A/N: This is a continuation to The Art of Letting Go – part 38.
After an hour’s drive, Maya and the rest of the women from the dela Rosa and Lim household finally arrived at Republiq Club in Resorts World Manila.
Esmeralda and Rafi did take the challenge seriously. Not only did they rent the whole club, Cabana Club included, they also hired one of the best DJs around – Avicii.
As they got inside, decors, lights, blasting music filled the air. A couple of Maya’s guests were already inside and are already starting with their drinks. As the evening progressed, all of Maya’s guests finally arrived, mostly her friends and mentors at Time Airways. After settling down, Emman went up on stage and started on with the program.
“Ano Rafi, may update na ba? Malapit na daw ba sila?” asked Emman as she pulled Rafi on one side as the rest started to hit the dance floor, dancing their hearts out.
“Eh ang sabi ni Richard, nag-advise daw sa kanya na malapit na daw sila.”
“Sure ba yan? Baka naman mamaya kunwari lang yan. Kasi weird na mismong si Richard pa ang maghahanap ng mga sasayaw sa harap ni Maya.”
“Well I don’t think Richard would dare sabotage us. It is indeed weird pero eto na eh. Who knows, may mga kakilala din palang gays si Richard at sila ang nakausap niya,” said Rafi.
Emman simply laughed at her response. “Di bale. May mga nakahanda pa naman akong activities for tonight kaya ok lang kung wala pa sila.”
As they went back to the table, they noticed Maya sitting on one of the chairs, sipping an exotic margarita, subtly banging her head to the beat of the music.
“O roomie! Bakit hindi ka maki-join sa pagsasayaw nila o?” asked Emman.
Maya just waved her hand. “Dito na muna ako Emman. Kanina pa naman ako nakatayo at sumasayaw. Pahinga muna ako saglit.”
“Having a good time?” asked Rafi.
“Sobra!” grinned Maya. “Grabe! Hindi ko akalain na ganito ang gagawin niyo nila Mama! Thank you ng sobra Rafi.”
“Well don’t thank me yet Maya.”
“Huh? Bakit naman?”
“Let’s just say we still have a pending surprise for you,” smiled Rafi.
“May surprise pa?” asked Maya, confusion written all over her face. Rafi and Emman were both grinning at her. As a realization hit her, “Teka. Huwag niyong sabihing.”
Before Rafi could even answer back, she felt her mobile phone vibrate. Fishing it out of her pocket, she saw a text from Richard advising her that his friends had already arrived at the place. Giddily, she whispered the information to Emman, making the latter shriek and jump in excitement.
Immediately, he signalled the DJ to turn down the music a bit and got up on stage once more.
“Ladies!! Are you having fun?”
Everyone in the room was heard screaming and raising their glasses.
“And now, we have come to the highlight of the party.” The girls screamed louder and harder. “May we call on the bride-to-be to come up here on stage.”
Maya got apprehensive with the idea. She’s already starting to have an idea on what’s going to happen next. Seeing the surprised, apprehensive look on her face, everyone cheered and chanted her name aloud. Maya could only cover her face in embarrassment. Rafi went near her and assisted her towards the stage where a stool is waiting for her in the middle to sit on.
As Maya sat on the stage, Emman took over once more. “Are you ladies ready?” Hearing the loud screams from the ladies, “Ok. Everyone, count with me, five, four, three, two, one.”
With that, the lights dimmed and the song “Hot in Herre” by Nelly blasted in the air. A couple of seconds more, three men in complete fireman costume were found standing on stage. In tune to the groove of the music, the three in synchronized fashion, removed their fireman hats, exposing their faces which were covered with a mask, a Zorro-like mask.
Maya could no longer tell which is louder, the music or the screams coming from her guests. The next thing she knew, the men in front of her were not only swaying their bodies to the music but are slowly removing their firemen jackets as well, exposing their well-built sculpted bodies covered by a white sando. A couple of twists and turns, the three simultaneously ripped their sandos off, fully exposing their upper bodies. The guests went wild and an uproar was heard. Maya on the other hand was surprised by the turn of events and could only cover her face in complete embarrassment.
Unlike the usual bridal shower where the male strippers dance in front of the bride, the three men on stage deliberately turned their backs on Maya and faced the audience instead, where they continued to dance and sway to the music. Everyone, including Emman and Rafi had been too engrossed at the sight that beheld them to even notice the discrepancy.
Once the performance had ended, another uproar from the audience is heard. One of the guys approached the DJ and gave some instructions, then came back up on stage with a mic at hand.
“Are you ladies having some fun?” he said in a techno pop tone.
All the girls screamed yes followed by “more.”
The guy with the mic laughed. “Do you want more?” Everyone shouted “yes.”
“Before we continue, we have prepared a very special number specifically for our bride-to-be. Of course, we wanted this to be a very special, and a very unforgettable night for her. And this surprise is waiting for her at the Cabana Club.”
A lot of appalling sighs and some protests were heard.
“Sorry ladies but this is specifically for the bride’s eyes only. And don’t worry, we’re not planning anything nasty. We personally know her fiancée and we fear him greatly to ever harm his bride,” chuckled the guy earning a laugh from the guests.
“So if I may ask the bride to please proceed to the Cabana as your surprise is already waiting for you.”
If Maya was all apprehensive and nervous before the start of the highlight of the party, the feeling just got doubled, if not tripled. The thought of going alone inside the Cabana and not knowing what’s waiting for her cripples her to the bones.
Once again, everyone cheered for her as they saw her apprehension and uptight hesitation. Maya profusely shakes her head while covering her face. For a while, she remained adamant not to heed to the guy’s request.
Seeing this, the man with the mic approached her and whispered on her ear. “Trust us Maya.” He looked straight in her eyes and smiled.
Maya gave her a confused look. Something tells her that she knew who he was, the voice was all too familiar but she can’t seem to point it out right away. Somewhat assured by the man, Maya nodded her head and heeded to their requests.
“Let’s give it all up to Maya!”
Everyone cheered once more and clapped their hands.
Maya stood up from the chair, took a deep breath and went to proceed to the Cabana.
“Nak, hindi kaya kung mapano yung kapatid mo? Kasama ba ito sa plano niyo?” asked Teresita.
“Hindi ko alam Nay. Parang wala naman kaming napag-usapang ganito nila Tita Esme eh,” replied Kute which forced them to approach Rafi to clarify everything.
“Rafi, bakit parang hindi yata ito kasama sa napag-usapan natin.”
“Eh kasi Kute nagkaroon ng last minute changes.” Rafi explained to Kute and Nanay Teresita how the Emman’s friends backed out and how Richard offered to help.
“Teka. So ibig mong sabihin pakana ni Richard ang lahat ng ito?” asked Kute.
“Yeah! I found it weird at first but when he said he was serious and now the evidence is here,” grinned Rafi. “Can you believe that? Kaya am pretty sure, whatever surprise is waiting for Maya at the Cabana, she’ll be totally fine. I know Chard had everything planned and in control.”
“Ah.” Kute turned her gaze on to the stage where the dancers where and fixed her gaze on one of the dancers. She slowly nodded her head as a realization hit her. “Tingin ko alam ko na kung anong surpresa ang naghihintay kay bunso sa Cabana?”
“Ano naman anak?” asked Teresita.
Kute simply gave them a knowing smile.
As Maya got to the Cabana, she found the place empty with only a stool in the middle of the floor. She looked around trying to find anyone but there’s none. Thinking the stool may have been placed in the middle on purpose she decided to go near it and sat on it.
A second later, music filled the room. She wasn’t familiar with the song but the melody and its lyrics sent shivers down her spine, making her cringe. She was getting more uncomfortable every passing minute. Already in the verge of walking out, a man appeared on the corner, wearing the same zorro-like mask, but sports a corporate look – white long sleeved polo with black tie tucked in a black slacks and black leather shoes.
She could hardly recognize the face behind the face but there’s something all too familiar about the man in front of him. Captured by intrigue and the mysteriousness of the man in front of her, Maya lost any reason to leave the room.
Fully capturing the attention of his audience, the man started his performance. Not really a dancer himself, he settled on the idea of swaying his hips side to side in tune to the music. Slowly, he walked towards were Maya was and started walking around her, teasing her, all the while trying to maintain eye contact.
“Parang kilala ko itong lalaking ito..” she thought.
The guy went up in front and started to remove his clothes one by one, starting off with his shoes. He noticed that Maya seemed to be lost in her own thoughts so after removing his shoes, he moved on to remove his tie and tossed it at her.
The tie landed on her lap and caught Maya by surprise. Lifting the tie from her lap, she shifted her gaze back to the man and was surprised to see that he no longer have his shoes and his tie on and was currently undoing the cuffs of his shirt. Maya’s breath hitched.
A smile formed on his face.
“Oh God!” she thought. All idea of trying to figure out who the man was fled out of the window. Anticipation of his every move consumed her, making her silently pray to God above, wishing that he wouldn’t totally bare his body in front of her. Until she noticed him unbuttoning his polo, very very slowly, from the very first button on top going down. Her palms are starting to sweat and her heart going wild every minute.
His body still doing the slow seductive dance. Hips and body swaying in a very seductive manner.
He now reached the last button. Maya trembled even more and could no longer control her blush. “Naku po! Paano ba to!”
Slowly, he removed his belt and unbuttoned his pants, letting it fall to the ground.
Maya’s eyes went wide in shock at what he did and instinctively covered them with her hands. “Ayyy!!” she screamed, trembling profusely as she continue to chant inaudible prayers.
The man laughed at her reaction. Stepping out of his pants, wearing nothing but his fully unbuttoned polo, exposing his well-sculpted chest and flat abs which has obvious traces of muscles around, and a boxer brief, he moved slowly to where Maya was, who obviously does not want to look at him or even have a glimpse.
As he got near her, he tried to gently yank her hands away from her face but Maya shakes her head profusely making him laugh even more. He urged her to remove her hands but she wouldn’t do so.
Maya was already on the verge of panic when he spoke to her. “You can take my boxer brief off now,” he said in a sultry tone.
The last straw snapped, Maya now totally consumed by panic, pushed the man away from her. “Pervert!” she shouted and started running towards the door but her exit was blocked by the man who was obviously amused by her actions.
“Palabasin mo ako dito! Palabasin mo ako!” shouted Maya.
The man just laughed at her.
Fear and panic eating her some more. “Pag hindi mo ako pinalabas dito sasapakin talaga kita!!”
The man raised a hand trying to stop her as he can’t seem to stop his laughter. Maya tried to push him once again so she can walk out of the room but the man hugged her from behind making her shriek and scream out of fear.
Struggling to break free, Maya screamed on top of her lungs. “Pakawalan mo ako! Pakawalan mo ako!! Rafi!!! Kute!! Nay –“
“Angel! Angel! Stop! It’s me!” he said.
“Kute!! Nay!! Emman!! Tulungan niyo ako!!”
“Angel!! Angel!! It’s me! Richard!”
Maya stilled. Slowly she turned around and saw Richard beaming at her.
“Honey?” she asked, confusion written all over her face. “Ikaw ba talaga yan?”
Richard grinned at her. “Yes. It’s me.”
Slowly, her confusion turned to realization then turned to irritation. Without warning, she started hitting Richard with her hands. “Nakakainis ka! Tinakot mo ako! Hindi mo ba alam yung takot ko! Muntik na akong atakihin sa’yo! Akala ko may mangyayari na sa aking masama! Nakakainis ka! Tatawa taw aka pa –“
“Angel sorry na sorry na,” Richard apologized in between laughs. He tried to cover his body from her hitting hands.
As exhaustion consumed her, breathing hard, Maya finally stopped. Richard took the opportunity to go near her and hug her.
“I hate you,” she said.
“Angel. Sorry na.”
“Eh tinakot mo kaya ako ng husto!”
“Tignan mo at tatawa tatawa ka pa jan!” Maya tried to break free but Richard hugged her tighter. “Bitawan mo nga ako!”
“Angel. Sorry na please. Hindi na ako tatawa. Hindi ko naman gustong takutin ka eh. Gusto ko lang i-surprise ka.”
Maya’s head jerked up. “I-surprise eh pananakot ang ginawa mo! Halos atakihin na ako sa nerbyos dahil sa ginawa mo!”
Richard held her face and looked in her eyes. “Ok, it’s completely my fault. I’m sorry hm. Sorry na.”
Seeing the apologetic look in his eyes, Maya nodded and hugged him back. A second later, she jerked her head once more. “Teka! Di ba may bachelor’s party ka din ngayon? Eh bakit nandito ka?
Richard chuckled. “It’s a long story. I’ll tell you later.”
“Ok. Mabuti pa, lumabas na tayo. Let’s join the others outside.”
“Ok. But let me get dressed first.”
Taking in his words, Maya raked her gaze over him from head to toe. Realizing that he’s half-naked in front of her, she immediately turned around. “Ano ka ba honey! Magbihis ka nga!”
Richard laughed in amusement and hugged her from behind. “Nahiya ka pa eh nakita at nayakap mo na nga ako kanina eh.”
“Richard!” she reprimanded him irritably.
Richard’s head fell back in laughter. “Ok eto na magbibihis na.” Richard gathered his things and started dressing up once more.