This is a continuation to Heart’s True Desire – part 17
Heart’s True Desire – 18
Sunday morning was cloudy and chilly. It was as if the climate was foreboding what was to happen in Richard and Maya’s blossoming relationship. Neither one sensed that rough patches were forthcoming.
That morning, the couple sat together in their dining table having breakfast in silence. It was a silence that was more typical of people comfortable with each other. There was no awkwardness between them.
Maya secretly peered at Richard while he was reading the morning paper. She was appreciating the good looks of her husband. She smiled as she thought of him as her husband.
After the previous week’s concerted efforts of Richard including the impromptu singing at the restaurant, Maya’s wall of defense came crumbling down. . Having spent a few months with him, she was seeing him a different light.
Richard placed the paper down and turned to Maya as if he remembered something.
“Hon, tumawag pala si Arnold, last night. You remember him, he’s my friend from college. It’s about the medical mission and fund drive for Leyte. He’s organizing a dinner get-together this Friday. Punta tayo.” Richard invited her.
“Huh? This coming Friday?” She clarified. Her thoughts about the man in front of him prevented her to immediately connect to his invitation.
“Yes, why?” He was curious.
“Naku, I have a conflict in my schedule. I agreed kay Emman to accompany him sa isang fashion event niya, eh.” She explained.
“Ahh, really?” He sipped the coffee that she prepared for him. “Hmm, okay, if you are not available, I’ll go alone. So, where are the two of you going? Do you want me to drop you or fetch you from the venue?” He further offered.
“There’s no need. I can drive myself to the place. D’yan lang naman sa SMX Convention center. I’ll be able to manage.” She declined his offer.
He continued with their conversation. “Sayang, I think there is a big group coming to that dinner. I think it will be like a reunion with college friends. Sa bahay niya gagawin.”
“Maybe next time na lang. Okay? At saka, tuloy pala ako sa Gen San this Tuesday. I’ll be there for 2 days lang to do operations audit. Sabi ni dad, we need to consolidate the report soon. He wants to review it before he leaves for China.” She shared her plans for the week.
“This week na ba yang Gen San? I thought next week pa. I planned on joining you in that trip.” Richard informed her. Then, he got his mobile phone from the mobile counter and checked his calendar. He was looking at it seriously and then began to dial a number.
“Lisa, good morning. Is my calendar updated? I’m looking at it right now.” He waited for the response from his secretary. “Ahh, okay… no, no don’t cancel that. I need to meet Rafi for the La Esperanza marketing…Yeah…. Thanks.” Richard sighed after he ended the call.
“Ano yun Ricky?” Maya barely understood his conversation with his secretary.
“Sorry, hon. I can’t travel with you this week. I’m expecting a friend, who is also our consultant, to help review some marketing plans for the revival of La Esperanza.” He explained to her.
Maya became excited. “So what is it? Pwede mong e-share?”
Richard eyed her carefully noticing her excitement with the mention of La Esperanza’s revival. Suddenly, he was hesitant to pursue his business plans. “Uhmm, I’ll let you know once the plan is clearer, okay?”
“Hon, I’ll have business lunch today and then attend directly a meeting with the hotel association in the afternoon. I might be late coming back to the office.” Richard informed Maya while they were on their way to the office.
Maya just looked at him quizzically but there was a smile on her lips. “Ehhh, nagpapa-alam ka ba?”
He grinned. “Not really, I just thought that you might wonder where I am. At saka baka ma-inip ka sa paghihintay sa driver mo.” He jested. He was referring to himself as the driver. For almost two weeks already, they’ve been going to the office together using his car.
“I can always take a taxi pag na-inip ako.” She quipped. Then, her mobile phone rang. When she saw whose number was flashing, she turned serious.
“Hello.” She answered the call on its third ring.
“How are you?” Maya said and then she listened to the caller. “Ahhh, yeah sure. I am available. ….. Yes but I don’t have a car today… So…O sige, I’ll meet you here then. Yes, sa Serendipity side….. Yes…See you later, JV.” She ended the call with a smile plastered on her face. She didn’t see that Richard glanced at her when she mentioned the name JV.
“Hon, who was that?” Richard asked although he had a suspicion tha the caller was James. He doesn’t like it when she smiles for him and he saw it again a few seconds ago. He pretended he wasn’t interested in her phone conversation moments ago but in reality he was listening.
“Si James… nag-invite ng lunch today. Susunduin na lang niya ako sa side entrance ng hotel.” She shared. It’s been over three months since she had lunch out with James and admittedly; she was excited about his invitation.
“So, you and James are really close friends? How about Arlene, are you friends with his wife?” Richard asked her after he glanced at her again.
“Yes. I am closer to James than Arlene.” She replied. After Richard’s somber facial expression, an unfamiliar feeling came over her. She felt uneasy telling him that she and James were close friends. It was as if she needed to defend their friendship.
Richard didn’t say anything anymore. He chose to keep quiet while he tried to understand his own emotion. Somehow, it affected his mood knowing that Maya was going out for lunch with James.
By four thirty, Richard was back from his meeting and he immediately went to Maya’s office. He was surprised that she wasn’t there and he was more surprised with what he found out.
“Sir, si Ms. Maya po?” Mica asked.
“Yes, Mica, where is your boss?” He repeated his question. He was standing in front of Maya’s secretary who was beaming at him.
“Kanina po, sinundo noong si Sir James? Tapos po, around 3:00 p.m., tumawag sinabing a-attend daw po sila ng symposium ng Yolanda victims.” Maya’s assistant gave the details.
Richard expression became serious after realizing that Maya was still out with James. Then, he got curious. So in a subtle way, he probed more. “Hmm, by the way, how did you meet James?”
Mica giggled before she responded. “Hi,hi,hi, Sir. Pumunta po siya dito sa office. Ayan nga po, may dala pang flowers for Ms. Maya. Yun po siguro ang boyfriend ni ma’m, kasi everyday kung magpadala ng flowers with chocolates pa.”
It was only then Richard noticed the basket of assorted flowers on Maya’s table. Richard’s ears turned red as pangs of jealousy bit him. The tiny stabs on his chest were quite new to him and so without saying goodbye to Mica, he left the room.
Later that evening, Richard found himself in a bar taking an alcoholic drink. He was trying to manage his emotion. He knew he shouldn’t be upset but the thought of Maya with James produced that effect on him. He needed to calm himself.
Then, he read again her short text message to him earlier. She told him she will go home by herself and that she will be late because she will have dinner out after the symposium she was attending. What was adding to his upset was that, Maya seemed to have just changed her plans that afternoon after James called her up.
After two days of being out of town, Maya was back in Manila. Instead of going home directly, she decided to report to the office. Her flight arrived Manila at mid-day. She looked forward to seeing Richard.
On the two days she was away, they still managed to have a phone conversation every morning. However, those conversations were short and very business focused.
He sounded distant and emotionless and that actually started since Monday night. He gave her a cold shoulder that night when she arrived home. So, she wondered if something was bothering him.
Back at the office, she was told that Richard was at Serendipity, one of their restaurants, entertaining a guest. Thinking that it was okay for her to join him, she decided to follow him there.
The moment Maya set her foot inside the restaurant, their eyes met and locked. He motioned for her to come over. She noticed that he was with a female guest. She couldn’t see the latter because her back was turned against the entrance. She walked towards them.
“Hi Maya. I thought you’d go straight home after your trip.” He was smiling at her as he pulled a chair for her.
“Ahh, I decided to come over. I have a lot of work to do.” Maya sat on the chair and it was then she had a face-to-face view of the female guest he was with. Maya’s smile slowly faded.
“Uhmmm, Rafi, please meet Maya dela Rosa, our group operations manager.” Richard introduced the two women. “Maya, this is Rafi Alcantara, my friend.”
Maya eyed Rafi carefully. The latter had a lovely face and being introduced as his friend, she wondered if there was more to their friendship. The two looked good together, she observed. She couldn’t help but think that there might be more than friendship between the two.
“It’s good to meet you Maya.” Rafi extended her hand. Her tone was charming and her smile disarming.
“Thank you. It’s also nice to meet you too, Rafi. Anyway, I think I disturbed you. I’ll have to return to my office. Nag rounds lang naman ako.” She suddenly felt awkward joining them in their table. Maya stood up and readied to leave to them.
She half-expected that Richard would ask her to stay but he didn’t. Instead, he allowed her to go. “Alright, I’ll see you later Maya.”
As Maya turned and walked away, she was uneasy. She realized she was jealous of Rafi. This is the same familiar feeling she had years ago whenever she saw him with other girls. It was also the same feeling she felt when James told her that he was getting married three years ago. She hated the feeling. So, she decided to just go home.
The following day, it was Maya was quiet over the breakfast table. She prepared breakfast that morning although she didn’t intend to go to the office that day.
“You’re not going to the office?” He asked seeing she wasn’t dressed for office work.
“No. I’ll just work from here. Half-day lang naman since I’m going to Emman’s event today.”
“Are you sure you don’t want to come to the dinner get-together at Arnold’s place? A lot of our friends will be there.” Richard asked as Maya started to leave the table.
“Nope. Next time na lang.” She went back to her room.
The cocktails drinks were being served as Richard’s college friends were in a merriment talking to each other. After almost 8 years, it was like a reunion that of their batch-club that night. There were 40 of them batch mates and some of them brought their spouses and partners with them. Since Richard and Maya had common friends, some of Maya’s friends were also there.
Richard was alone since Maya went to another event with Emman. Despite that, he was enjoying the night. Then, suddenly, an arm clung to his arm as he was walking towards a group on the left side of the pool area.
“Hi Ricky, it’s been sometime.” A sexy figure moved close to Richard.
When Richard turned, he smiled. “Hi Stephanie. Kumusta?” He asked after the lady kissed him on the cheek.
“Well, I am good. I am still single. Ikaw kasi eh. Why did you leave me in the States?” Stephanie flirted openly with him.
Richard just chuckled. “Steph… You know there’s no future for us.” He was going to step away from her but Steph held on to him.
“Hmmm, well, we always say that don’t we?” Stephanie purred closer to him.
“I’m already married Steph.” Richard declared as he tried to disengage from her.
Steph just laughed. “Ricky, don’t try that married trick to me. I know you’ve used it in the past to keep away girls. Anyway, let’s mingle around.” She steered him towards left side of the pool area.
Richard then looked around to find his other friend, Rafi. She and Stephanie are close friends. “Steph, have you seen Rafi? She should be around here with her husband.”
“I believe they are coming in late. She told me Charlie still has a meeting before this event.” She responded. Richard and Steph then joined the conversation of the first group they saw.
The way Steph clung on Richard’s arm would lead an onlooker to think that they must be in a relationship. Without embarrassing Steph, Richard tried to put a little distance between them. Unfortunately for him, he was unaware that Maya was in the party. Maya saw him with Stephanie.
Emman and Maya planned to attend the designers’ dinner party that night. However, their plan got modified with James’s surprise arrival at the fashion event. He also extended the invitation to the two to join him at their batch’s get-together party. He thought it would be a good idea to reconnect with their common friends. It was the same reunion party where Richard was that evening.
After almost thirty minutes of convincing, Maya and Emman relented to come along with him to the reunion. They intended to just drop by and then later proceed to Emman’s party. It was compromise that the three of them agreed to.
And so, Maya anticipated to see Richard at the party. She knew he would be surprised to see her there. However, she didn’t expect that she too would be surprised.
Maya’s eyes narrowed with jealousy the moment she saw Richard with a woman whose arm clung to his. They looked like they were flirting with each other. She has not yet recovered from her previous day’s jealousy with Rafi and now, she was seeing him with another woman. She wondered if he was really like that when they were not together.
Maya was teary eyed as she shifted her gaze in another direction. James noticed the change in her mood and her watery eyes.
“Beb, are you okay?” James asked Maya as he touched her shoulder. Emman was still in the parking lot attending to a call. So, it was only James and Maya who entered the host’s house. They were in the lanai leading towards the pool area.
Maya tried to hide the sadness in her eyes but it was obvious that tears were welling up in her eyes. “I’m okay James. Parang na-overwhelm lang ako sa pagpasok natin dito.” She lied.
James took out his handkerchief and dabbed her tears with it. “Ha,ha,. Iyakin ka talaga.” He then guided her towards a group on the right side of the pool area.
Richard thought he saw a familiar figure at the lanai with James Ventura while his eyes searched for Rafi. James was slightly covering the woman whom he thought was Maya. And when James moved as he took out something from his pocket, Richard recognized Maya. She was with James. Then, he saw that tender moment when James dab a handkerchief on her eyes and she smiled at him.
The pang’s of jealousy bit him again. This time, it was sharper, more painful. He decided to approach them.
“Maya!” Richard called her from behind. Her heart jumped upon hearing his voice.
She turned around and responded dryly. “Ricky.”
“Hello James.” He acknowledged James beside Maya but then focused his attention to her. “I thought you’d be in Emman’s party.” He looked serious as if angry.
“Richard, pare.” It was James who answered. “We’re just dropping by to say hello to everyone.”
“Really?” Richard tone was full of sarcasm. “Excuse us, James.” He pulled Maya aside.
“So, looks like his invitation has more weight than mine.” A tone of resentment was evident in his voice.
Maya stared at his squarely and with a cold tone remarked. “Not really. Pero, meron ka na rin namang kasama eh. So, it didn’t really matter that I declined your invitation.”
He moved close to her so he could whisper in her ear. “I don’t’ know what’s between the two of you but I’m starting to get jealous.”
She smirked and with sarcasm, replied. ‘Yeah I’m sure you are.” She saw Stephanie was already approaching them. “Your date is coming over Mr. Lim. As for me, don’t worry. As far as I know, I am still married.”
Maya walked out on Richard and joined James in the table.
~ End of Flashback~
A/N: Please read Chapter 1 and half of Chapter 2 to connect to present time.