A/N: This is a continuation to The Art of Letting Go – part 39.
After the party, everyone went to their respective homes. Richard practically never heard the end of Rafi’s tease regarding what he did for Maya and how he participated in the Bridal Shower. Though no one really saw how he danced in front of his fiancée, the mere thought that he indeed danced sent Rafi and the rest into frenzy. They laughed their heads off with the idea all the while making fun of Richard relentlessly. That is all except for one who is visibly upset with what he did.
“Kaya pala bigla nalang nawala yang anak mo pati yung iba niyang mga kasama kanina. May iba pala silang mga plano!” Roberto shakes his head as he vents out his frustration. They were all gathered in the living room as Rafi took the lead narrating in an animated fashion, everything that transpired in Maya’s Bridal Shower.
“Roberto, what can we do? You’re son’s head over heels in love with Maya! Can’t you see, he’s more than willing to move heaven and earth just to give Maya what she needs!” answered Esmeralda with a huge grin on her face.
Roberto rolled his eyes on his wife. He knows that his wife is very much delighted by what Richard did, not only because of her romantic idea of how much his son loves Maya, but because of the ongoing wager that they have. Though he refuses to accept it, Roberto smells defeat on his side but he can only blame it all on Richard’s treachery.
“Whatever Esmerlada! He still shouldn’t have left his bachelor’s party! How can it even be called a bachelor’s party if the groom-to-be himself was not there!” said Roberto, stressing out his point heavily.
Esmeralda simply laughed at her husband’s irritation. “Yun ba talaga ang kinaiinis mo Roberto o naiinis ka dahil natalo ka sa pustahan natin?”
Roberto shot his wife an incredulous look. “First off, I planned a perfect bachelor’s party for Ricky. Sino ba naman ang matutuwa kung yung pinaghandaan mo ng such party ay tatakasan ka lang?? Second, the wager is null and void!”
Esmeralda’s eyes, together with Rafi’s eyes rounded immediately after hearing this. “Null and void?? And how did it become null and void Roberto?” challenged Esmeralda.
Roberto squared his shoulders trying to intimidate his wife. “Unang-una, walang bachelor’s party na naganap since wala naman yung groom-to-be sa party. Second, Ricky took part in your party! He was supposed to be my ally! What he did was a clear act of betrayal! So the wager’s over!”
“Indeed it is over because WE won,” replied Esmeralda.
“Didn’t you just hear me Esmeralda? I just said –“
“Yes I heard you Roberto but your reasons are implausible. Even if Richard left your party early, the party still continued on. And, we girls didn’t ask for our son’s help to execute the bridal shower perfectly. He did it all by himself. And he did it all for his love for Maya. So if you feel betrayed by him, don’t put it against us, that’s already between you and our son,” countered Esmeralda which had Rafi nodding in agreement.
“Roberto. Roberto. Could you just stop whining and simply accept your defeat graciously?” said Esmeralda with a mock.
Roberto knew it was the end of the battle for him. He’s really not going to win this over his wife. With much frustration, he turned to Richard instead. “This is all your fault son! You betrayed me!” In a huff, Roberto left and went to the bedroom.
Esmeralda and Rafi laughed their hearts out after seeing Roberto leave, giving each other a high five. Teresita and Kute who were not used to this seeming argument between Roberto and Esmeralda only have concerned looks on their faces.
“Ah eh balae.” Teresita called out the attention of Esmeralda hesitantly. “Parang napikon yata si balaeng Roberto. Mukhang nagalit yata sa nangyari kanina.”
Esmeralda chuckled. “Oh don’t worry balae. Hindi galit yun. Napikon lang.” She laughed once again at the idea of Roberto being pissed.
“Sigurado ka ba jan balae? Hindi siya galit? Baka kasi magkaroon pa kayo ng tampuhan o di pagkakaunawaan niyan,” Teresita said worriedly.
Esmeralda waved her hand dismissively. “Oh don’t you worry balae. Sabi ko nga sa’yo napikon lang yun. Mamaya lang ay magiging okay narin yun at makikitawa narin sa atin yun. Sa ngayon ay hindi lang niya matanggap na natalo siya sa pustahan,” assured Esmeralda.
Teresita smiled tentatively and nodded her head.
“Ikaw kasi Ma. Nakita mo na ngang nainis na si Papa sa ginawa ko lalo mo pang inasar,” said Richard.
Esmeralda raised her hands on her either side, palms up, and shot her shoulders up. “What can I do? Nakakatuwa kasing asarin ang Papa mo! Masyadong pikon!”
“You really are so mean tita!” laughed Rafi.
Esmeralda tried to control her laugh. “Eh totoo naman kasi! Anyway, si Ricky naman kasi talaga may kasalanan kung bakit nainis si Roberto.”
“I was just kidding son! Pero salamat ha. Because of what you did, we won the wager!” chuckled Esmeralda.
Richard shook his head in amusement. “Mama, talaga.”
Rafi went beside Richard and draped her arm around his shoulders. “Chard, baka naman pwede mo kaming bigyan ng sample ng ginawa mong dance for Maya?” She grinned at Richard while teasingly raising her brows up and down.
“No!” said Richard immediately. “That was intended for Maya only. Eh di dapat nakisali nalang ako sa presentation nila James, Simon, and Jeff.”
“Well I just want to have to a glimpse of it. Am sure kahit sila tita curious about what you really did in front of Maya. Sige na gusto ko lang naman malaman kung papasa ka na,” pleaded Rafi.
“No!” denied Richard vehemently.
“But why? I’m sure Maya wouldn’t mind if you’d share your presentation with us. Di ba Maya?” Rafi turned her look at Maya, trying to make her agree.
“Ha? Eh?” was all Maya managed to say as she scratches her head trying hard to find an excuse. She knew that Rafi was just teasing and making fun of Richard’s discomfort. She would’ve eagerly joined her conquest if not the image of Richard, standing half-naked in front of him while asking her to remove his boxer keeps popping up her mind, rousing the discomfort that she felt at that particular moment inside the Cabana.
Rafi’s speculative eyes did not escape Maya’s unbidden blush that’s about to go full-blown. She noticed how the latter had been fidgeting as well. “You’re blushing Maya! I was just asking kung pwede namang i-share ni Richard yung private presentation na pinakita niya sa’yo.” She then chuckled at what she’s seeing.
Richard noticed the discomfort Maya is having and he’s positive of the reason why. “Rafi, kulitin mo man si Maya, I still wouldn’t share to you what I did for Maya.”
Rafi whined teasingly at Richard’s rejection. “Chard! Ang daya mo! Tayo-tayo lang naman o! Ako, Mama mo, si Tita Tere, si Kute. You don’t have to be shy about it. Promise, hindi ka namin pagtatawanan.”
“No,” he said firmly. “As I’ve told you, it’s for Maya’s eyes only to see.”
Rafi placed her fingers under her chin in an attempt to deduce Richard’s vehement objections. She was still having fun to let the subject matter go that easily. She jumps her glances from Richard to Maya, studying them carefully.
“What? Just give it up Rafi. There’s nothing you can do to convince me.” Richard went to Maya and took her hand. Maya was already about to get up when they heard Rafi.
“OH MY GOD!” exclaimed Rafi. “Chard! Don’t tell me??” Before she could even continue on, she was already consumed by her own uncontrolled laughter.
Everyone around her was confused by her sudden action.
“What is it Rafi?” asked Esmeralda.
Trying to control her outburst, Rafi raised a hand to Esmeralda. “Tita, I think I already know why Richard doesn’t want to share what he did for Maya.”
“What?” replied Esmeralda while Teresita and Kute were all ears. Richard and Maya, on the other hand, were both on the verge of panic at what Rafi could’ve possibly deduced.
“Tita! Chard had gone all the way in front of Maya!” Rafi blurted out then went to another fit of laughter.
“No!/Hindi!” Richard and Maya both denied at the same time, both burning red.
Esmeralda, Teresita, and Kute turned their looks at the two with apparent shock and disbelief on their faces. A beat had passed before they broke out in laughter as well.
“Oh my God son! I can’t believe na magagawa mo ang bagay na yun! Talagang nagawa mong maghubad at iladlad ang lahat lahat sa harap ni Maya?” said Esmeralda.
“Ma! I didn’t do that! Wala akong ginawang ganun!” Richard denied hotly.
Teresita on the other hand just gave Maya a knowing look but Kute couldn’t keep her silence. “So ano bunso? Anong masasabi mo sa nakita mo? Natakot ka ba sa nakita mo?”
“Kute!!” exclaimed Maya. “Wala akong nakita!!”
“Sus! Wala daw! Eh tignan niyo nga ang itsura niyong dalawa ni Richard sa salamin. Para na kayong mga kamatis sa pula!” teased Kute some more.
“Chard, Maya wag na kayong mahiya sa amin. Pwede niyo namang i-share sa amin kung ano talaga nakita ni Maya eh.”
“Rafi!!” reprimanded Richard and Maya at the same time. Richard took Maya’s hand and walked her out of the living room, leaving the rest of their family laughing their hearts out behind.
A week before the wedding, Richard and Maya flew to San Nicholas. They both went to the said province beforehand to relax, stay away from the hustles and bustles of their work and the city life. Also, they’d like to spend more time with Maya’s family.
Five days before the wedding, it was already 9 in the evening and Maya was found sitting on top of the stairs, staring aimlessly outside with a smile spread on her face.
She was in too deep in her thoughts when she felt a pair of arms snake around her waist, pulling her and a chin rested on top of her shoulder. This made her smile more and fill her heart with joy and contentment.
“Hindi ka pa inaantok?” he asked.
“Hindi pa,” she answered.
Richard placed a kiss on her temple. “Bakit parang ang lalim ng iniisip mo?”
Maya sighed dramatically.
Richard instantly looked at her but saw that Maya was aimlessly looking outside. Wanting to meet her gaze, he held her face and turned her to him. “What’s the problem?”
Maya avoided his gaze. “Wala naman.”
Already getting startled by her behavior, he urged her to look at him. “Hey, look at me. Tell me what’s wrong.”
As Maya finally decided to meet his gaze, Maya saw the distressed look on him. She tried so very hard not to laugh at him and maintained to look like something’s troubling her.
“What’s wrong? Come on angel tell me. I can’t stand seeing you like this. Does it have anything to do with us? With our wedding?”
Another deep dramatic sigh escaped her lips.
“Angel..” pleaded Richard.
Maya lowered her head. “Hindi ko na yata kaya. Ayoko na.”
Richard was dumbstruck. Maya spoke softly but he heard the words with perfect clarity. He felt his heart constrict and a lump clogging his throat. “A-angel.. W-why?”
Hearing his broken voice, Maya looked back at him. She noticed how he turned pale and pain is very much evident in his features. Seconds later, his eyes were getting misty. Not able to hold back anymore, she started laughing.
Confused by her sudden change of behavior, he dabbed his eyes and removed any mist that formed. “What? What’s so funny?”
Maya still cannot control herself and continued to laugh her heart out. Richard simply watched her in disbelief. “Ikaw kasi. Nakakatawa ka masyado.” She finally managed to say.
Surprised by what she said, “Me?” he said as he pointed his thumb to himself. “Panong ako?”
Maya tried to regain composure. She held his face with both of her hands. “Ang sarap mo talagang asarin honey.” After blurting out the words, she started laughing once more.
Though initially taken aback by what she said, her words and what they meant eventually sank in. “Ah ganon.” Without warning, Richard started tickling her.
Maya was out of breath laughing at her own prank on him and now, with his non-stop tickling. “Honey! Tama na! Hindi na ako makahinga!”
“Serves you right! Tinakot mo ako! Akala ko kung ano na yung ayaw mo! Eto pang sa’yo!” Richard continued to tickle her unforgivably causing Maya to lie on the floor, rolling from side to side, curling her legs up with Richard’s relentless assault.
“Tama na honey! Hindi na talaga! Hindi na!” shouted Maya all the while laughing her wits out.
Seeing how she turned red, Richard finally stopped. “Tatakutin mo pa ulit ako?” he asked as Maya tries to catch her breath.
Maya tried to look like she was giving it a thought. “Ummmm.. Oo!” She was planning to abruptly get up and run away from him but her position hindered her from doing so. Once again, Richard started attacking her. “Honey! Hindi na talaga! Hindi na talaga!”
“Lagi mo nalang akong niloloko ha! Hindi kita titigilan!”
They continued to laugh until he finally stopped. Catching his breath as well, he helped Maya sit up straight and pulled her close to him, wrapping an arm around her. Maya rested her head on the crook of her neck.
“Ang sama mo honey. Hindi na nga ako makahinga kanina, sige ka parin.”
“Me? Eh ikaw kaya itong magbibigay sa akin ng heart attack kanina!” Richard shakes his head in disbelief.
“Masyado ka kasing seryoso. Ang sarap sarap mong asarin.”
“Aasarin mo pa ulit ako?”
“O honey! Ayan ka na naman. Cease fire muna!” she chuckled. She felt Richard finally relaxing by her side. “Naalala ko lang honey nung nagbakasyon tayo dito sa amin.”
Richard smiled as he remembered everything they’ve done during those times. “Why don’t we do those things again?”
“Sure ka? Hahawak ka ba ulit ng bulate?”
Richard chuckled at Maya’s insinuation. “Marunong na akong humawak ng bulate, thanks to you and Cho. Aside from that, na-miss ko narin magpunta doon sa burol.”
“Let’s do it again. Let’s re-create those memories. Let’s go fishing and let’s go camping.”
Maya faced him. “Are you sure?”
“Positive. So let’s go fishing tomorrow?”
They both stayed there for a while before calling it a night.
The next day, they enthusiastically shared with everyone what they planned for the day and the coming days. Mamang in particular was not all too happy with the idea that they’ll go fishing. She pointed out that their wedding is already at hand and the last thing she wanted for the couple is to get sunburned.
“Mamang! Wag kang mag-alala. Hindi kami magkaka-sunburn ni Richard,” said Maya as she laughs at Mamang’s concern.
“Anong hindi magkaka-sunburn? Hindi naman kayo gabi mangingisda kung hindi sa umaga! At mahirap makipagsapalaran. Kasal na kasal niyo nag-iitiman at sunog ang mga balat niyo?? Ay nako! Hindi ako papayag.”
But the couple was pretty adamant to do what they want. “Ok Mang, ganito nalang po. I promise to bring umbrellas for us para hindi kami maarawan and we’ll put ample amount of sunblock para hindi masunog ang balat namin ni Maya,” assured Richard.
Maya went near Mamang and placed an arm around her shoulders. “Mamang, sige na. Payag ka na. Ayaw mo naman siguro na ma-bore lang kami ni Richard dito sa bahay dahil wala kaming ginagawa. Mas nakaka-stress yun. Saka gaya nga ng sabi ni Richard, sisiguraduhin naming hindi kami magpapa-itim.”
Mamang felt her defeat and heaved out a sigh.”Naku kayong dalawa talaga! Basta pag nakita kong nasunog ang mga balat niyo, makakatikim kayo ng palo sa akin!” warned Mamang, making everyone laugh.
Two days before the wedding, Richard’s family and the rest of their household arrived in San Nicholas. They were fetched by Richard and Maya from the airport and drove them straight to the hotel where they were booked.
As afternoon came, Richard and Maya made their way to the hill where they plan to spend the night. Unlike before, only the two of them will camp there for the night.
Richard set-up the tent and prepared the woods needed for the bonfire. Maya on the other hand, arranged their belongings and the dinner that they brought. Shortly after dinner, they lay hand in hand under the star filled sky.
“So mamamasyal kayo nila Mama bukas? Tamang tama, di ba first time ni Rafi dito? Pwede mo siyang ipasyal sa kung saan saan dito sa lugar namin. Paniguradong matutuwa yun.”
Richard smirked. “Nagpupumilit nga kanina na sasama daw siya ngayon. Ako lang ang nagpumilit na huwag.
“O? Bakit hindi mo pa sinama?”
“Angel, this night is just for the two of us. This is the last night of our engagement that we’ll be together. Kung bakit ba kasi ayaw pa nila na magkita tayo bukas,” whined Richard with a pout.
Maya laughed at his reaction. “Hayaan mo na. Pinayagan naman tayo ni Mamang na mangisda at magpunta dito ngayon kaya siya naman ang pagbigyan natin.”
“But I’ll miss you!”
Maya hit his arm. “Ang OA mo honey ha! Isang araw lang tayong hindi magkikita kung maka-miss ka jan!”
“Palibhasa kasi ikaw, ganun nalang kadali sa’yo ang itapon ako.”
“Aba! At nag-drama pa! Oi Mr. Lim! Hindi bagay sa’yo ang mag-drama!” laughed Maya.
“Talaga lang ha. If I know, yan ang isa sa mga dahilan kung bakit in-love na in-love ka sa akin.”
Maya pinched his side. “Ang kapal!”
Richard caught her hand and lifted it to his lips for a kiss. “I can no longer wait to finally have you mine.”
Maya snuggled beside him and rested her head on top of his chest. “I’m already yours honey.”
“I know,” he smiled. “But I still want to do it legally and I want God to bless our union.”
As the evening progressed, cuddled against one another, they watched the stars that blanketed the sky above, as they wondered all the things their marriage life has to offer for the both of them.