This is a continuation to Truth and Lies – part 24
Maya was staring in awe at the life size painting of herself and felt her face becoming warm again. She was literally the center of attraction that evening. After they received a lot of congratulatory remarks for their engagement, many comments followed about his works especially his centerpiece.
Maya was painted in watercolor in a reclined position as if she was floating in the air. Her hair with almost reddish brown was flowing on the canvass. Diagonally draped over her body was a white cloth that hid her chest and one of her legs but her shapely figure was evident despite the cover. Bold lines a distinct style of Li Cha as she heard earlier emphasized her strong features, like her eyes and her leg as one of them was exposed. She had a perfect, beautiful face that looked innocent and ethereal. The painting was entitled. “Love of my life”, with a tag. “Painter’s personal property.”
She turned to Richard who was grinning beside her. He was gazing proudly at his masterpiece.
“Ricky, kanina ka pa nakangisi d’yan. Baka mahipan ka ng hangin.” She commented as she slid her arm around his waist.
“I’m just so happy, Maya.” He also placed an arm on her shoulder and kissed her hair. “Finally, we’re engaged.” He looked into her eyes and captured her lips with his.
It’s been thirty minutes since the gallery closed. The two of them were left behind with the janitorial and catering services doing their own cleaning up.
“Paano mo ‘yan na paint when I never posed for you. Saka, kelan? Paano eh lagi naman tayong magkasama or lagi kang nasa travel.” She finally asked the questions in her mind.
“It’s from memory. That painting was almost completed within one week after we met in Baguio, Maya. I had to paint your image as I thought I was going crazy that time especially after we kissed inside my truck.” He revealed to her that made her heart jumped with giddiness.
“Hmm, pero paano? I mean the scenario and all…” She wanted clarity.
“If you remember, you slept in my place when you got drank in Baguio. That’s how I remembered your body and your face. I just did some refinements after I got to know you better. Whenever I look at it, it still feels like an unfinished piece. But they said, common daw yun for some painters. Anyway, I guess I have to do another painting of you.” His hand started to caress her back.
She smiled at him as she gave him a peck on the cheek. “Thank you.” Then, she turned to another portrait. “Hmm, Ricky, this other one. Ito lang din ang babaeng painting dito. Who is this? Don’t tell me ex-girlfriend mo?” She questioned him.
“Ha,ha,ha. She is not my ex-girlfriend. Girlfriend ko pa rin ‘yan.” He teased her. She saw in his eyes a glint of fondness towards the woman in the painting.
“Ano?” She pretended to glare at him. He just proposed to her a few hours ago and now he was teasing her again about another girlfriend.
“Ikaw talaga medyo may pagka selosa. Tingnan mong mabuti yang babae na ‘yan. Can’t you recognize her? Just add some pounds and who do you think she looks like?” He encouraged her to study the painting closer.
“Oh my gee, this is your mom!” She realized that it was younger Esmeralda Lim that was in the painting and then another realization came to her. “Oh god, yung painting sa office ko, it is her! Ricky, paano napunta yun sa gallery, I thought for personal lang… at saka , paano…?” Her brows furrowed as she Richard the questions.
“Well, Michelle once took some of my paintings and had them displayed in the art gallery at Shangrila. I didn’t know that one of the paintings she got was that one of my mom. When we realized it was missing, you already bought it. I asked the gallery to repurchase it, but later on they came back saying the buyer wouldn’t resell. Then, I saw it in your office.” He disclosed further.
“It’s one of the first paintings I did. My mom used to tell me about how she first came to China to live with dad. It is how I imagined her in those stories. Look at this painting and the one in your office, parehong buntis. Ako ang nasa loob niyan. So important sa akin, sa amin yung paintings na ‘yon.” He further explained.
“Owws, ang sweet mo naman sa mom mo. So, Ricky, later you will paint me like that…hmm… after our wedding?” She asked him. She was slightly embarrassed with her question. She didn’t want to appear so excited to get married and all.
“Ah!! great idea, Babe. Pero, bago mag painting, kailangan i set muna natin ang scene and the model.” He other arm started to encircle her body such that Maya was already enveloped in his arms.
Then, Richard lowered his head and kissed her. She kissed him back.
“Ricky” She said in a low voice as she stopped kissing him. “Umuwi na tayo, it’s already midnight.”
They were on his car on the way to Maya’s condo unit when she realized they needed to let their parents know about their engagement. She got worried over his parents reaction.
“Ricky, alam na ba sa family mo that you planned on proposing? Paano kung mag-insist na naman ang dad mo that you marry only a chinese descent?” She sounded so concerned.
He took her hand and pressed it. “Don’t worry about that. Si Dad lang ang problem. In case he insists, he still can’t make me marry against my will. Hindi na ako bata. I can stand on my own, Babe. Pero, on your side, what do you think? Will your parents approve?”
She smiled. “Di ba kasundo mo si Papa. So, wala tayong problema sa side ko.” She assured him.
Richard became quiet as if thinking. He was in that mode until they reached her condo building. Then, he asked out of the blue, “Babe, let’s go to Sagada? Mag bakasyon tayo ng several days?”
“Ha? Naku, Richard parang biglaan naman. Paano yung opisina natin. Ano ‘to spur of the moment?” She hesitated.
“I just want to spend time with you alone; just the two of us together. We’ve never had a chance to be alone without someone disturbing us. We just got engaged and I think we should celebrate.” He tried to convince her. He had the excited and hopeful expression that knocked Maya’s heart.
Without much thinking, she agreed. “Sige na nga.”
They’ve arrived at his Sagada rest house at almost 3 p.m. from Baguio the following day.
As soon as they reached Maya’s condo the previous night, she just packed some clothes for their impromptu vacation. Richard drove from Manila all night until they reached Tiger Motors in Baguio. They had a quick breakfast at the nearby eatery and they then went straight to Sagada. He asked one of his employees to drive for them using his big RAM truck.
For most of the trip, Richard slept. He took the opportunity rest after the previous night’s long drive and the excitement his exhibit’s opening night. Maya, who had some hours sleep earlier, excitedly looked at the Mountain Province mountain ranges as they traversed the narrow, winding road to Sagada. The view was breath taking but also nerve racking for her. At some point, she was afraid that they may fall off the cliff as there were sharp turns along the way. After a few hours of viewing, she yawned and finally dozed off. She cuddled with him with her head rested on his chest while both his arms were around her.
The two woke up when the engine of his truck went silent indicating that it has stopped. When Richard opened his eyes, he saw the familiar entrance to his rest house. He woke up Maya.
As they got out of the car, Manang Fe who seemed surprised by their arrival met them.
“Ricardo, anak, bakit hindi ka nag-abiso na mas maaga na darating ka?” She asked but her eyes were directed at Maya.
“Biglaan po, Manang Fe. Ahh, Manang, you remember Maya, right?” Richard took Maya’s hand in front of the older woman.
“Ahh, Oo. Siya yung nasa bahay mo sa Baguio. Siya yung…” Manang was cut-off by Richard.
“Siya yong fiancée ko Manang. I am marrying her.” He declared. There was a surprised expression on the elder lady’s face upon hearing his announcement but it was quickly replaced with happiness.
“Hayy, salamat naman at mag-aasawa ka na, Ricardo. Congratulations mga anak.” She hugged Richard first and then Maya. “Naku, ikaw lang pala ang makakahuli sa aming binata.”
“Manang…” Richard warned Manang Fe as if telling her not to put ideas in Maya’s head. Unfortunately for him, Maya understood what Manang Fe meant.
“Thank you po Manang. Opo, nahuli na po at wala ng kawala ito. Para po yatang marami ‘tong tinakbuhan dati.” She pinched Richard’s side lightly as she responded to Manang Fe. She looked at him with thin eyes and sour smile.
“Aray, ayan Manang kasi.” Richard complained as he tried to embrace Maya.
“Ay naku, ang sweet n’yo. Naalala ko tuloy si Anastacio noong kabataan ko. O hala, magsipanhik na kayo sa taas at makapag-ayos muna. Maghahanda lang ako ng makakain. Buti na lang may stock tayo sa ref at nakapag luto kaagad ako kanina ng tumawag ‘yang driver mo.” Manang Fe quickly left them to prepare her dishes.
Richard took Maya’s bag from the back of the truck and assisted Maya in getting inside the house. It was two-story log cabin type of residence with a verandah on all sides at the second floor. When they entered the place, it had the warm ambiance of a home. The scent of pine pervaded the house and she loved it. They had a fireplace and had furniture indigenous to the region. But it wasn’t also lacking of the latest appliances.
“Wow.” She uttered as she appreciated the place.
“Glad that you like this place.” He smiled at her. “Babe, I’ll put your bag in the room upstairs okay?” Richard told her while she walked around the living room checking the native items on display.
She noted a lot of paintings on the walls. Those were definitely Richard’s works. It dawned on her that this was the place where he did most of his paintings.
Then, Manang Fe called her. “Maya, hija, halika dito sa kusina at magkwentuhan tayo.” Maya acceded to her gentle request.
“Ricky, ang ganda talaga ng bahay mo!” She uttered as they finished touring the 1st level of his house and grounds. They went outside after finishing their merienda cena prepared by Manang Fe. She wanted to look around and see the whole property.
“Maya, this is going to be our place. Remember, we are getting married. What I have will all be yours too. ” He reminded her. “Let’s go up, you haven’t seen the second floor yet.” He invited her.
There were three rooms at the second level. He showed her two identical rooms and said. “These are the guest rooms. Everything in this room is same even the bathroom fixtures”
“Very nice. So, I don’t have to think hard where I would stay because they are the same.” She commented as she stepped inside the room. However, she only managed two steps before Richard grabbed her arm.
“Babe, what makes you think you are staying here?” He had creases on his forehead and his eyes were rounded. It seem liked the idea was unthinkable for him.
“Huh? Di ba ako dito mag-stay?” She asked innocently.
“Of course not. We have our room ready for us.” He quickly scooped her in his arms and went out of the guest room. She didn’t protest to being on his arms, as it felt good to be there. He took only several steps before he opened another door. Soon after they entered, he placed her down on her feet.
“This is our room, Maya.” He announced with a wide smile on his face. His room was quite opposite to his Shanghai bedroom. This is more modest but felt more homely for her.
“Your things have been unpacked here by Manang Fe.” He opened a closet for her to see that her things were really there.
She blushed at the assumption that was made. She had never slept with any man before and somehow she was nervous about it. The idea had crossed her mind several times before and she had almost done it with him but this open discussion of their sleeping arrangement was still embarrassing to her. She even thought, why did he have to talk about it and not just go with the flow and let things happen naturally?
Richard approached her after noticing she was blushing. “Hmm, sorry, Maya. Do you want to stay in the guest room?” He placed his thumb and index finger under her chin and tilted it upwards so he could look straight into her eyes. He recognized the nervous emotions displayed in her eyes.
“Don’t worry, babe. I will not pounce on you.” He chuckled as he tried to lighten up the mood. That statement produced the desired effect. She smiled and gently rubbed his face with her palm.
“Ikaw talaga.” Then, she distanced herself from him and went to closet. “I will need to take a bath now Ricky. Kagabi pa ako huling naligo.” She declared.
“Okay, babe. I’ll turn the hot water for tub that is if you want to use it.” He went inside the bathroom ahead of her.
Seconds later, she followed him to where the bathroom was. They met at the door and slightly bumped each other. Their eyes met and locked for a while as if something hit them while the running water provided the background sound. It was an awkward moment for them. Then he spoke, “Go ahead Maya. Your water should be ready now.”
“Thanks Ricky.” She uttered and quickly closed the door as soon as he moved out of the way.
When she turned around to examine the bathroom, she found out that even her personal toiletries have been laid out there. Then, she noticed that the bath tub had red rose petals floating in it. There was a note on the side. “Enjoy and relax. Looking forward to later…Ricky.”
Her heart thumped loudly. Again, it was one of his ways to tell her how much he loves her. She thought how fortunate she was to meet such a man; he was a rare find. The flowers must have come from the garden at the front yard.
After more than an hour in the bathroom, Maya felt relaxed. She enjoyed soaking herself in the bathtub that she didn’t realize she dozed off. She only woke up when she felt the water was cold. She immediately rinsed off.
Richard wasn’t in the room when she came out but the slightly ajar door leading to the verandah caught her attention. She went out to the verandah to check if he was there but he wasn’t.
She was wearing a pair of thick long sleeves shirt and jogging pants but she still felt the cold temperature of Sagada. The temperature had started to go down to prepare for a chilly night. Maya saw the sunrays loosing its bright lights as the dusking sky was slowly taking over.
She then felt an arm encircle her waist as Richard hugged her from behind. “I thought you’re not coming out of the bathroom anymore.” He whispered in her ear. His warmly breathe on her neck.
She turned to face him and found that he had also showered and changed his clothes. He too was in a jogging pants and white shirt that fitted his body. She found him quite sexy with the wide expanse of his chest and biceps emphasized by his shirt.
“I relaxed as you suggested and I dozed off.” She responded to him as she placed her hands on his chest. His face was already close to her and they were centimeters apart. She could hear his heart pounding loudly.
“Maya, I love you. Thanks for agreeing to be my wife.” His eyes on her shifted to her hand that was on his chest. He took it and kissed the finger where she had her engagement ring on.
She touched his face with her other free hand. “I’ve been waiting for it.” She admitted to him. Her love for him was undeniable as she felt her own heartbeats racing.
They gazed at each other for a while; their eyes spoke of the love they felt for each other. Then, slowly, Richard took the hand on his face and planted a kiss on her palm. It was such a sweet kiss. It was light and feathery warm.
Then slowly, his kiss became different. He kissed her palm with open mouth such that she felt his tongue on the center of her palm and felt it moving to her wrist. It felt so sensual that it sent volts of electricity run thru her body.
She tried to pull away from him but Richard clasped her hand as he guided her to wrap it around him. His other hand pulled her close to him so that she could feel each muscle of his body. The warmth emanating from his body was in stark contrast to the cold breeze at the verandah.
“I love you. I’ve wanted you for a long time.” He whispered in her ear before his lips traced the line of her jaw. His hands moved up and down to the side of her body. He was evoking sensations that he could only awaken in her. Slowly, she was melting in his arms. Her hands started to caress his back. His lips were fiery hot on her neck.
When, he reclaimed her lips, she was ready to receive him. His tongue explored her mouth deeply and when it met her tongue, they danced wildly. They kissed so passionately and wantonly with their eyes closed. It was as if it they’ve long for each other for a long time.
“Babe…I love you.” Maya uttered when he released her lips to move downwards. She arched her neck to give him more access. Maya was fully aware that she giving in to him that night. She wanted him as much as he wanted her.
He gasped when he heard her. “Damn, Maya. It’s the first time you called me, Babe.” He groaned. He scooped her in his arms and carried her inside his room. He didn’t even bother closing the door as he quickly laid her on the bed and joined her.
Later that night, they slept in each other’s arms with smiles of contentment on their face.