This is a continuation to Heart’s True Desire – part 7.
Heart’s True Desire – 8
Trip to Memory Lane
Later that evening, Richard and Maya were in a French restaurant of the Venetian Hotel at Vegas strip having wine and dinner. They were quietly enjoying their food with occasional conversation and smiles to each other. There was no air of awkwardness unlike their earlier meetings. It was an indication they were more comfortable with each other. It was an evening just for the two of them.
Earlier, Emman begged off from dinner saying he wanted them to enjoy as newly married couple. They both knew he was teasing them. He also argued that he can’t meet other people if he kept on tagging along with them. So, Richard and Maya planned on dining and exploring Vegas by themselves.
“Maya, thank you again for agreeing to have this dinner with me.” Richard said when they were about to finish their main course.
“You are welcome. Anyway, since we are already here and we are going to be together for sometime or whatever, it doesn’t hurt if we can be friends, right?” She sounded conciliatory which she thought was really inappropriate because she hasn’t done anything to him. So, she added. “I mean today, we got married and we could start being nice and friendly.”
Richard laughed. “I’ve always been nice and friendly to you, Maya.” His eyes twinkled as he drank his red wine.
She smirked at him. “Ohh, yeah.” There was a tone of sarcasm in her tone. Then, she looked down and forked her food.
“Oopps, labas sa ilong ang agreement mo ah?” He teased her.
“Well…yeah.” She reluctantly agreed. She didn’t want to open an ancient old story between them. However, it was Richard who brought it up.
“Ahhh, I think this has something to do with college.” He looked at her quizzically. She just gave him a blank stare.
He pursued his assumption. “I know this might be history but since I saw you again, I wondered why didn’t you meet me at the parking lot that night after the dance.”
Maya’s arched her eyebrows. “Anong ibig mong sabihin, meet you at the parking lot?” She pretended not to understand.
“Exactly like that, di ba ang sinabi ko sa’yo that time I’ll meet you at the parking lot? We were supposed to talk.” Richard restated his question. “Don’t you remember what happened?”
Maya went mum as she slowly processed what he was saying. It was a long time ago but every single scene that transpired that night was still vivid in her memory.
Flashback – eight years ago
Maya’s first encounter with Richard was during the freshmen orientation. He was a member of the school’s glee club and they sang in the program. The first time she saw him, she already had a crush on him. She found him so cute especially his chinky eyes and be-dimpled right cheek. He wasn’t wearing eyeglasses yet.
Later, she discovered that he was quite popular with girls. She became just one of the many girls who swooned when he passed by. The only advantage she had over the others was that one of her friend’s brother James was Richard’s friend. Both James and Richard belonged to the same club. And so, Richard and Maya tended to mingle in the same circle of people but not necessarily close to each other. He had only face and name recognition of her. They only had a Hi and Hello conversations.
In those days, it was quite common for freshmen girls to have crushes on the seniors. Her inner circle of female friends was aware about her crush except that they didn’t know one secret. She checked on him regularly when he was in school. She was like his stalker; she followed him around whenever her schedule allowed her to.
When the college dance was announced in January, second semester, it was the height of her insanity with him. She actually wrote a simple note to Richard asking him to be her date and posted it in his club’s bulletin board. She didn’t leave her name but left her phone number, hoping he would call her. She never got a response from him. She was disappointed as she felt she was turned down. Then, she noticed that he started to spend more free time with only one girl in the campus.
Maya ended up with dating James Ventura, Yna’s brother. James was friendly and very much a gentleman. She discovered the difference between Richard and James at the college dance.
Since their friends were in the same circle, they shared a long table that night. Everyone enjoyed the party. At one point, they started teasing each other. In the spirit of fun, everyone was asked one controversial question and that was who was his or her crush. Maya wasn’t exempted although she tried to beg off. Some of her friends chose to answer honestly but in Maya’s case, she didn’t want admit anything especially because Richard was on the same table. He came to the dance with a girl named Macy.
So, when it was Maya’s turn to answer, she said. “Jeff Macavinta.”
Even her friends were surprised by her response. “Huh? Sino yun?” Arlene and Yna, her two friends asked.
“Ahh, yung classmate ko ng high school sa San Nicolas.” She beamed after her declaration.
“Ay, hindi pwede yung ganoong sagot. Dapat yung kilala namin.” One of guys insisted. “ Huwag ka ng pakalayo. Dito lang sa table na ‘to ang daming gwapo, pwede ka ng pumili dito.” All the seven guys on the table laughed.
Maya kept her smile and glanced at Richard who was looking her with a smug expression.
“Kayo ha, niloloko n’yo yata ako.” She innocently responded.
It was Richard who spoke next. “Actually, ako ang crush niya.” He declared.
Upon hearing Richard’s statement, Maya froze. She felt cold all over thinking he deliberately humiliated her in front of their friends. When she recovered she said in a raised voice. “Hindi kaya!”
“Owwss, are you sure?” Richard stood up as if he was going to her seat. The other guys started cheering them. “Oh,oh.oh”
“Of course not!” She denied vehemently.
Richard returned to his chair. “Oh mga dudes, hindi ako ang crush. So, out na ako sa choices.” He laughed.
Since Maya was guilty and hurting from his rejection to be her date, she made a face at him and pursed her lips indicating she was upset. She kept quiet after that. She didn’t understand why Richard acted that way.
James who was seated beside her even asked. “Maya, are you okay?”
“Yes, okay lang ako. Ang yabang lang kasi nung isa dito.” She told James in a whisper. When she glanced at the Richard’s direction, he was staring at them.
After a few minutes, Maya excused herself. She reasoned she needed to go to the ladies room. She couldn’t bear anymore Richard’s eyes staring at her whenever she glanced at him.
She chose to go to the farthest ladies room in the venue where there would be few people. After staying there of a few, she got ready to go back to her friends. She just closed the door when she was shocked to find Richard leaning on the wall just outside the ladies room.
“Maya.” He touched her arm when she passed him.
“Yes?” She responded and stopped to face him.
“About earlier, I think I upset you.” He started the conversation. “I teased you unnecessarily. The guys there put you on the spot, I thought I could make it easier for you by saying it is me.” He explained.
“Well, ang conceited mo naman. How did that help me? Actually, parang nagyabang ka lang kanina. Pag-alam mo bang may crush sa’yo ang tao, you broadcast it to the rest of the world?” She challenged him.
“Of course not. As I said, I thought I was making it easier for you. Pero actually, I wanted to confirm my assumption too.”
“Na may crush ka nga sa akin. I’ve been seeing you a lot wherever I am. It’s strange considering you are a freshman and I am senior and we are in separate buildings. You seem to be always there, unless you are really stalking me.” He made a conclusion that was very close to the truth.
Maya went pale but she stood her ground. “Of course not.” Then, she felt something thru his piercing gaze so she averted her eyes from him.
“Hmm, parang tama ang hula ko ah.” Richard took steps forward such that Maya had to step backwards. She stopped backing when she felt the wall behind her.
“Excuse me Richard, I have to go back.” She wanted to get away from him but he pinned her on the wall.
“Let’s stay here for a while.” He looked into her eyes and then his gaze transferred to her lips. Her lips trembled a little; she was nervous. And then swiftly, he kissed her. Maya was very shocked that she couldn’t move and neither responded. When he lifted his face, she gave him a hard slap.
“Bastos!! Kung may gusto man ako, hindi ikaw yon, si James” She declared in anger.
The stinging pain on his face and her words made Richard come to his senses. “I’m sorry, Maya.” He apologized. She was about to ran away from him but he grasped her arms preventing her to move. “I’m sorry.” He uttered a second apology.
He was about to say more when Arlene, one of her friends found them. “Heyy, dito lang pala kayong dalawa. Maya, hinahanap ka na ni James.”
“Thank you Arlene. Pabalik na nga ako. Napa-kwento lang ako kay Richard.” She answered the other girl. Arlene then turned around and left the two.
Before Maya could take a step away from him, he spoke apologetically. “I know I made bad moves this evening. Pwede ba tayong mag-usap later? Can you meet me at the parking lot?”
That was the first and last one on one conversation she had with Richard. After that incident, she avoided him. Then, two months later, he graduated from college and she never heard from him again.
End of flashback
“Maya” Richard calling her name brought her back attention back to him and their dinner. “You haven’t answered my question.”
She smiled at him. She realized how childish she was to stalk him that time. “Yung bakit hindi ako naki pag meet sa’yo sa parking lot?”
He nodded in confirmation.
“Well as I remember, when we returned to our table, you went out with your date, Macy. So, I didn’t know whether you were serious with that parking lot meeting. Besides, I was with James.” She explained.
“Then, why didn’t you meet me at the library two days after? I sent you a message and I waited for you the whole afternoon.” Richard asked again.
“Anong message and library? I never got a message.” She answered; her brows furrowed. She wasn’t sure if he was telling her the truth or not.
“You didn’t get the message? I sent it thru Arlene and also texted you, but you never responded. So I concluded that you didn’t want to talk to me again.” Richard verbalized his conclusion.
“Well, I didn’t get your message. But if I did, I would probably not show up.
Inis na inis ako sa’yo that time.” She couldn’t say that other than being humiliated, he actually stole her first kiss. Then, a fleeting thought crossed her mind, if he sent her a message thru text, then he must have known that she was the sender of the anonymous note.
“It is strange because I remembered asking Arlene twice if you got the message and she said yes.” He was serious.
“Anyway, matagal na ‘yon. Richard. By the way, James and Arlene got married in case you didn’t know.” Maya transitioned to a new topic but Richard got stuck on their history.
“Maya even it was years ago, I want to apologize again. I was obnoxious that night.” They looked at each other for a while, as she assessed his sincerity. In the end, she recognize that his apology was real.
“Alright Richard, apology accepted. Let’s move on.” She gave him a warm smile.