A/N: This is a continuation to Heart’s True Desire – part 11.
Heart’s True Desire – 12
So near, yet so far
Maya was having lunch alone at the restaurant of Lim Boutique Hotel in Tagaytay. She was enjoying the pasta she ordered while appreciating the panoramic view of the Taal Lake. The calmness of the lake evoked in her a moment of reflection. She began to think about her current life. A lot has changed since she married Richard six weeks ago in Vegas.
From the time she moved in his Makati condominium unit a month ago, they have not actually spent more than two days together under the same “roof.” Their sleeping arrangements were separate. They were living in the same place but are not really together in the true sense as married couple. It felt like she was living alone. However, she justified their situation as the natural consequence of their agreement. In fact, she was the one who insisted on it.
She recalled their first day together, the day he fetched her from his parents’ house.
“Maya, welcome to your new home.” He told her as he opened the door after keying in the security code. “Hon, the password to our house is our wedding date.” He was in a jovial mood that morning. It started when he fetched her and her father kept on teasing them over breakfast that finally, they were going to be together.
Maya stared at him blankly when he opened the door wider for her to enter. She didn’t want to attach any meaning to the use of their wedding date as the password.
He showed her around the place, from the living room, kitchen to the utility area. She didn’t say anything as she just observed the place. She was immediately impressed by the size and modern interiors of his home. It will require her to get accustomed to living with him, she thought. She had been used to being with her parents that separation anxiety suddenly attacked her again.
“So, how do you find the place?” Richard checked with her as they returned to the living room.
“Maganda s’ya. So, you had this renovated?” She asked intending to be more polite.
“Yes, the kitchen and dining area.” He responded. “I had it upgraded just in case you want to cook or entertain some people, then, there is space for you. I used to have just the basics here because I was always out anyway. If you want to have some changes, it’s up to you. You have the free hand to do it. You can use the LHR consultants to help you.”
She smiled. “Thank you, Ricky. I’ll think about it.”
Then, he steered her towards the two bedrooms, which were side-by-side fronting the living room area. Richard opened one room and he declared. “Okay, Maya. This is our bedroom.” A teasing smile was plastered on his face.
Maya’s brows immediately furrowed. “What?” She almost exclaimed. “Didn’t we have an agreement? Richard, I thought it was clear that we aren’t sharing room.” She said in a worried tone.
Maya’s statement wiped off the smile from his face; he became serious. He took a deep sighed before saying. “So, you are really bent on keeping us on business level.” He stated.
“Yes. Di ba, I’ve explained the reason why.” She responded tentatively. Somehow, Richard’s change of mood affected her.
He looked at her for a while before he spoke again. “Okay! I understand that your body and heart are a package.” He gave her another piercing stare. “Anyway, this is my bedroom.” He pointed again at the opened room.
He then opened the room adjacent to his. “This my wife, is your room. It is a bit smaller than the other. If you want to exchange with mine, I am okay with it. I assume you have lots of clothes judging by the number of boxes that the moving van will load from your parents house.”
She just peeked at the room. “Richard this is fine. Salamat uli.”
“Now that we’ve discussed the living arrangement, let’s discuss the work arrangement.” Richard invited her to sit on the sofa on their living room. When they were seated, he started to discuss the job.
“I’ll be putting you as the group operations manager of Lim Boutique hotels. You know that we operate in different market segments. You will be in charge of the boutiques. You will be reporting to the Operations Director of LHR. This is your job description.” He handed the folder which was on the center table. He left her while she read the paper.
The folder included just not her job description but also an appointment paper. She was being treated just like any other employee. She couldn’t decide if she would feel bad or glad about it.
“Do you have questions?” He asked when he returned to his seat. He changed into a pair of sleeveless light green color shirt and jogging pants and had a duffle bag with him.
“Yes, but it is more of a clarification.” She looked at him. “I thought, you wanted me to work for you. So, is there a change of plan?” His well-toned biceps momentarily distracted her.
“Maya, I said you will work for me but I didn’t say directly under me. Anyway, I’m sure you’ll like your boss.” He answered her question in a matter-of-fact way.
“So, who is going to be my supervisor?” She asked.
“It’s Robert Lim.” He responded without batting an eyelash.
Maya’s eyes turned rounded. “Si Dad?” Then, her lips started to curve into a smile. “Isn’t he the President?”
Richard noticed her reaction. “So, I figured that you already like you boss. Dad has stepped down from the role of CEO but he will be in the operations role for the meantime until we fully transitioned the management team. There were a couple of changes recently done in LHR.” He explained.
“By the way, I assumed that you’d want to keep your maiden name for the meantime. So, you are being hired as Maya dela Rosa.” He added but his expression told her he needed her agreement.
“Ha? Paano sina na Dad at Papa, do they know about it?” She immediately shared her concern.
“Yes. They agreed that the name change can happen when we have the wedding here in the Phils.” He then stood up. “I’m going to the gym. See you later.”
So, she was hired as Maya dela Rosa. During that weekend, they had dinner together at the restaurant. Richard noticed that Maya’s behavior at times was difficult to read. If he made any slight move that would indicate his interest in her, she became guarded. After that honeymoon night in Vegas, he never had a chance to be close to her again. He wondered if she had been hurt before hence she acted that way. It was a question that he wanted to have an answer soon.
On the first day she reported to LHR, she was sent out on travel assignment. She was asked to do the rounds of their hotels and observe how each hotel was being run. They have 6 boutique hotels and the Tagaytay location is the 4th hotel that she was visiting. She still had Gen. Santos and Boracay to visit.
She had been travelling for the last four weeks but would return home on weekends. In those four weeks, she and Richard only managed to visit their respective parents once. On days they were both in the house, Maya would cook. She knew a couple of dishes and she prepared those for them to share. If he didn’t like her cooking, she had no idea. Richard ate whatever she cooked.
Since Richard also travelled on business, they really didn’t see much of each other at their condo unit. Most of the time, they only communicated thru phone or text messages but those conversations were more business relaed. On the few occasions that they checked on each other, those conversations would be very short. Their set-up was functional for both of them.
Although theirs was a marriage by agreement, she couldn’t deny that she find him good looking. There were few occasions that she could get mesmerized when he looks at her intently over dinner. However, she was convinced that she had no romantic feelings for him unlike the time when they were still in college.
Maya’s reflection over lunch was disrupted when she was surprised to see Richard approaching.
“Hi, hon.” He planted a kiss on the cheek. He liked calling her honey and she had given up reminding him to stop using the honey word in public a long time ago.
She felt her heart jumped out of her chest. “Ricky. What are you doing here?” She was shocked to see him especially because she found him so good looking wearing his ray ban eyeglasses that time.
“Well, pwede ko bang sabihing na mi-miss kita kaya sinundan kita dito?” He responded in a jest.
“I wish I could say the same.” She responded in the same manner. By that time, she had gotten used to his style of joking and at times teasing her. “Upo ka, Ricky.” She invited him to join her on the table.
“So, how are you these past few days. I’m wondering if you are enjoying too much the assignment that Dad gave you.” He commented as he took the seat opposite her.
Before she could respond, a hotel staff approached them carrying a plate of food.
“Thanks, Bianca.” He smiled at the staff that caused the latter to smile giddily. Maya shook her head. Nothing’s changed, girls swoon over him, Maya thought.
Richard turned his attention back to her. “Have you tried this chicken? This is one of our bestsellers here.”
“Thank you. I’ve tried it on the first day and I agree it tastes good.” She responded as she finished her food.
The two switched their topic to business. They discussed her observations of the 4 locations she visited so far. Towards the end of their impromptu meeting, Richard told her to include the summary of customer feedback when she finalizes her report.
After lunch, Richard asked her about her plans for the rest of the day.
“I still have one night here. I’m planning to go home tomorrow. May ipapagawa ka ba sa akin?” She responded. She half expected him to give her work since he tended to be serious when it came to business.
Richard almost laughed at her question. “No, I have nothing to request from you. I am going to Highlands to play golf with some friends. I knew that you are here so I wonder if you would like to join me? The other option is we could do some market research. How about we check out other boutique hotels in the area?” The suggestion of Richard produced positive reaction from her. She actually toyed with the same idea earlier.
“Hmm, mas gusto ko yang idea ng market research.” She told him excitedly. In the end, they agreed to go out after lunch. She then excused herself so she could go to her room to change into more casual attire.
Thirty minutes later, Richard and Maya were in his car driving along Aguinaldo hi-way. As they drove, a row of fresh flowers by the roadside were near in sight. Maya commented when they were approaching that area.
“One thing I like in this highway are the fresh flowers.” She glanced at Richard and then turned back to look ahead.
“Really?” He glanced back.
“Oo naman. Ang ganda kasing tingnan.” She confirmed. Maya’s expression revealed how much she liked flowers.
Seeing her smile, Richard pulled over his car near the roadside vendors. He asked Maya to alight from the car. He had a sudden urge to buy her flowers.
“Ricky, bakit tayo huminto. Are we buying flowers?” She curiously asked as she got out of the car.
“Well, you like them right? So, why don’t you get some. Come on.” He took her hand and clasped it with his.
An old woman quickly met them as they approached the flowers stand. “Sir, Mam. Bulaklak po.” The lady offered. “Sir, para po kay ma’m, pumili na po kayo.”
Richard then lightly draped an arm around Maya’s shoulder as he spoke. “Hon, pili ka ng gusto mo.”
The old woman looked at them with admiration after she remarked. “Ma’m, ang sweet naman ni sir.”
“Oh ayan, honey, pumili ka na talaga. Pinuri na ako ni Manang.” Richard responded to the comment.
Maya just smiled at the old woman and then glanced at Richard who was smiling too. She didn’t mind having his arm on her shoulder. So, it really looked like their were couple. She actually agreed that it was sweet of him to just pull-over to get flowers for no reason at all.
She smiled at him genuinely. “Thank you, Ricky.”
“Manang, yun pong gerberas, carnations, and peach roses. Pipili po ako.” Maya pointed at flowers on the top of layered boxes.
“Ohh, I didn’t realise you like that much of flowers.” Richard uttered when he saw she had chosen several stems for each type of the flower she pointed earlier.
“Hindi naman masyado. Nagandahan lang ako talaga. Yung iba, ipapalagay ko muna sa hotel. Pero yung iba, pwede idaan mo sa bahay ni Mommy? I know she likes flowers too.”
“Hmm, so thoughtful ka palang daughter-in-law.” He was amused by her request to drop by his parents house later to bring them flowers..
She smiled back. “Slight lang.” Both of them seemed to be in a jovial mood. After Richard paid for the flowers, they started to walk back to his car.
“Maya, why don’t we bring the flowers ourselves. We can have dinner there if you want. I’m sure she’d be happy to see you.” Richard suggested. It was another sudden idea.
“Ricky, I still have another day here. Bukas pa ang plano kong umuwi.” She reminded him.
“Well, in case you’ve forgotten Mrs. Lim, you are not an ordinary employee. I think you have certain privileges that would allow you to go home earlier than schedule.” He arched an eyebrow. He tried to convince her.
Maya admitted that Richard had a point. Besides, she liked the idea of spending time with his mother with whom she gets along very well. She misses the company of family. Then, it dawned on her how quickly she had accepted his parents as her family. She gets along with both his parents. So, Maya agreed.
So, they made a spur of the moment change of plan. Instead of doing market research as they earlier agreed, they ended up returning to LBH to retrieve her bags and other things to head back to Manila. They decided to just leave her car in Tagaytay.