Note: This is a continuation to The Rightful Owner – part 19
As they entered the house, James and Maya marveled at the interior of the place. If it has simple external facade, the interior was opposite. The interior was obviously designed to incorporate local, indigenous materials. The wall paper was predominantly accentuated with T’nalak materials and with the furniture around, one would get a feel of traditional and yet classy house.
“Maya, pwede mo munang gamitin ‘yung guest room. Maaga kayong bumiyahe kanina so baka gusto mong magpahinga muna. Maghahanda naman ako ng tanghalian natin.” Manang Fe suggested.
James butted in. “Oops, ako po saan ako?”
“Ha? Paano ba ‘yan James, dalawa lang ang rooms dito sa bahay na’to. Isa yung kay Richard at yung isa guest room. Di maki-room share ka na lang kay Ricky.” Manang Fe suggested.
“Ano? Bakit ako? Di ba dapat si Maya?” He winked at Maya whose face turned red.
She was momentarily distracted from the nervousness of seeing Richard again. That day, she had planned on setting aside all her pride if only to keep him.
“James!! Ano ka ba? Puro ka biro.” Manang Fe chuckled at James’s suggestion.
“Manang Fe, parang mas maganda ‘yung sila ang magkasama kesa kami ni Kuya. Or worst, di naman kami pwede ni Maya ang mag-room share.” They all laughed at James comments. They didn’t’ realize that Richard had gone out of his room and could hear their noises as he was going down the staircase.
As Richard entered the living room where the three were talking, he was calling out “Manang, and’yan na ba si Manong Bebot? Manang..” He was shocked to find them looking at him.
Richard’s heart jumped out of control when he saw Maya. Her eyes were fixed on him. He went on her side and they hugged each other. Their smiles for each other were tentative.
“Kuya!” James needed interrupted them as he gave Richard a quick brotherly hug.
“James, how did you get here? How did you know that I am here?” Richard asked his brother who was now smiling broadly at him.
Manang Fe knowing how the conversation will end, interjected. “Ricardo, maiwan ko na kayo at magluluto na ako. Bahala na kayong mag-usap usap d’yan.” She escaped from being grilled by Richard.
“Well, I have my sources. Anyway, we are here. We got to the airport very early this morning. Sabi ni Manang Fe, magpahinga muna kami while lunch is being prepared. So, paano?” James explained to his brother.
Richard raised an eyebrow. “You can use the guest room. It’s upstairs, on the left side from the top of the staircase.” Richard directed him.
James broad smile never left his face as he glanced at Maya who was just watching them. She looked uneasy. “Eh, si Maya?”
“She’s staying with me.” Richard responded in a matter-of-fact tone and picked up Maya’s bag. He took her hand and led her upstairs.
Richard’s room was big, almost the same size as his bedroom in Makati. However, the bed was smaller than his usual king size bed.
When they entered his room, Richard hugged her again and kissed her on the forehead. He was glad that she was there and Maya sensed it. She too was happy as it seemed her plan will succeed.
Then, he said.. “You look tired, hon. Do you want to take a nap first?” He noticed the dark circles in her eyes.
“Medyo, 2 hours lang tulog ko kagabi kasi eh. May taping ako hanggang 1:00 a.m.” She half smiled.
“Tsk.” was the sound that came out of his lips as he run his fingers on his hair. “Alright, try to get a rest first. I’ll come back for you when lunch is ready. Then, we’ll talk later.” He looked at her tenderly.
Richard then left Maya as she opened her luggage to change to a more comfortable attire. When she entered the bathroom for a warm shower, she smelled his cologne permeating the bathroom. She smiled when she remembered James’s statement earlier, “he won’t turn you away.” She was happy that he didn’t. Moments later, she laid down his bed and hugged one of his pillows. She missed him so much. Unconsciously, her tears fell to the side of her face. She fell asleep like that.
When Richard returned to the room, he found Maya curled in his bed, sleeping. As he stared at her face, he noticed the trace of tears on her eye that crossed over her nose.
His heart ached with pain and guilt for making her cry. It was his jealousy that was slowly killing them both.
Unable to contain his emotion, he kissed her lightly on the cheek then her lips. When his lips touched hers, she stirred in her sleep. He pressed his lips harder and she slightly opened her mouth and kissed him back. It looked like she was dreaming because her eyes were still shut but a tear came out from a corner of her eye.
“Maya” He said softly as he checked her. She was indeed sleeping.
Maya woke up when she felt a hand gently shaking her. “Maya, Maya, anak” It was Manang Fe.
“Ayy, Manang, sorry po at nakatulog ako.” Maya immediately sat up and fixed her hair.
“Halika na sa baba para makapag lunch ka na. Siguradong gutom ka na.” Manang Fe invited her.
“Sige po Manang, eh sina Ricky po?” She asked as they were leaving the room.
“Si Ricky, kanina pa umalis. May pupuntahan daw sa GenSan.” Manang Fe noticed Maya’s expression changed to worry. “Wag kang mag-alala, babalik ‘yun. Si James naman, nasa beach nag-swi-swimming na. Yung isang ‘yon mahilig din sa tubig kagaya ng kapatid n’ya.”
Manang Fe kept on talking as they went to the dining area. She served several dishes to Maya who already seated in the dining table.
“Mamaya, mag-iihaw ako ng tuna at saka magluluto ako ng nilagpang. Paborito ng dalawa ‘yun. Sana magustuhan mo rin. “ Manang Fe futher shared.
“Thank you po Manang.” Maya appreciate the attention Manang Fe was giving her.
“Wala ‘to Maya. At saka, kabilin- bilinan ni Ricardo, alagaan kita habang wala s’ya.” Maya’s heart warmed when she heard that Ricky wanted her taken care of.
Richard came back at around 5:00 p.m. He immediately looked for Maya in the room but she wasn’t there. When he went to the living room, he found Manang Fe watching the TV.
“Manang Fe, nasaan po si Maya? Si James?” He asked.
Manang Fe turned to look at him and said. “Si Maya nagpunta sa beach, magpapahangin daw. Si James tulog matapos mag-swimming.”
Ricky turned to leave when Manang Fe stopped him. “Ricardo, maupo ka muna dito. Baka gusto mong manuod ng TV. May interview si Maya tungkol sa issue sa kanya.”
“Manang, tsismis na naman ‘yan. I don’t want to watch that. Our problem started because nagpadala ako sa mga balita. I’d rather talk to her.” Richard told his nanny with a tinge of annoyance.
“Ikaw ang bahala pero itong ipapalabas nila si Maya ang mag-sasalita.” The elder lady said.
Richard had taken several steps going to the porch leading to the beach when he heard Maya’s name mentioned on the show Manang Fe was watching.
It was an interview with ABN’s Sunday talk show hosted by Tito Boy. Richard momentarily stopped and waited out of curiousity. He saw the camera shifted focus from the host to Maya. She was pretty with little make up on her face but her eyes lacked life.
“Maya, salamat sa paunlak sa aming show na mainterview ka.” Tito Boy started.
“Salamat din Tito Boy for the opportunity to air my side.” She responded.
“So, let’s get straight to the point Maya. Maraming haka-haka tungkol sa’yo ngayon na you are dating the mayor of your town. May mga article na lumabas tungkol sa inyo, once and for all, paki claro mo, are you and Mayor Simon Corpruz in a relationship?” Upon hearing the question, Richard couldn’t leave anymore. He walked nearer where the TV was , not minding the presence of Manang Fe who was looking at him with interest.
“Tito Boy, sasagutin ko po ang tanong n’yo ngayon lang. At sana, ito na po ang una at huli kong pagsasalita tungkol dito.” She paused and then looked straight to the host. “I am not in a relationship with Simon.
Magkaibigan kami dahil magkababayan kami. He was my boyfriend before I entered show business pero ngayon strickly friends lang kami. May sarili na po s’yang pamilya at may sarili din akong personal na buhay. So, sana po, ‘wag na kaming intrigahin.” She delivered her message calmly and convincingly.
“Maya, may ilang araw ka ring nanahimik tungkol sa balitang ito, ang pagsasalita bang ito ay nangangahulugan na aaminin mo na rin kung sino ang tinatagong boyfriend mo?” Tito Boy followed up with another question.
Maya took a deep breath. “Tito Boy, hindi ko naman tinatago ‘yung boyfriend ko. He is a private person and he is not from show business.” She clarified.
“So, ‘tong issue ba sa inyo ni Mayor Simon has affected your relationship with your boyfriend?” Tito Boy asked.
Maya shook her head and looked away. She didn’t want to respond to that question and the Tito Boy understood it.
Richard remained glued on the screen with his heart beating so fast. He didn’t expect she would have herself interviewed like that. As far as he knew, it was always Emman who handled these things for her.
“Okay Maya, ganito na lang. Dalawang maiksing tanong answerable by yes or no.” Maya nodded in agreement.
“Ang boyfriend mo ba ay isang executive sa airline industry at ang pangalan n’ya ay Richard?”
With her eyes becoming teary eyed but with a smile on her face. “Yes, Tito Boy.” The host clapped his hand in delight. “Thank you, Maya.”
“Eh, isa pa pala, since umamin ka na naman. Anyway message for Richard?” The camera zoomed in to Maya and she looked straight to the camera for a short message.
“Hon, I love you. I miss you.” Although she said it with a smile on her lips, her eyes were sad. It was as if she leaped out of the screen to be in front of him. Her message pierced through his heart. He was overwhelmed by her pronouncement over national TV.
Richard immediately run out of the house to find Maya.
Maya checked her watch and it was fifteen minutes past five in the afternoon. She had been waiting for Richard all afternoon and felt disappointed that he wasn’t around. She thought she could watch with him her TV interview. She wanted to prove to him how much she loves him. The TV interview was to take away any doubt he had with her.
She had been out on the beach for almost two hours appreciating the tranquility of the place. She was playing with the white sand on her feet when she suddenly felt strong pair of arms enveloping her body. She immediately recognized it was Richard’s. She knew his scent and feel of his arms. She must have imagined it but she was sure she heard the birds singing.
She turned around to face him and found tears in his eyes. She also felt his heart pounding loud.
“Maya, I’m very sorry, honey. I love you.” Richard cupped her face with his two hands, his eyes gazing at her with love and tenderness.
Maya’s eyes welled up as she gazed at him too. She began to sob uncontrollably. All the hurt and longing she felt for the past week seemed like a waves engulfing her.
“Ricky…I love you too.. I’m sorry din.” She said intermittently.
“No, honey. It was my fault. I didn’t listen to your explanation. I didn’t trust our love for each other. Please forgive me” Their foreheads were close together and their lips only two inches apart.
“Ako din, sorry kasi I didn’t love you enough for you not to doubt. You mean so much to me Ricky.” She hugged him tighter.
Richard then tilted her head and kissed her passionately. They kissed with such intensity that they were catching their breath when they stopped.
It was Richard who spoke first. “Hon, so bati na tayo?” His lips curled into a smile.
“Bakit? Ikaw lang naman ang nang-away sa akin ah.” She pinched his cheek in response to his question.
He laughed and gave her a smack on the lips. “I’m very sorry inaway kita. Pasens’ya ka na at sobrang seloso ang boyfriend mo.” His admission made Maya’s heart leap with joy.
She leaned her head on his shoulder. They remained locked in an embrace as the sun finally set and the lights coming from the main house illuminated the beach front.
“Richard” “Maya” They uttered their names at the same time as they looked at each other. They both smiled.
Since Richard’s expression told her to go ahead with her intention, Maya uttered as she looked straight in his eyes. “Ricky, I love you very much. I don’t want to lose you. Will you marry me?”
Richard was dumbfounded.