A/N: This is a continuation to Heart’s True Desire – part 12.
Heart’s True Desire – 13
Maya was about to exit the elevator at the main level of LBH when she met an unexpected person. It was James Ventura. He was standing outside the elevator door with his hands on his pockets.
“Maya!” “James!” After a moment of shock, they greeted each other excitedly. They hugged tightly that one could surmise they are very close friends. Maya almost dropped the luggage she was holding but James was quick to help her.
“It’s been three months. So, kelan ka pa bumalik James.” She asked as they moved out of the elevator area and took a few steps towards the lobby. He held Maya’s right hand while they talked.
“Well, I arrived 3 days ago, Beb. I’m here because I am accompanying a cousin with his family. They are vacationing in the Phils.” He explained. He used his petname for her. “So, how are you? Why are you here?” He was smiling; he had that very engaging look on his face.
“I am here for work. Dito na ako.” She declared then remembered that she doesn’t just work there. She is married to the owner of the hotel but she chose not to reveal that information yet.
“Talaga? Paanong nangyari, aren’t you for working for your family owned hotel?” James curiously asked.
“Mahabang kwento JV, saka na lang.”
“Anyway, what a coincidence. Dito kami nag-check in where you are working. So, will I see you later? Kailangan nating mag-usap.”
“Ahhh, No…. Actually, pauwi na ako sa Manila.” Maya suddenly remembered that Richard was at the lobby waiting for her. They only returned to LBH to get her things before proceeding to his parents house. So, even if she wanted to stay longer and talk to James , she couldn’t. She just realized she missed James’s company. She lost contact with him a few months since he and his wife went to Spain.
Richard was at the front desk area checking some papers while he waited for Maya. However, he lost focus on his task when he heard Maya’s voice. It was louder than usual and so he wondered whom she was talking with.
Richard went to the elevator area where her voice was coming from. He had just taken a few steps when he saw her with a tall guy. He couldn’t see the guy’s face since his back was turned against him. However, he had a view of Maya’s face.
He noticed something different with Maya. She was all smiles. It was the kind of smile that he thought she looked her prettiest. He had that smile on her loops during their Vegas trip. So, out of curiosity, he observed them. They look animated in their conversation. “Obviously they were long time friends”, He thought.
Then, James and Maya turned to walk towards his direction. The two men’s eyes met and there was immediate recognition between them.
“Bro.” “James” The two shook hands. Their wide smiles showed they were glad to see each other.
“Wow, long time no see. At dito pa tayo nagkita.” James commented.
“Oo nga. So how are you? Kumusta? Do you still get together with the other guys?” Richard asked his former club-mate.
James shook his head. “Hindi na masyado pare. Most of the guys have married. By the way, si Arnold is connecting to the team these days. He is organising a medical and donation mission for Leyte. Do you want to go?” The men were engrossed in their conversation while Maya just looked on to them with a smile.
She couldn’t help but compare who looked better. Other than their fair skin, their features were different. She thought James had kind and smiling eyes that one easily gets comfortable with him. Whereas Richard’s eyes were…her mind went blank. She can’t find the appropriate words to describe him.
Richard pulled out a business card from his pocket and gave it to James. “I am interested in that project James. Please let me know when it will be. You can reach me here, bro.”
James read the card for a while then said. “Talagang it’s a small world. So, you own this hotel and Maya works for you.” He looked at Richard and then to Maya.
Richard’s eyes narrowed but quickly returned to normal after seeing Maya’s smile became uneasy. “Oh, yeah. It’s really a small world. Well, anyway, tawag ka lang bro para makasama ako sa inyo.” Richard nodded to Maya signaling they needed to go.
“Okay, I’ll connect to you. Or, I will tell Maya if I can’t reach you directly.” James took notice that the two were going off somewhere especially after Richard reached for Maya’s luggage handle.
Before James bid them goodbye, he gave Maya another kiss on her cheek. “I’ll call you later, beb.”
Maya responded cheerfully. “Sige, JV.”
Richard eyed them carefully. He winced a little when he felt tiny pricks on his chest while he saw them kiss and she called him JV.
Richard was backing his car out of parking space into the main road when he asked Maya about James. “Didn’t you tell me that James is already married?” She was seated at the passenger seat beside him.
“Yes. He’s married to Arlene, you know her.” She responded readily.
“Talaga? But I thought you and James were an item?” He followed up his question with another. He was already in the main highway driving towards Sta. Rosa.
“Huh? No. We are just friends.” She responded to the question with her standard answer.
“I’m not trying to be too nosy but why did he ended up with Arlene? Kasi ang alam ko talaga, kayo ni James. I do remember that you told me that you like him.”
“Hindi Ricky. James and I have always been friends, just friends. He married Arlene when she got pregnant.”
“So, may anak na pala si James.” He concluded.
“Hmm, not really. They lost their baby when she was 5 months pregnant.” She shared more information.
Richard stopped asking and concentrated on his driving.
After explaining, Maya felt her face become warm. It felt a little awkward discussing about James with Richard. She couldn’t admit to him she lied about James being her crush during her first year in college. Her real crush then was Richard. But over the years, she developed some feelings for James too. Unfortunately, he married someone else.
Richard noticed Maya blush after they talked about James. He had a suspicion that there was more to them than what she cared to share. It bothered him that she was very at ease with James. It felt like he still had to win the confidence and trust of Maya to just even be friends with him. He thought that maybe he wasn’t trying hard enough. Then, he remembered the smile on Maya’s face when she was talking to James. Richard wanted that smile for himself only.
Maya was watching TV with her mother in-law when she yawned. The dinner with Richard’s parents went very well, as expected. However, it was already 9:30 p.m. but Richard was still in the office of his father.
Earlier, Richard told her that has an important matter to discuss with his father. It was the same time when she answered a phone call. Maya nodded to Richard when he asked, “Is that James?”
Maya’s yawned for the third time and Mom Esmeralda finally commented. “Maya, mukhang matatagalan pa ang pag-uusap ni Ricky at ni Robert. Mabuti pa, hija, eh mag-pahinga ka muna sa kwarto ni Ricky… ay kwarto n’yo pala.”
“Mom, okay lang po, dito na lang ako maghihintay.” She declined.
“Nuku eh ang dalawang iyon, pag nag-usap ng negosyo minsan inuumaga. Parang hindi sila nagkikita sa opisina.” Esmeralda stood up from her seat and took Maya’s hand.
“Halika na, Hija. You better rest in the room. Ina-antok na rin kasi ako so matutulog na ako but I don’t want to leave you here alone. You’ll be more comfortable in Ricky’s room.”
Maya couldn’t protest against her mother in-law’s suggestion. To some extent Mom Esme was right, she needed to rest. She woke up very early that day so she kept on yawning after dinner. The red wine they had during dinner also added to her drowsiness.
A few minutes later, Maya was already in Richard’s room.
“Maya, hija, eto yung room ni Ricky. Room mo na rin ito ngayon so make yourself comfortable.” Mom Esmeralda reminded Maya while she removed the bed covers for her.
“Thank you po, Mom.” Maya looked around the room and saw old photos of Richard on top of his work table.
“Mom, ang singkit-singkit pala talaga ni Ricky noong bata pa s’ya no? Ilang taon po siya dito?” She took a framed photo of a young boy in a white polo barong.
“Ahh, he was around 7 at that time. He was the bible bearer in his cousin’s wedding.” Esmeralda stared at the photo. “I love this photo, ang gwapo ng anak ko dito.” She proudly said.
Maya smiled. “Yes, I agree po. At ngayon po, mas gwapo pa si Ricky.” It was a statement that just came out of Maya’s mouth while she stared absent mindedly at his childhood photo.
Esmeralda walked towards Maya and with curiosity asked. “So, just between us, hija, talaga bang nagkakasundo kayo ni Richard? Hindi sa nakiki-alam ako pero dumaan din kasi ako diyan sa arranged marriage so I would understand kung sa una hindi pa kayo mag-kasundo ng anak ko. Hindi naman kasi kayo nagkaroon ng courtship period.”
“Mom, okay lang po kami talaga. Normal naman po kami, we are still in the getting to know each other pa po. Pero sa ngayon busy kami pareho sa work.” She assured his mother.
“Anyway, sige, mag-pahinga ka na. Naistorbo na talaga kita at mukhang pagod ka. Mabuti pa kaya, dito na lang kayo matulog.” Mom Esme suggested.
She quickly responded. “Naku Mom, hindi na po siguro. We will go home once Richard’s done with his discussion with dad. Nakaka miss na rin ang bahay namin.” She meant what she just said. Maya wanted to go home so she could clean up their condo unit. They only have a cleaning lady and she wondered if their refrigerator still had contents.
However, Mom Esme was insistent until she was about to leave Maya. “Bukas na kayo umuwi. Anyway, gabi na at hindi pa kayo natulog dito sa bahay simula ng ikasal kayo.”
As soon as Richard’s mother left, she sent quickly sent a text message to Richard.
“Sabi ni mom, dito daw tayo matulog. I said we can not.” She was in panic; her fingers were trembling. Since Vegas, they haven’t been in the same bedroom.
Maya settled herself on the bed while she waited patiently for Richard’s response. She checked her phone every 5 minutes to see his response but there was none. After several minutes, she fell asleep.