This is a continuation to Heart’s True Desire – part 1
She pressed her hands against his chest to push him away. “Richard, stop! This game is over.”
Instead, Richard pulled her closer. “Give me a reason why I should stop, Maya.” He whispered; his heart thumping loudly.
“Because what you want is a deal breaker.” She walked out in temper.
Richard remained standing at the dance floor while watching her leave. A part of him wanted to run after her and another part told him she was right. They have an agreement. Their presence in each other lives is temporary and they shouldn’t complicate it with any physical or emotional attachments. However, their relationship has always been complicated from the start and the sooner they fix it, the better for everyone else who are part of their lives.
Maya rejoined her friends in their table. As soon as she sat on the couch, Emman handed her capelet.
“Maya, girl…baka lamigin ka.” There was a note of concern from her friend. “Oh oh, why do you look upset? Kanina lang ang saya-saya mo sa dance floor.” He asked. He spoke in a loud voice, afraid that with the music at the background, Maya wouldn’t hear him.
“Well, of all places, Emman, I saw him here.” Maya responded. Emman got curious so he exchanged seats with the girl beside him so that he could sit beside Maya.
“Him? Who? Are we talking about James?” Emma asked while his eyes wandered around. By the time he realized who Maya was referring to, Richard was already in front of their table.
Richard sat on the empty space beside Maya. He quickly noticed that Maya ignored him and she moved closer to Emman who was on her right.
“Hello, ladies.” He smiled at her friends. Aside from Emman, she was with four other women. Then, he turned to Emman. “Hi Emman, kumusta na?”
Emman, having a crush on Richard, beamed upon his greeting. “Hi Ricky. I’m good. So, andito ka rin pala. Sinundan mo ba si Maya dito? Okay lang kami, don’t worry, I’ll take care of her.” He assured him.
Richard grinned. “I’m sure you would, Emman. It just so happened that I am here too. Anyway, I’m about to leave and I wondered if Maya is ready to leave with me.” He then glanced at Maya. She didn’t even glance or tried to acknowledge him until that point.
Maya gave him a cold stare after hearing his query. “I’m not leaving yet. It’s still early. Si Emman na lang ang maghahatid sa akin.” She sipped her orange juice.
“Are you sure, you wouldn’t want to leave with me?” Richard asked again.
“Yes, I am very sure Richard.” She said with conviction.
Emman and Maya have been friends since college days and so he could read her like a book. Sensing that two were about to have an argument, he excused himself and danced with their other friends. Before leaving, he whispered to Maya. “Girl, easy lang, ha.”
Alone in the couch, Richard inched himself closer to Maya. “Why wouldn’t you want to leave with me? Are you afraid of what might happen?” He gave her a nudge; he was flirting with her again.
“Richard, don’t get ahead of yourself. Not all women want to sleep with you.” She hissed back while calming herself. Both of them were oblivious of the people passing by their table.
“Ahh, so you want to emphasize that you are not one of them? But I think, otherwise, Maya.” Richard fingers crawled at the small of her back and that startled her. It caused her body to jolt.
“Richard, can you please keep your hands to yourself. Nakakarami ka na, ha.” She warned him.
He raised his hands up but still had devilish grin on his face. “Alright, I’ll stop. Honey, come on. Let’s go home. I don’t want to leave you here.” He used his sexy drawl.
“Richard, I can go home by myself. I have my friends with me. We are still enjoying.” She gave him a stern look, signifying she had made up her decision.
He wasn’t happy with her response evidenced by his brows furrowed and thinned lips. He felt reject at that moment. Also, he suspected there was another reason for her wanting to stay longer. “Is it James? Are you expecting him to join you here?”
Maya didn’t respond. He was making an assumption that was far from truth but that night, she didn’t want to explain. Things were already muddled between the three of them.
“What? Is he coming over or not?” He asked again, sounding impatient.
“Yes! He should be here anytime soon.” She retorted. She just fed his wrong assumption but she didn’t care.
“So talagang you still keep in touch with him. Maya, nakakaselos na ‘yan.” Richard’s face turned emotionless. His words and facial expression were contradictory as he tried to mask his true emotions.
Maya studied his face and couldn’t decipher whether he was really upset or not. It wasn’t the first time that she couldn’t read him. Maya was about to say something when a woman standing in front of their table distracted them both.
“Richard!! You are here. I thought you’ve left the club.” It was Stephanie, his date that he left earlier. Suddenly, he found an excuse to save his face from Maya’s rejection.
“Ahh, yeah Steph, I was about to go.” He responded, as he got up from the couch.
“Babe, aren’t you going to introduce me to your friend?” Stephanie clung to his arm when he finally stood beside her.
Maya eyed him carefully. Richard seemed hesitant to introduce them so she did a self-introduction.
“Hi, I’m Maya Dela Rosa.” She gave a half smile at the other woman. She noticed he glowered but she ignored him.
“I’m Stephanie. I’m his girlfriend.” Stephanie wrapped her arm around Richard’s body emphasizing that she owned him.
Maya just looked at them nonchalantly giving an impression that she didn’t care. Then, she spoke. “Good to meet you.”
It didn’t surprise her that Stephanie introduced herself as his girlfriend. Unfortunately, she knew that Stephanie wasn’t the only one in town who claims that title.
“Okay, ladies enough of the introduction. Let’s go Steph.” Richard declared with impatience in his tone.
As Maya watched Richard and Stephanie leave the club, it was then the gnawing feeling of hurt slowly crept in her chest. This is precisely the reason she can’t get attached to him. With Richard, nothing seemed to be real. She was still in reflective mood when Emman returned to her side.
“So, anong nangyari, asan na si Richard?” Emman’s head turned left and right in search of Richard.
“Wala na. He left with Stephanie, girlfriend daw niya.” Maya responded as she took another sip of her juice.
“Ano? You allowed him to leave with another girl? Maya, ano na ba talaga kayo? Are you married to each other or not?” Emman uttered in disbelief on their arrangement. He was fully aware of the circumstances of their marriage but he had never been privy to the other details.
“Emman, kasal kami… you were a witness remember? But right now, hindi ko alam kung nasaan kami. Ang gulo kasi!!” She uttered in dismay.
“Maya, if you would only be more honest with each other, I think your issues can be settled.” Emman gave his advise to his best friend.
“I don’t know Emman… what’s there to be honest about. Ever since I met him again…” She trailed off and didn’t finish her sentence. “Anyway, let’s leave this place. Mag coffee na lang tayo somewhere.” She requested her friend.
Flashback – 4 months ago
Maya got out of her car appearing to be in a frantic mode. She hurriedly gave her car key to the valet driver waiting at the main entrance of the EDSA-Shangrila hotel. She decided to avail of the hotel’s service since she knew that if she would park the car herself, it would mean additional minutes of delay. She was over two hours late for her 6:00 p.m. family dinner appointment and her grandmother, Mamang, was already upset when she spoke to her thirty minutes ago. She demanded that Maya appeared in the venue, otherwise, she ran the risk of being disowned by her family. So, left with no other choice, Maya drove to Ortigas area.
Actually, Maya didn’t plan on joining her family after she got wind of the real reason of their dinner. She was going to be introduced to her potential husband; her family entered into an arrange marriage for her in order to save their family business. She was against the plan. She wanted time to think things through and to devise an escape plan. However, her family was railroading her to meeting her potential husband and his family.
As soon as she entered the Japanese restaurant at the 2nd floor of the hotel, Maya saw her grandmother waving at her. She walked towards them with a heavy heart.
“Good evening, everyone.” She greeted the people on the table. She scanned their faces and didn’t recognize the two other individuals on the table. “It must be them.” She thought. Then, she felt a sense of panic with the thought that her potential husband would be the old grandfather looking Chinese man sitting opposite her grandmother. Her father didn’t tell her in detail with whom she was being paired with. He wanted her to meet him and judge for herself. She turned pale with just the idea.
“Maya, umupo ka na diyan.” Mamang instructed her to take a vacant chair beside her father, Arturo who was at the end of the table set for eight diners. In front of her was an empty chair. Then, she was introduced to the two people sitting diagonally from her. “Maya, sila si Mrs. Esmeralda Lim at ang Papa niya si Don Liwen Lim.”
Being polite, she smiled at the two as she extended her hand to them. “Good evening po.”
It was Esmeralda Lim who acknowledged her greeting. “Good evening din, hija. Grabe siguro talaga ang traffic ano at na late ka din. Galing ka ba sa Makati?” She started a conversation with Maya.
“Hindi po. Galing po ako sa Q.C, sa may Katipunan area. Traffic po kasi sa may Eastwood.” Maya responded. It was a white lie, the traffic wasn’t that heavy that afternoon. The truth was she didn’t have an intention to join them.
“Ah ganoon ba? I thought you came from Makati. My son is somewhere in that area when I last spoke to him an hour ago. He should be arriving to join us anytime soon.” Esmeralda shared.
“Mare, ituloy muna natin itong appetizers natin habang naghihintay kay Richard. Ang mga batang ito kasi mga late pare-pareho, nagutom na tuloy tayo.” Teresita, Maya’s mother, offered a plate to the Lims. After everyone has taken their share, they began to eat. Maya’s didn’t hear mother but just followed what the rest was doing. She was in contemplative mood trying to figure a way out of her current predicament.
Esmeralda spoke again. “Hija, you are aware why we are having this family dinner, right?” She was smiling at Maya but her attention was diverted to Arturo who responded.
“Esme, she already knows. Nagka-usap na kami ni Maya last week. Sana nga nandito rin si Roberto para mas maayos natin itong kasunduan natin.” There was a hint of disappointment in Arturo’s tone.
“Hayy naku, alam mo naman ang isang iyon, busy sa negosyo. So, ano Maya, what do you think?” Esmeralda eyes shifted back to Maya; she was eyeing her with interest.
“Po? Gusto n’yo pong malaman what I think? Meron po ba akong choice?” She asked politely. She turned to her parents who were intently observing them.
It was then Liwen Lim cleared his throat and spoke. “We know that this may be a difficult to accept for you, Hija. Pero sa tingin namin, this will be good for our families in the long run. Sa ganitong panahon, we need friends that could help us. Also, we both are good families, we are suited to be formally tied-up in marriage. I think you and my grandson will make a good couple.” He spoke with such authority that Maya hesitated to respond back.
Mamang followed up. “It’s about time na maging isang pamilya na tayo. Matagal na itong plano pero hindi tayo mabigyan ng tamang panahon. Ngayon ay pwede na.” The rest all smiled in agreement except for Maya. She wanted the night to end.
Then, they heard Esmeralda declare. “Oh, finally, here is my son.” Maya saw her beam with pride. Since Maya’s back was turned against the approaching Richard Lim, she didn’t immediately see him.
“Hi Ma, Hello Pops. Good evening, po Sir, Mam.” Richard nodded at the Dela Rosa couple first and then leaned forward to kiss his mother. Esmeralda stood up to receive her son. Then, he took his grandfather’s hand and brought it to his forehead for the customary greetings to elders. While Maya couldn’t see his face, she smelled his cologne; his fresh and light masculine scent intrigued her.
After Richard was done greeting his family, his grandfather introduced him to Maya.
“Richard… This is Maya… Maya, hija ito si Ricky ang bunso kong apo. He will be your husband.” The senior Lim declared with conviction. Richard turned to the person on his left whose face he could barely see because her shoulder length hair was covering her.
Maya tucked some hair strands behind her ear as she looked up to meet Richard. When their eyes met, they had blank expressions. Then, as a realization dawned on them, their brows furrowed. They recognized each other and so both exclaimed “You? Ikaw?” They gaped in disbelief.