A/N: This is a continuation to The Art of Letting Go – part 41.
When the clock struck eight in the evening, Richard got up to his feet and was immediately handed a microphone from the emcee. He once again expressed his deepest gratitude to their guests, encouraged each and every one to enjoy the rest of the evening, and openly told everyone that he already has to sneak his wife out of the party so he can already have her all to himself. This earned a couple of teasing, cheering, and laughter from their guests. Returning the microphone back to the emcee, he reached out for his wife’s hand as they made their way out of the presidential table.
“Teka honey. Saan ba tayo pupunta?” Maya asked as they start to walk away.
Richard smiled. “You’ll soon find out. Surprise ito nila Papa and Mama for us. A wedding gift.”
Before Richard could answer her back, they already reached the area where the dela Rosas where. Mamang, Teresita, Kute, Jeff, and Cho took turns in greeting and congratulating the couple.
“Mga nak, mag-iingat kayo sa biyahe niyo ha. Enjoy niyo lang yang honeymoon niyo at wag kakalimutang tumawag agad pag nakarating na kayo,” reminded Teresita.
“Oo nga! At wag niyong kakalimutang kumuha ng maraming picture picture ha!” added Mamang.
Richard chuckled. “Don’t worry po Nay, Mamang. Tatawag po kami agad once we reach our destination.”
“At siya nga pala, Richard, bunso. Simple lang naman ang hiling ko sa inyong dalawa,” said Kute, smiling mischievously at the two.
Maya, though still reeling with confusion and anticipation as to where they’re supposed to go, managed to go with the flow and interact with her family. “Ano naman yun Kute.”
“Basta ang akin lang, ang gusto ko, honeymoon baby. Kailangan pagbalik niyo may pamangkin na ako,” grinned Kute.
“Kute!!!” exclaimed Maya as her eyes went wide all the while blushing profusely at her sister’s request.
Richard laughed at his wife’s reaction. He slung his arm around her shoulders and said, “Don’t worry Cristina Rose. Consider it done.”
“Honey!!” glared Maya.
Richard tried to stifle a laugh all the while trying to look nonchalant. “What?”
Before Maya could even argue back, Roberto and Esmeralda went their way and congratulated them as well. Esmeralda hugged them both. “Congratulations to the two of you.”
“Thanks Mama!” said the couple.
“I hope magustuhan niyo ang surprise namin ng Mama niyo sa inyo,” said Roberto.
“I’m pretty sure we will Papa. The effort itself is sobra sobra na. Thank you so much,” said Richard.
“Well, we weren’t able to do this last time and we can’t think of any other better gift that you two could surely use and enjoy. Basta, promise us that pagbalik niyo may apo na kami ha,” said Esmeralda.
Richard laughed once again while Maya felt her cheeks burn.
“Ma, hindi kayo nag-iisa sa request na yan. Kahit si Cristina Rose yan din ang bilin sa amin,” said Richard.
“Oh! Is that so?” replied Esmeralda with keen interest.
“Kaya Richard apo. Sa eroplano palang umpisahan niyo na! Boom boom na agad!!” quipped Mamang.
“Mamang!!” exclaimed Maya. She tried so hard to cover her face as it continuously burn in embarrassment. Seeing her complete discomfort, Richard collected her in his arms and hugged her.
“O sige na mga anak. Mabuti pa ay umalis na kayo at ng hindi na kayo mahuli pa sa flight niyo,” said Teresita.
The couple once again, hugged each member of their family and bid them goodbye as they made their way to the van which will drive them off to the airport.
“Honey, saan nga ba kasi talaga tayo pupunta at gaano tayo katagal doon?”
“It’s a surprise. As to how long, we’ll be gone for about a month.”
“Isang buwan??” asked Maya in complete bewilderment.
“Yes. A month,” replied Richard nonchalantly.
“Eh pero honey. Paano yung work ko, yung company mo? Yung mga gamit ko?” Maya was clearly panicky with the concerns that she has in mind. Richard reached for her hand and squeezed it reassuringly.
“Trust me. Everything’s already taken cared of beforehand. And right now, all you have to do is sit back, relax, and enjoy. Hmm?”
Maya simply nodded her head in return. She then relaxed and rested her head on his shoulder.
A couple of minutes later, they’ve finally reached the airport. Maya once again was surprised as they pulled right onto the tarmac after a brief security check. As they got out of the vehicle, they made their way up the short flight of steps into a private jet. The cabin was luxurious yet understated in its elegance, with sofa seating on the right and table and chairs on the left. The flight attendant was a handsome young guy with black dress slacks and vest embroidered with the Time Airways logo and his name, Eric.
“Good evening, Mr. & Mrs. Lim,” Eric greeted them with a smile. “Would you like something to drink as we prepare for takeoff?”
“Champagne please,” Richard replied, shrugging out of his jacket and handing it over to Eric, who waited while Richard stripped off his vest and tie, too.
Maya simply sat back as she watched him appreciatively.
A gentleman in a navy suit entered the plane. He greeted Richard warmly, shook Maya’s hand when introduced, then requested their passports and visas. He was gone as quickly as he’d come, and the cabin door was closed. Richard and Maya were buckled in at the table with their drinks when the plane started taxiing down the runway.
“Angel, it’ll take us a while before we reach our destination.”
“Mga gaano katagal?”
“More or less thirteen hours.”
“Thirteen hours?!” Maya’s mind went haywire at this realization. Being a professional flight attendant, she does not have any problem being airborne for hours but what bothers her more is the idea that she’ll be airborne for thirteen hours with no one else but her now husband Richard. And in that instant, the constant tease she got earlier from her family and his parents replayed on her mind making her agitated some more.
Richard noticed that Maya had spaced out. “Angel? Are you okay?” Richard reached out and held Maya’s hand.
“Ah, o-oo. Okay lang ako. Pagod lang siguro.”
Richard smiled softly. “Well it’s been a long day.” Richard gestured to the little hallway of doors at the back of the plane, one a lavatory, one an office, and the other a bedroom. “Your things are already in there. If you’d like, you can change to something comfortable and have our rest.”
“Ah mabuti pa nga siguro.”
They waited for the plane to level out and the captain’s brief announcement, freeing them to move about the cabin.
Maya got up, taking her drink with her and went to the bedroom. Her heart thudded as she stepped into the room and saw the queen-sized bed. Tossing back the rest of her drink, she set her empty flute on the nightstand, her hand shaking slightly. She doesn’t know if that was due to fear or excitement.
She trusts Richard completely and she knew that he’ll never do anything to betray that trust. She knows that he’ll never hurt her or force her into something that she’s not sure she’s ready to partake. Then she remembered the number of occasions when Richard reins himself and his desires for her. She remembered how he always wanted to wait and do everything on the right time. “Pero pano kung ma-disappoint siya sa akin? Paano kung hindi ko mabigay kung ano ang gusto niya?” she thought. “Erase! Erase! Erase!! Ano ka ba Maya! Mabait si Richard, gentleman at higit sa lahat mahal na mahal ka niya! Masyado ka lang nag-iisip ng kung anu-ano! Basta magtiwala ka lang sa kanya at sa pagmamahal niya sa’yo okay?” she thought as she scolded herself.
She calmed her nerves down as she felt her pulse thrumming too quickly. She was practically panting, the anticipation painfully acute.
After taking a couple of deep breaths, Maya rummaged through her belongings which are brought for her. She no longer found the need to ask Richard how and who packed her things for her until she saw what’s brought for her. Coldness enveloped her whole being and her breathing became erratic.
“Anong mga ito??” Aside from the casual clothes which she normally wears whenever she goes out, a couple of dress, bikinis are found as well, and when she tried to look for some sleep clothes and undies, she was too shock to find silk knee-length night gowns and silk robe, and a couple of laced chemise instead of her usual PJs. As she continued her search, she also found that her undies were too sexy for her taste as well. She was too caught up at the moment that she could only groan out loud and stomp her foot in frustration. “Sino ba ang nag-impake ng mga gamit na ito?? Ano ba naman ito! Paano ko naman isusuot ang mga ito! Hindi naman ako gumagamit ng mga ito!!”
“Angel are you okay? May problema ba?”
Maya turned around and saw Richard standing at the doorway with a worried look on his face. He was about to move towards her when she held up her hands. “Ok lang ako honey.”
“Are you sure? You don’t really look good. Parang namumutla ka.”
“Ha? Hindi.” Maya touched her face. “Ok lang talaga ako honey. Don’t worry.” Maya gave him a reassuring smile.
Richard moved closer to her and held her face, gazing intently at her eyes. “You really sure?”
Maya chuckled and held his hands. “Yes honey. Siguro pagod lang ito. Kailangan ko lang magpahinga.”
Richard simply nodded his head.
“Ah honey. Sino nga pala ang nag-ayos ng mga gamit ko?” she asked, wanting to know who dared mess up with her.
“Sila Rafi and Emman. Sabi ni Mama nag-presenta daw yung dalawa na sila na ang bahala sa mga gamit mo. Why? May kulang ba? May mga naiwan ka ba?”
“Marami,” she thought. “Ah wala naman honey. Ang galing nga nilang mag-pack eh. Kumpletong kumpleto talaga.” But at the back of her head, “Humanda kayong dalawa sa akin pagbalik ko jan sa Pilipinas! Magtago na kayo!! Aaaargh!!!”
“Good. Mabuti pa, magpalit ka na ng damit mo para makapagpahinga ka narin okay?” smiled Richard.
“Okay honey. Mag-shower lang ako saglit then magpahinga narin ako.”
Richard gave her a peck on her cheek before going back to the cabin.
Maya got herself a towel, her toiletries, and clothes to change into. She then made her way to the en suite lavatory to freshen up. Outfitted with dark wood and chrome fixtures, the lavatory was both masculine and elegant. The toilet had armrests, which made it look like a throne, and a frosted window allowed moonlight into the space. A walk-in shower had a hand wand showerhead.
Once done with the shower, she wore a black nightgown and opted to use the bathrobe to conceal her. She took some deep breaths once again, trying to even out her breathing before making her way back to the bedroom. As she opened the door, she was a bit startled to find Richard there.
“Are you okay?” asked Richard as he tried to stifle a laugh noticing how Maya startled a bit.
“Ah yes. Ok lang naman ako.”
Richard stood up and placed a kiss on her forehead. “Ok. Ako naman ang gagamit ng bathroom to freshen up a bit.” He then went past Maya and proceeded to the lavatory.
As soon as she’s sure that the coast is clear, Maya groaned. “Maya ano ka ba! Kumalma ka nga lang jan!!” She held her cheeks in embarrassment. She sat herself on the raised bed and thought of things she can do for the meantime. A moment later, she yawned. She stood up and removed the bathrobe hanging it on the closet and she laid herself across the bed. Before she knew it, she was already dozed off.
A couple of minutes later, Richard emerged from the door looking fresh and divine wearing a V-neck shirt and a pajama that hangs low on his hips. He shakes his head while a smile spread across his face seeing his wife sleeping peacefully. He took his time taking his fill of her, raking his eyes at her sleeping form. “She must have been really tired,” he thought.
He closed and locked the door behind him before he gingerly climbed up the bed and pulled Maya close to him. As if she sensed him in her sleep, Maya immediately responded to his touch by turning to him and lifting her head to rest it on top of his chest.
Richard forced himself not to move momentarily, trying to feel if he had woken Maya up. A couple of seconds had passed and Maya had been still and her breathing even, giving no sign that she had awaken.
Richard chuckled at what Maya just did. He wrapped both of his arms around her. “Good night angel. I love you,” he mumbled before he followed suit and dozed off to dreamland.
Maya’s senses woke in the familiar warmth and scent of Richard. She opened her eyes and saw how she’s closely snuggled to him, locked into his embrace. She lifted her gaze on to his face and saw that he was still sleeping peacefully. A quick glance at her clock told her that they’d been in the air for almost ten hours. She guessed that she’d slept for a good nine hours.
She turned her gaze back to the face of her sleeping husband, admiring every single detail of his face. Carefully, she moved her arms and lifted her hands to subtly touch his face. She started with his brows, his eyes, his nose, and finally his lips. She was completely lost in her admiration of him when he suddenly spoke.
“Liking every detail so far?”
She was startled by him. She instantly withdrew her hand from her face as she bit her lip. “Kanina ka pa gising?”
Without opening his eyes, “Not really. I just wanted you to have a fill of my angelic face kaya –“
“Ang yabang mo talaga!” said Maya as she pinched his cheek.
Richard laughed and caught her hand. Finally opening his eyes, he gave his wife a quick peck on her lips. “Good morning angel.”
Maya tucked her lips. “Good morning honey,” she mumbled. She then tried to turn around and get out of bed but Richard stopped her, wrapping his arms and legs tighter around her.
“Where are you going?”
“Ahm. Lalabas. Prepare some breakfast. Hindi ka pa ba nagugutom?”
“Nope. I love it here. I love having you snuggled beside me. Are you hungry?”
“Medyo,” she admitted giving him a sly smile.
Richard chuckled. “Fine. Ayoko namang ginugutom ang angel ko. Come on let’s have breakfast first. I think we still have at least three hours before we reach our destination.”
As they both got out of bed, “You really aren’t going to tell me where we’re going ano?” she asked as she slips on her bedroom slippers.
Richard pulled her to him and took her mouth in a sweet, hungry kiss. As he broke off the kiss, they are both panting and gasping for air. He leaned his forehead against hers. “I told you, it’s a surprise by Papa and Mama.”
Maya could only nod her head and smile bashfully in return, not knowing what to say.
“Have I mentioned that you really look good in that nightgown?”
Maya’s cheek immediately burned and in that instant, she raised her hands and tried so hard to cover her face.
Richard chuckled at her reaction and gathered her in his arms in a protective manner. “You are beautiful, Angel. Always remember that.”
As the plane’s door opened, Maya stood by the doorway and looked outside. It was still dark when they landed. Richard wrapped his arms around her waist and rested his chin on her shoulder. “Welcome to Santorini Greece.”
Maya immediately turned around and looked at him in disbelief. “We’re in Greece??”
Richard simply grinned at her and steered her towards the waiting car. “This is where we’ll spend our honeymoon,” he said as they slid inside the vehicle. Richard put an arm around her shoulders, pulling her closer to him.
“Ito ang surprise nila Papa at Mama? Ito ang wedding gift nila sa atin?” Maya was still in complete disbelief about the whole thing.
“Yes angel. Do you like it?”
Maya didn’t know how to answer him. She was completely overwhelmed by everything. “O-oo. Gusto ko siya. Gustong gusto. Isang buwan tayo dito?”
“Well, initial stop natin dito sa Greece. We can tour around then we can go someplace else. We can go to Rome, Spain, Italy. Wherever you can think of,” said Richard.
Richard smiled at her and kissed her temple.
It was still dark when they reached the hotel they were booked in. They proceeded to the reception and when their booking has been confirmed, they were ushered to where their room is. Apparently, Roberto and Esmeralda booked a villa for them with the best view of the Aegean Sea and the Caldera.
As a hotel clerk, ushered them to their villa, he also shared to the couple some facts about their island and what makes it special, the beautiful sceneries and the spots that they should visit until they reached their villa called Air of Mystery Villa.
As Richard continued to talk to the clerk, Maya moved slowly through the massive living area. She also noticed the large panoramic private terrace with open-air dining area. The master bedroom was equally impressive, spacious with a king-sized bed and another open terrace that led directly to a private swimming pool with an infinity edge that made it look like part of the shimmering sea just beyond it.
As she moved to the terrace, a warm breeze blew in, kissing her face and sifting through her hair. The moon cast a trail over the sea. Richard snuck up behind her and snaked his arms around her waist making Maya smile in contentment.
“Ang ganda niya honey. At parang ang payapa at tahimik talaga ng lugar.”
“Mm-hmm. Sabi nung clerk, tahimik at mapayapa nga daw dito. He also told me that we have a beautiful view of the sunrise and the sunset. We’re lucky cause yun agad ang masisilayan natin ngayon.” Richard ushered her towards the daybed where they waited and watched as the sun rise from the horizon.
After they spent the day going out and exploring the beauty that Santorini has to offer, they went back to their hotel shortly after they had their dinner. The unsettling feeling that Maya felt when she boarded the plane and saw the queen-sized bed hit her once again. Being left alone with Richard stirs her discomfort unintentionally. She was trying hard not to fidget especially in front of him.
“Ang ganda nung mga napuntahan natin noh,” she said, trying to relieve the tension building inside of her.
“Indeed. We still have a couple of places to visit that really are breathtaking.”
Richard noticed Maya’s uneasiness and thought of ways to ease her up. “Angel, do you already want to take a shower? Or do you want me to use the bathroom first?”
“Ha? Ah ano? Ano mauna na muna ako. Tama. Mauna na muna akong gumamit ng bathroom.” With that she gathered her things and proceeded to the bathroom. Once inside, she leaned against the door and started scolding herself. “Maya, Maya! Kumalma ka nga! Kalma lang!” She took a few deep breaths to calm her nerves before she headed for the shower.
As she emerged from the bathroom, she was dressed in a red nightgown but once again is covered by a bathrobe. “Ok na ako honey. Pwede ka ng gumamit ng bathroom.” Richard smiled at her and went to the bathroom to have a shower.
As Richard was taking a shower, Maya took the time to send a text message to her Nanay. Left with nothing much to do, she once again went to the terrace and admired the scenery. She was too caught up by nature’s beauty that she didn’t notice that Richard was already finished with his shower. Wearing nothing but a pajama that hung low on his hips, he made his way towards Maya and engulfed her in an embrace. Maya leaned against him, feeling his hard body and inhaling his fresh shower scent.
“You really like the view here don’t you?”
“Ang ganda ganda lang kasi talaga honey. Hindi nakakasawang tignan. Sobrang nakaka-relax lang.”
“Hmm. You’re still not sleepy?”
“Hindi pa naman.” She turned around in his arms and only then did she notice that Richard was not wearing any shirt. “Hindi ka ba giniginaw niyan?” she asked in surprise and not able to look straight at him.
Richard chuckled at her reaction. He pulled her tighter against him letting her lean against his bare chest. “You keep me warm.”
Maya bit her lip not knowing what to say. Though his half-nakedness does a lot of things to her sanity, making her nervous and anticipating both at the same time, she also felt safe and secured in his arms. He never failed to make her feel just that. With her hesitation winding down, she returned the embrace and wrapped her arms around her waist.
“Honey pwede mo ba akong kantahan?”
“What song do you want?” he asked, smiling tenderly.
“Pwede ba yung kantang ginawa mo for me? Yung Angel?”
Without any hesitation, Richard started singing the song that he wrote specifically for his wife, singing it with all his heart. Maya closed her eyes as she listen and feel the weight and meaning of his song. And as the song had come to its last line, Richard gazed at her eyes and uttered the words with much conviction.
Not breaking the contact, his eyes staring fervently at Maya’s, he leans down and kisses her lips gently, and he sucks at her lower lip. Carefully, he tugs at it with his teeth and Maya helplessly let out a moan.
“I love you Angel.”
“I love you too Honey.”
He resumed kissing her. His lips are demanding, firm and slow, molding hers. Almost at tipping point, Richard breaks off and leaned his forehead against hers. “Angel,” he breathes. “Please let me make love to you.”
“Yes,” she whispers, consumed by the love and fueling desire that she feels for him.
As the evening progressed, their need and desire for each other elevated to new heights. Their heart, body and soul syncing in obedience to succumb to their primal desire, giving way to their unity, to the consummation of their marriage.
Note: Some lines from Sylvia Day’s Entwined to You are used in this chapter.