This is a continuation to Truth and Lies – part 23.
“Maya, Happy 5th monthsary.” She read the card that came with the large rectangular box and bouquet of assorted flowers. The gifts came from Richard and were delivered in her office.
Upon entering her room, she immediately opened the box and saw a cocktail dress. It was a stylish fuchsia colored dress that complemented her skin color. As she picked up the dress from the box, a piece of paper fell.
“Babe, please wear this tomorrow night.” It was his handwriting.
She smiled to herself. Unlike the first month when they got together, he was becoming more generous when it comes to giving her gifts. At one point she had to remind him.
“Ricky, ang dami mo naman binibigay sa akin. Remember, when I fell in love with you, ang alam ko ordinary ka lang. So, you don’t have to spend so much on me.”
“Yes, I know. And I remember, I courted you in the simplest way I knew how. And that’s my regret, I wasn’t able to pamper you during that time so I’m trying to make up. Hayaan mo na ako, please.” He revealed to her. Since then, she just accepted whatever he gave. So, the dress that she got from him shouldn’t surprise her anymore. But still, it did.
She immediately called up his mobile phone. Again, he was away on business and was scheduled to arrive Manila the following day. She had gotten used to his trips. She wondered where they were going because he didn’t mention anything about it in their last conversation.
“So, I figured you got my gift?” He asked the moment he picked up the call.
“Yes, Ricky. Thank you. Where are we going tomorrow?” She asked him. “Susunduin kita sa airport di ba?”
“Well, we are going to attend an event in the evening. Wag mo na akong sunduin kasi nag pa arrange na lang ako ng airport pick-up. Then, ako na lang ang susundo sa’yo sa bahay mo.” He replied.
“Hmm, okay. Sa bahay na lang tayo magkita. Anyway, kumain ka na?” It was lunch time so she asked.
“Not yet but we are on our way out. I have the group with me and we are just waiting for our car.” Then, someone must have spoken to him because he excused himself. “Babe, sandali lang ha, may tawag daw sa kabilang phone.”
He may have thought he had placed his phone on mute or hold mode but in reality, he didn’t. She overheard him say the name Michelle and sounded that he was eager to receive a call from her. She heard him mumble some words. He was on the other phone for more than 5 minutes that Maya began to think he had completely forgotten her.
“Richard.” She uttered just to check if he could still hear her.
“Chelle? babe?” He responded sounding confused.
“Ano ‘ka mo Ricky?” She asked. It was the first time he referred to her by another name. She had met Michelle in the past and somehow the mix up didn’t sit well with her.
“Eh, sorry, Maya. I’m getting confused here. May mga tao kasi dito sa harap ko trying to rush me and then I have you on a call. Anyway, babe, pwede later na lang ako mag-explain? I need to go.” Maya didn’t have any choice but let him go.
As she placed down the receiver, she made a resolution that she will check what kind of business Richard has with Michelle but for meantime, she would like to appreciate her new dress first.
Maya was looking at herself in the full body mirror in her bedroom. She liked how Richard’s gift to her fit her slim body. She then checked her make-up. She had put a light make up on, since Richard preferred her with little or without one.
A few minutes later, she heard her main door’s bell rang. She took a one last look at herself before she got out of her room to open it.
When Maya opened the door, she saw Richard’s eyes widen. Then, a big smile of approval emerged from his lips. He stood by the door as if mermerized by her beauty. He was in an all black semi-casual ensemble.
“Ricky, please come in.” She opened the door wider and smiled at him.
“Hi Babe.” He handed her a box of swiss chocolates. He looked at her appreciatively. “You’re beautiful, as always, Maya.”
She chuckled while he gave her a quizzical stare. “Akala ko, kisses chocolates uli, pasalubong mo.” She couldn’t help but giggle remembering his last trip to Germany and gave her kisses chocolates as gift when he returned. He followed her train of thought and so he chuckled too.
He then closed the distance between them and placed his arms around her waist.
“Well, this is still part of my monthsary gift to you. As for the days I was away, I prefer deliver the real ones.” He swooped down to claim her lips.
The kiss started as a light one. Then, he deepened it as he took control of her lips. But, Maya’s mind was in the event they were attending and so when he paused to breathe, she reminded him. “Ricky, may appointment tayo, di ba?”
“Yes” He answered. “But before that, could you please give me a proper response? I just got back and I missed you.” He said as his gazed at her lovingly.
She gave in to his request and reached up to his nape to pull his face towards her.
She kissed him in the way he liked it. She knew he appreciated her effort as she felt his heartbeats race fast. .
“Ricky” She moaned. Her hold on his neck became tighter as if not wanting to let his mouth go.
Then, there was a beeping sound coming from his telephone on his jacket. It sounded like an alarm. Richard paused to allow both of them to catch their breath.
Richard’s eyes were burning with desire that he was trying to control. “Babe, I’m very tempted to skip the event tonight but it is necessary we go there. So, we are now leaving, is it okay with you?” He cupped her face.
Her cheeks were still flushed by their kissing as she responded. “Yeah, Ricky.”
She hugged him once more just to calm her own desires.
In the car, Richard told her that they were going to Pasay for the event they were attending. He said it was an art exhibition. It was the first time she would go in such an affair as she wasn’t into arts. The only art piece that she had was the one in her office, which was a gift from her friend Ethan.
When they parked the car in front of the gallery, Maya was feeling excited while Richard seemed to have turned serious. He looked uneasy as he took a deep breath before taking her hand to enter the venue.
They came into the building with their hands together, their fingers intertwined.
As they entered the place, people who were already there started to approach Richard. She realized he knew a lot of people in that place. A lot of them were of Chinese descent.
As they greeted him, they also looked at her appreciatively. Their expressions hinted a sign of interest on her. He introduced her to the people who came up to him. In many of his conversation, they spoke in bilingual language, English and Chinese. She also saw some familiar faces from his office. As he got stuck in conversation with some other guests, Maya simply went on her way to see the displayed paintings on the wall. There was a roving waiter that offered some drinks and she took one.
A few minutes later, she felt his an arm on her shoulder. He finally rejoined her.
By then, she had finished a glass of red wine.
“Babe, careful with the drinks. You don’t want to get drunk again, right?” He warned her.
“Hmm, why not? And’yan ka naman.” She responded as she touched his face with one hand and caressed him.
“Maya, the night is still early. I don’t want you getting dizzy.” He explained.
“Anyway, let’s look at the pieces.” He guided their walk.
The art pieces mostly were landscapes depicting the beauty of nature such as rice fields, trees, and seasons of the year in geometric forms. He didn’t say much as they viewed each item. She noticed that some pieces already had a tag “sold or reserved.”
She commented. “Hmm, opening night pa lang ‘to, sold or reserved na?”
He smiled. “Yeah. Siguro maraming kaibigan ang painter.” He stifled a chuckle as if a loud voice can break the formal ambiance of the place.
“So what do you think of the paintings?” He asked.
“Magaganda” She immediately replied. “I’m not into the arts but these ones I can appreciate. There’s something in there that speaks to my heart.” She added.
“Hmm, perhaps you know the painter?” He had a genuine smile that reached his eyes.
“Eh, wala akong kilalang painter. Baka ikaw, kasi you’re into paintings.” She replied as they slowly continued walking the gallery until they reached the middle section.
The rest of guests were busy looking around. Some of them talked to Richard about the pieces and he responded as if he knew each one of them. Maya stared at him in amusement. She had not seen this side of him before, the one that was into arts.
Then, she heard one old Chinese lady speak as she stared at Maya and then turn to
Richard. “Li Cha, she’s the exclusive piece, right?”
“Dui, A yi.” He responded and introduced Maya. “Babe, this is Aunt Charrie, a cousin of mom. Ayi, Maya is my girlfriend.”
Maya quickly took the hand of the older woman and placed it her forehead for the customary greeting. “Good evening A yi.”
“Good evening too. You are lovely in painting but lovelier in person.” She commented. Maya forehed had creases as she tried to understand what his aunt said. She assumed that his aunt must have confused her with someone or something else so she just dismissed the thought eventually.
Richard and Maya were still with his aunt when the lights in the art gallery started to dim. Then, a classical music was played a bit louder and the area where a mini stage was set-up became the center of their attention.
Then, she saw a familiar face come up to the stage. It was Michelle the colleague of Richard. Her heart constricted in reaction. She assumed that they were there because of Michelle especially when she saw her look at their direction and smiled at Richard. Somehow that pangs of jealousy that she hasn’t overcome yet was biting her heart again. His aunt told them to move closer stage which they did.
Michelle started to speak on the microphone. “Good evening everyone.” She paused
to look at all the people gathered around the mini-stage. “Thank you all for coming. Today, marks a significant event as a first solo art exhibition of an artist who is known for his contemporary geometric and bold techniques. He only produces few pieces in a year and so your attendance here on this by invitation only opening night, speaks of your interest to meet our artist. So, without much further ado, I’d like to introduce to you the man of the hour, Richard Lim or otherwise known in the art world by his Chinese name Li Cha.”
The sound of applause was deafening that Maya didn’t hear what Richard whispered to her before he left her to go to the stage. He left her looking dumbfounded.
As she watched his back, she felt like she was going to faint. Her heart was beating so fast that she thought it would burst out of her chest. She was completely shocked to find out that he is not an art enthusiast but in fact an artist himself. How could she have missed it? They’ve been together for 5 months. She tried to recollect any scene or instances that could have given away that information but she couldn’t really remember.
Then, she felt somebody touch her back. It was Lin and she was smiling at her.
“Looks like you are surprised.” Lin whispered.
“Yes, I am very surprised.” Maya responded with her rounded eyes. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Well, I thought you knew. And, I didn’t realize he would actually agree on an exhibition. As far as I know he only paints for his own appreciation and gifts to very close friends.” Lin responded in a low voice.
Their conversation was cut as Richard started to speak on the phone. It took him a while to get to the stage as someone spoke to him on his way there. He then took the microphone from Michelle.
“Thank you Michelle. Good evening.” He started as he looked around at the audience. Then, he flashed his famous lopsided smile. He looked at her first before he addressed the guests.
“First, thank you very much for coming over to this exhibition. This event was put together with short preparation. I never imagined that I would be in this stage to present to you my work. Before I forget, let me thank those who have reserved and paid for the pieces they liked. I didn’t realize I could make money out my hobby.” He paused again as people laughed at his statement. He also laughed at what he said.
“Anyway, over the last 5 years, I have been dabbling in the visual arts as a form of hobby. Then, I started sharing my work with close friends and that has started everything for me. Thank you for the appreciation of my works. This evening is very special to me not only as Li Cha, the businessman, the painter but also as a man. Please indulge me if I am going to be a bit personal tonight. I just wish to share to the world my happiness and inner desires. I wish to offer this evening to someone very very special.” Richard paused and looked at the spot where Maya was standing. He smiled at her. She half smiled in return; still dazed with the event unfolding in her eyes.
“In the past few months, I have been very inspired and I believed most of you have seen the result of that inspiration; an art piece that I dearly love. The greater part of that inspiration is for me to come out in this show. She is the highlight of this exhibition and the light of my life. I’d like to introduce to all of you, Ms. Maya dela Rosa.” He stopped as the lights focused on Maya. Richard approached her and took her hand to bring her to the stage.
Maya nervously smiled; her hands were very cold. She didn’t expect him to introduce her like that and declare his feelings for her publicly. The crowd clapped as they got a better view of her when she stood beside him at the mini-stage. She was still recovering from her shock earlier and then he staged a new one.
Richard spoke again on the microphone as they stood side by side in front of the audience. “Ladies and gentlemen, again please indulge me. I really have to do this tonight.” He then placed the microphone on the podium. When returned to face her again, he looked at her intently as if waiting for a cue, an encouragement. Then, he knelt on one knee in front of her. The crowd watched in awe.
When Maya realized what was happening, her face reddened with mixed expression of anticipation, fear and excitement in it. She didn’t know what to do but she was teary eyed.
“Maya, from the day I set my eyes on you, I have fallen in love with you. Each day with you the last few months have been meaningful. You made my days bright and full of life. I can’t imagine a day without you.” He slowly took out something from his breast pocket and when he revealed it, a huge heart shaped diamond sparkled in front of her.
His eyes were on hers; they were misty too. “Babe, pinakilala ko na sa’yo kung sino at ano ako. This is all me and the time has come for me to ask you. Would you be willing to be my wife? Will you please marry me?”
After he finished his declaration, Maya felt like there was big lump on her throat as words wouldn’t come out of her mouth. The surrounding was spinning and she can’t see people anymore. The tears that were welling up on her eyes earlier have streamed down her face uncontrollably. She was ecstatic. She had been waiting for this moment. She nodded repeatedly and the words finally came out “Yes, Yes, Ricky.”
Richard immediately stood up and hugged her. She also embraced him tightly. He slid the ring on her ring finger and sealed it with a kiss. He gave her a light kiss on the lips.
The guests clapped their hands and cheers of congratulations flew in the air. At that moment, the two were the happiest people on earth.