Note: This is a continuation to The Rightful Owner – part 16.
em>A week earlier.
Maya couldn’t help but react negatively when she read the articles about her. Other than the slant in the way the story was told, she was more worried that Richard might read them even before she can tell him personally about Simon. She just prayed that he is not reading news or watching TFC while in California.
She decided to call up Emman.
“Hello Emman” She waited for several rings before he finally picked up the call.
“Hi Maya, ano’t napatawag ka ng maaga?” He seemed to have just woken up.
“Hindi mo ba nabasa yung gossip column yesterday?” Maya wondered why he seemed to be calm when he used to be very updated on articles or news about her.
“Ang ano?” Emman asked.
“Ayyy, anu ba ‘tong manager ko! Kahapon pa lumabas yung news about me and Simon. Tapos today, may additional pa with matching photos na. So, you weren’t aware of it? Kaya pala si Angie ang nagsabi sa akin kanina.” Maya explained to Emman.
“So, anong sabi? Anyway, normal lang naman ‘yan. People don’t know who you are dating so there’s always a speculation. Remember ‘yung kay Papa P, it died a natural death.” Emman tried to calm her.
“Emman naman. This kind of publicity is not something I want. I was just doing charity work and now, na link na ako kay Simon. Pati history naming naungkat na. Eh, alam naman natin na may asawa si Simon. So, ayusin mo ‘to.” She further complained.
“Okay, I’ll take care of it. Kaya pala kaninang umaga ang phone ko ang daming missed calls from our reporter-friends, siguro mag-ku-confirm. Alam mo naman pag araw naming ni lovey ko, eh, di ako pwede istorbohin. Anyway, Bes, ako na ang bahala. Ano pang worry mo dear?” Emman’s commitment somehow lessened her anxiety.
“Hayyy, na sana umuwi na si Richard para makausap ko na at hindi n’ya masagap ang mga balitang ito bago kami magka-usap.” She shared her other worry.
“Ayun! Sa tingin ko mas worried ka kay Richard kesa sa tsismis. Tama?”
“Ganun na nga, di ba nga, na-share ko na sa’yo na medyo seloso ‘yun. So, I’m just being sensitive pag-dating sa bagay na ganyan.”
“Jealousy spices a relationship, girl. At saka with your profession, dapat masanay s’ya.” Emman teased her to lighten up her mood. He knew that she was serious from the tone of their conversation.
“Naku Emman, hindi ko kasi matant’ya si Richard pagdating sa ganito. The last time na nagselos ‘yun napakatahimik, natakot ako.”
“Anyway, kausapin mo na lang kaya. I suggest that you call him up or mag facetime kayo. Unahan mo na.” Emman final words to her before they ended the call.
When Maya tried to reach Richard later, his phone was unavailable. She left a message to him but for the rest of the day, there was no return call from him. Due to their hectic schedules for that week, they were unable to communicate with each other.
After the news came out about her and Simon, she also immediately called up Simon so they can talk. She didn’t want the story about them to spread further. Since Simon was in the mayors’ league conference, he couldn’t meet with her but he was aware of the stories going around about them. He was taking it lightly which somehow irritated Maya. She wanted to talk to him longer but he had limited time availability. In the end, he promised to call her up and deny the speculations about them if any reporter talks to him.
Maya let Emman handle the issue with the press people. In turn, he provided the answer that they were just friends and they did a charity work for San Nicolas town. But still, speculations continued. So, it was a long week of anxiety for her as she declined several reporters asking for interviews and confirmation.
Sunday morning, Maya received an unexpected visitor in the person of Simon. She wasn’t expecting him to be in her house morning especially when she was expecting Richard that day. Richard arrived from the U.S. Saturday midnight and he told her he is coming over before lunch.
Maya entertained her visitor at the lanai. Somehow, she didn’t feel like talking to him that day. Her heart was palpitating as if something bad was going to happen that day.
“Maya, thank you for accommodating my visit.” Simon started the conversation.
“It’s fine Simon. Maganda na rin magkausap tayo ng personal. Alam mo na ‘yung kumakalat na tsismis sa atin kailangan pag-usapan. We are friends and we come from the same town. We worked on a charity project so we don’t want to add color sa mga bagay-bagay.” She thought putting everything in proper perspective would set the tone of their dialogue.
Simon looked at her intently as if trying to say something to her. After a while he declared to her. “As I told you Maya, I don’t mind about that news. I’m not bothered by it…kasi sa totoo lang… gusto ko sanang balikan ka.”
She was surprised and confused by his confession. “Simon! Anong pinagsasabi mo d’yan. Matagal na tayong break at nag-asawa ka na. We both moved on. At saka may boyfriend na ako.” She said in a voice with an octave higher.
“Alam mo naman na nagpa-annul na ako. We are just waiting for the official decision. It didn’t’ work for us kasi I knew in my heart that I still love you. I realized that the past two weeks that we worked on the charity project for San Nicolas. Bumalik lahat ng nakaraan. I think you would be a better first lady of our town, pati sa puso ko, Maya.”
“Simon, we just worked on a project. Siguro na appreciate mo lang ang effort ko. Besides, I’m in commited to someone now.” Still, she upset with him.
“I made a huge mistake five years ago to let you go. If we didn’t break up, by this time, we probably have children.” Simon pursued his intention as if he didn’t hear her.
“Excuse me Simon, don’t assume that I will marry you. It didn’t even come to the point in our relationship that we talked about marriage. Kahit nagka-relasyon tayo, klaro sa akin ang priorities ko. I’d rather keep my career than our relationship. Kaya nga tayo nag-break, if you remember. At saka, pwede konting respeto naman sa boyfriend ko.” She told him with a tinge of annoyance.
But as she looked at the face of Simon, she remembered that he is still a friend. They grew up together and that friendship can still be saved if they would just be reasonable. Simon was mum again.
He looked sad and she took pity on him. “Pasensya na Simon kung masyadong brutal ang pagkakasabi ko. Pero, there is no way that we can be back together. I have a boyfriend that I love very much. In fact, I am waiting for him because we usually spend our weekends together.”
“Maya..” Simon tried to take her hand but she brushed it away gently.
“No Simon. Sana ‘wag mo naman sirain ang natitira nating pagkakaibigan. Please lang.” She looked at him intently. “I think you better go. I will forget what you said today.” She said with finality as she stood up an indication she was dismissing him.
When Simon sensed that his time has ended, he complied. He left his seat and extended his hand to shake her hand, she took it in good faith. However, as soon as their hands touched, he pulled her towards him and had his other arm encircled her back. He then uttered the words, “I love you, Maya.”
“Simon…” Maya was momentarily shocked with Simon’s act. She was about to push him away when she noticed a movement just right across where they were standing. Her eyes grew wide when she saw Richard standing at the foyer leading to the lanai. He must have there for a while judging by his facial expression. He looked very angry with his clenched fists. Maya felt her whole body tremble when she saw him turned his back and walked away.
Maya immediately pushed Simon and ran after Richard.
“Ricky…. Ricky…” Maya called him but he didn’t turn but continued walking out of the house, to the lawn. “Ricky!”
She finally caught him at the gate before he opened it. “Let me explain.”
“Maya, I am not in the right mood to talk. I’m leaving.” He told her as he turned around to face him.
“Richard, it’s not what you think. I can explain everything.”
“I’m sure you can explain everything. In fact, I have mentally prepared to listen to your explanations since I have read and heard a lot. But what I didn’t prepare for was to see you in that… that guy’s arms!” His eyes blazing in anger.
“You were aware I was coming over. Pwede mo naman akong kausapin muna if you wanted out of our relationship. I was only away for 3 weeks Maya and we didn’t talk only for a week! You could just have at least broken up with me before you do something like that.” He blurted out. The anger and pain in his eyes were piercing through her heart.
It hurt when he mentioned the word break-up. Her feet remained glued where she was standing as she saw Richard turned his back on her. A few seconds later, she heard the roar of his car leaving her place.
As soon as Richard drove away, his eyes welled up. He couldn’t believe what he saw. With the intensity of his anger, he wanted to punch the guy she was with. It took a lot of self-control not to do that. It also came to his mind that Maya probably has explanation. But then again, he saw everything, his arm was around her and her body was so close to him. He clearly heard the words, I love you, Maya. It wasn’t a friendly declaration of affection. It was an utterance of love of a man to a woman. His heart bled when he saw Maya stall on her response. She could have pushed him away if that hug didn’t mean anything to her.
Instead of going back to his place, Richard drove directly to the airport. He booked himselft the earliest flight out of Manila going Davao. He dialed someone’s number to arrange for an airport pick-up. He was going to his sanctuary, a place where that will help lessen the pain in his heart.