her anger towards him earlier was gone.
Finally, his hands encircled her waist. He drew her against his body so they could feel each other’s warmth as they shared a sweet, tender kiss. Then, it turned into a passionate kiss. He carried her towards his bedroom.
At dawn, Maya stirred when she felt a heavy hand over her chest. When she opened her eyes, she saw Richard still sleeping with his lips curled in a smile. Unable to resist the temptation, she traced his nose then his mouth with her finger. “Oh god, he’s so handsome. How she wanted to be with him.” She gazed at him tenderly and reminisce his expression during their love making. Then, she had a sudden dawning.
She is in love with him. She had been in love with him but just didn’t want to put a tag on it. She had been so in love that she gave up something very important to her. Her heart warmed with her own realization and admission. She gave him light kisses on the lips until he stirred.
Richard opened his eyes and found Maya’s face very close to his; their lips were millimeters apart. He smiled as he guessed she was kissing him in his sleep. He propped up himself beside her as he pinned her back on the bed with his leg over her thighs.
It was his turn to trace her facial features with his finger. “Thank you, Maya.” He gave her a smack on the lips.
“What for?” She had a confused look on her face.
“For last night, for that one time gift.”
“Now, you are mine.” He shifted his position and started another round of lovemaking. For the second time, she experienced an inexplicable feeling of want, need, pleasure and release that she didn’t know existed until Richard came into her life.