A/N: This is a continuation to Heart’s True Desire – part 20.
“Maya, Oh my gee! Ganoon?” Emman blurted when Maya told him what happened to her the previous day.
“Shhhhh. Sobra ka naman maka react.” She asked her friend to keep quiet because some customer on the other tables looked at them when Emman exclaimed.
They were in a restaurant in Ortigas Center where Emman works. Richard had given Maya a day off so she could recoup on her lost sleep but instead of sleeping, she decided to invite her friend to go out. She needed someone to talk to and it was only Emman whom she could trust and knew her whole story.
“So ano? Anong plano mo?” Emman asked his friend. She confided in him that Richard was already seeing other women.
“Hindi ko alam. Pero one thing for sure, Emman, it hurt when I saw him with Stephanie and this new other woman. I don’t even know her name. Tapos hindi pa siya umuwi ng dalawang gabi.” She was teary eyed as she shared more details with Emman.
“Ayan na nga ba ang sinasabi ko eh. I told you mag-usap kayo. Hinintay mo pa talagang umabot sa ganyan para lang ma-realize mo na mahal mo yung tao.” Emman shook his head.
“Emman naman, ‘wag mo na akong sisihin. I just need a shoulder to cry on right now.” Her tears started to fall. Emman’s heart went to his friend.
“Girl, I think may natitirang pang feelings ‘yon sa’yo. Hindi naman ganoon kadali yung mawala. Sabi mo nga, it felt like he was courting you tapos tinanong ka pa niya if there’s a chance for the two of you.” He tried cheer her up.
“Oo nga. Tapos, I think I told him indirectly that there wasn’t. Kasi after that, he said he won’t bother me again. Yun ang naging umpisa. He started going out with other women. Yung ang dahilan kung bakit ako nagkanda puyat puyat at nauntog sa office.”
“Ha,ha,ha. Ang mga babae talaga. Ako, Maya, girl din naman ako. Pero hindi ako pakipot. Pag gusto ko, go ako. I don’t want to regret later on.” Although sympathetic, Emman couldn’t help but find something in her situation funny. He thought she must be going crazy.
Maya glared at him. “Emmanuel!!”
“Ooopps. Sorry po.” He apologized as he stifled a laugh. “Anyway, are you sure love mo na ‘yang Papa Ricky mo?”
Maya just stared at him and then she looked down. Tears fell from her eyes.
“Okay ‘wag mo ng sagutin dahil alam ko na ang sagot. Sigurado ka na ba talaga at si James, paano?” Emman asked. He was aware of the latest development between James and his wife. Maya had also confided to him about James.
“Last night, I told James about my marriage with Richard. Nakita kasi n’ya yung wedding ring namin kahapon ng nasa hospital ako.” She shared while her finger circled her wedding ring.
“Talaga, so anong sabi?” Emman was excited. His friend’s love story was getting more complicated he thought.
“Well, he felt that the situation makes us even. He thinks there is hope for us. The problem is he still holds on to the belief that I still like him. Na sense naman daw niya before that I liked him but I kept my distance because he is married.”
“Oh my, oh my. Magulo yan. Hindi mo ba sinabi na you’re in love with Richard?” Emman leaned forward with greater interest in her story.
“Yes. But he said that it is probably because I live and work with Richard so I am confused. Okay lang naman sa kanya if I have a crush on Ricky. Ma-oo-overcome ko naman daw ‘yon, like what happened during college days.” She continued.
“Bakit na-overcome mo nga ba?” Emman’s eyebrows arched.
“Uhmm, Oo. Pero nag-relapse eh.” She smiled weakly. “Emman, I hate this feeling. James is my least concern now. Pero si Richard, girl, what do I do?” There was desperation in her tone.
“Hmpp! Tinanong mo ako, are you sure you will follow my advise? At saka, bakit ka naging ganyan? Noong araw naman ang lakas ng loob mong mang-stalk kay Richard tapos ngayon di mo alam ang gagawin mo? I think you know what you have to do, napapakipot ka lang.” Emman scolded her.
“Emman naman. Can you give me an advise? Sige na, please.” Maya requested again.
“Okay, I have a recommendation. However, this will require courage, confidence and conviction.” Emman’s eyes twinkled.
“What is it?” Maya got curious.
“Hmmm, what is one thing that you don’t like about Richard?” He asked.
“Uhhm, may pagka playboy. He flirts a lot.” She declared. It was an easy question. It was the reason why she had been very careful with him.
“Bingo! Then, play his game. If his weakness is women, why can’t you be the woman that he’d go crazy with.” Emman suggested with a wide grin on his face.
Maya’s face turned red. “Emman, anong klaseng suggestion ‘yan.”
“Hayy, naku girl. Iyan muna ang first step. Once you get his attention back, saka ka na lang uli magpa cute-cute, pa manang-manang diyan. Minsan girl, seduction works! Remember how he can’t get his hands off you sa club last time. Extreme situation require extreme intervention.” Emman’s laughter reverberated the restaurant to Maya’s consternation.
Richard arrived home and immediately noticed the smell of food coming from the kitchen. Out of curiosity, he went there.
He found Maya cooking and when she saw him, she smiled at him.
“Good evening Ricky. Kumain ka na? I’m almost done with this kare-kare.” She told him excitedly. She recited an old saying in her mind, the fastest way to a man’s heart is thru his stomach. She was still unsure whether to follow Emman’s advise but for now, she will test the water.
“Hi. Yes, I had dinner out. So, it seems you are okay. Did you sleep well?” He commented as he took water from their fridge.
Maya’s heart sank when he said he had already eaten. However, she tried to keep her spirits up. “Medyo naka pag pahinga naman ako. Then, I went out with Emman kanina.”
“Good for you then. O sige, I’m going in. I’m tired.” He walkeds towards the door leading to the living room.
“Okay, goodnight Ricky. Ipagtitira na lang kita nitong kare-kare for breakfast tomorrow.” She glanced at him. It was enough that she got a glimpse of his face that evening. She looked forward to seeing him the whole day and spending dinner with him. Unfortunately, she didn’t get the chance.
“Thank you. Good night, Maya.” He finally left her in the kitchen.
It must be the heat coming from the pot, but Maya felt her eyes started to get misty.
The following day, Maya woke up alone in their condo unit. When she checked the dining table and the kitchen, she found out that Richard didn’t eat breakfast. The dish she cooked was still in the refrigerator. If in the previous night, her eyes only got misty, that morning, she cried.
“Ms Maya” An excited Mica greeted Maya as she entered their office. “Okay ka na.”
“Good morning Mica. Yes, thank you. I am well.” She sat on her chair and noticed a pile of documents waiting on her incoming tray.
Then, she remembered the package she brought. “Mica, nagluto pala ako kagabi ng kare-kare. I brought some, baka gusto mong matikman. Wala kasing kakain sa bahay, baka masayang.” She offered. She decided to bring her dish to the office but she left a small portion for Richard. She still hoped he would try it.
“Ayyy, thank you, Ma’m. Ang generous mo talaga.” Mica accepted the brown bag that Maya gave her.
“Alam mo Ma’m, ikaw at si Sir Richard ang flavor of the week.” Mica’s tone would have anyone get interested in her story. Maya knew the meaning of flavor of the week in their hotel, it means they are the main topic of employees that week. Every week, there are situations or events that people talk about a lot.
“Mica, anong tsismis naman ‘yan.” She turned serious and momentarily stopped flipping thru the documents in front of her.
“Hindi tsismis. Napag-usapan lang ‘yung pag collapse mo and then si Sir Richard pa talaga ang nagdala sa’yo sa hospital. Sabi nila, napatakbo siya ng malamang hinimatay ka. Tapos kinuha ka niya kay Aries. Sinabihan niya si Aries na siya mismo ang magdadala sa’yo sa hospital.”
Maya’s eyes narrowed as she listened to Mica. It was as if her secretary was implying something. “So, eh ano ngayon. Syempre boss ko siya, he would be concerned.” She tried to justify Richard’s action.
“Well, may point ka diyan, ma’m. Pero, first time lang kasi na nakita yung sobrang concern niya sa employee. Iniwan pa nga niya yung girlfriend niya.” Mica continued with her story. “Tapos, ng nasa hospital kayo, tinawagan ako ni Sir. Tinanong ako kung ano ang pinagkakabisihan mo rito sa office. Sabi ko, the usual, mga operations issues.”
Upon hearing the complete story from Mica, Maya couldn’t make out on why Richard acted that way. She thought he probably felt obligated to take care of her being his employer. However, he gave her last name as Lim. Maybe there was a meaning to it. But then again, he left her with James. She didn’t even see any slight emotion of concern from him. Even the previous night, he acted quite civil with her.
In the end, she gave up trying to understand him. It felt like she was going in circles. She didn’t want to raise her own hope. At it was, her heart was still in pain over the love she may have lost.
At around 4 p.m., Richard came into her room unannounced.
“Maya, are you in talking to someone?” He asked.
“Huh, wala, bakit?
“Tumawag ang Papa mo. Anyway, here let’s call him. Gusto daw tayong maka-usap na dalawa.” He pressed the phone number of his father in law.
When the phone was answered, Richard put it on speaker mode.
“Richard, Maya.” Papa Arturo called them.
“Pa.” Richard and Maya responded simultaneously.
“Buti at naka-usap ko kayo. Umuwi nga kayo sa San Nicolas this weekend. Simula ng kinasal kayo, hindi pa kayo umuwi dito. Nagtatampo na ang Mamang n’yo. Nakalimutan n’yo na raw siya.”
Richard and Maya looked at each other. He signaled for her to answer his father’s request.
“Papa, busy lang po talaga kami sa trabaho. Anyway, sige po, uuwi kami this weekend.” She declared.
Richard’s eyes widened as if he was surprised by her decision. And when they disconnected the call, he let her know her concerns.
“Maya, are you sure you want to go home with me in San Nicolas?” Richard clarified with her.
“Yes, ayokong magtampo si Mamang.” She replied in a matter-of-fact tone.
“You know that when we are there we will have to share a room, right?” He clarified again.
It was a scenario that Maya forgot but something she now doesn’t mind. “Huh, Oo nga ‘noh…. Hmmm, pero we’ve done it the past. I think we can survive it.” She declared positively.
“Well, I am okay with it. However, I have to check on my calendar if I am available this weekend. I think I have something personal to attend to.” He told her.
“If you are not free, then just tell me. Pwede naman re-schedule ang pag-uwi sa San Nicolas. Or, ako naman muna ang uuwi.” She replied while trying to hide the hurt she was feeling. She had a suspicion about his personal appointment over the weekend.
“Alright, I’ll let you know then.” He left her in her room.
At 6 p.m., Maya found herself sharing the elevator with Richard on the way to the parking lot. She smiled at him as she asked.
“Pauwi ka na rin?”
“Ahh, yes, parang ganoon na nga. Work’s done.” He returned her smile.
They were quiet for the rest of the ride and until the elevator door opened.
“So, how is James. I mean you and James, kumusta kayo.” He suddenly asked as they stepped out of the lift.
“James is okay. We’re okay, I guess.” She replied. She saw his eyebrows furrowed.
While they walked towards the driveway where their cars were parked, red car suddenly stopped beside them.
Richard stopped and walked towards the driver’s door. With a smile on his face, he opened it. The woman, whom Maya saw the other day, emerged from the car.
“Hi babe.” She kissed his cheek.
“Hi, why are you here? I thought I was going to fetch you.” He held the other woman’s hand.
“Well, ako na lang. It’s the least I can do. Bumabawi lang sa mga months that I was away.” She responded as she traced her fingers on Richard’s collarbone.
Maya was glued to where she was standing feeling out of place. Her heart was bleeding as she watched them. She hoped it wouldn’t be too obvious. Richard seemed to have remembered her because he finally introduced the two.
“Ahh, Maya. I’d like to introduce you to Susan Grace Chua. Sugar, this is Maya.”
The other woman’s eyes grew big as if something dawned on her. “Hi, please call me Grace. So, it is you who married Richard.”
Maya tried to smile although she was also surprised why Grace made that comment. “You know that we got married?”
Grace chuckled. “Yes, dear. Sinabi niya sa akin months ago that he was going to get married and it was an arranged one. So, apparently the two of you struck a deal. How are things going for you?”
It felt strange talking to a stranger about her relationship with Richard and more so with the woman who appeared to be another Richard’s girlfriend.
“We are fine. We manage; it is just like work.” She responded coldly. She couldn’t tell them that it felt like she was dying just seeing them together.
“Good then. At least I am assured that he won’t stray away from me. We should become good friends Maya, I need you to keep an eye on this guy.” Grace wrapped her arms around Richard. Richard on the other hand maintained a smile on his face.
“Hey, we better get going. Ma-traffic sa labas.” Richard motioned Grace to enter her car while he walked around to take the passenger seat beside her. “Maya, see you tomorrow.”
Maya’s tears were streaming down her face as she saw them drive away. If she thought the pain the other day was unbearable, that evening was the worst she ever felt. Her heart was torn to pieces. He has moved on and how else can she take him.
Then, her phone beeped for an incoming message. When she checked her phone, there was a message from Richard.
“I can’t make it this weekend.”
With tears blinding her eyes, she texted back. “Okay. I’ll tell Papa.”