A/N: This is a continuation to Heart’s True Desire – part 23.
The day after the couple returned from San Nicolas, they settled into a routine like
real husband and wife. They reported for work together and left for home together. At the office, they maintained a business-like demeanor but at home, they were normal couple on their honeymoon stage.
For a few days, they didn’t discuss their previous relationships as they were more focused on each other and their newly established bond. They spent late nights making love fulfilling their insatiable need for each other.
It helped that the Boracay get-together of Richard’s ex-club mates got postponed at the last minute for various reasons. Since some of their friends had a conflict with their respective schedules, they’ve decided to move it a week later. The few who wanted to push through didn’t get a chance to even land there because of the typhoon that hit the province; hence, flights got cancelled for a day.
It was fortunate that it was lean season for the resort and so, the postponement and re-scheduling didn’t have an adverse impact on their room sales. Richard and Maya chose stay in Manila and travel to Boracay the following week.
One evening, the two were in their bedroom with Maya sitting comfortably on the bed with her back on the headboard and Richard’s lying on the bed with his head resting on her lap. Maya was reading a book while Richard was watching the evening news.
Then, Maya’s phone rang. When she reached for her phone on the side table, she instantly knew it was James calling. His face was flashing on her phone screen.
“James.” She picked up the call. She felt Richard’s head move and saw him Richard look up to her to see her expression.
“Maya, how are you?” James asked from the other end. “Can we meet tomorrow?”
“I’m okay…why?” Maya asked James. She noticed Richard’s eyebrow raised as he continued staring at her.
“Wala lang. I just want to see you. Almost two weeks na tayong hindi nagkikita eh. How about lunch?” James explained.
“Ahh, meet with you? Naku, ehhh busy lang sa work. I’m not sure if I am available but I have to check with Richard, baka may lakad kami.” She looked at her husband who was shaking his head. It meant he was not agreeable to the invitation. She made a face at him while rubbing his hair with her free hand.
“Really? Andyan ba si Richard?” James sensed Maya’s hesitation. So, he immediately assumed that the two were together.
“I’ll confirm later. Mag-uusap muna kami, kasi nga baka may lakad or business meeting kami.” She repeated her answer. She was non-committal. Richard’s face turned serious as he sat up and positioned himself beside Maya. He also leaned on the headboard.
“Sige. Hope you can make it tomorrow. I just need to speak to you, as a friend, Maya…Bye” James said with a hopeful tone.
“Bye, JV.” Her last words as they ended the phone call.
The moment Maya returned her phone on the side table, Richard asked. “What was that about?”
“Si James, he was asking if I could see him tomorrow.” She told him.
“And?” He raised an eyebrow as he asked.
“And you heard what I told him, I will check with you first.” She said in a matter-of-fact tone.
“Have you told him that you are married? Have you told him about us?” He checked as he reached for her hand and clasped it with his. The pangs of jealousy was eating him up but he knew he shouldn’t.
“Yes, Ricky… he knows about us and that I love you even before this marriage has become real for us.” She disclosed to her husband. She intertwined her fingers with his.
“So, na-una pa pala siyang naka-alam na mahal mo ako bago ako. I’m not sure if I should be glad or not.” He replied as if he was hurt.
Maya stifled a giggle while she shifted her position to face him. She didn’t release their hands but instead pressed it tighter.
“Rickyyy, sinabi ko ‘yon kasi I wanted him to stop pursuing me. You know that he is interested in me, right? I had to tell him para hindi na niya ako ligawan. But, he remains to be a friend. May pinag-samahan kami as friends for many years.” She explained.
Richard was quiet for a few minutes before he spoke again. “Alright…actually my real issue is that… you are very close to him. I can’t help but get jealous.”
Maya cut him off as she suddenly hugged him. “Hon, yung ba ang issue? You have no reason to be jealous of him. I love you.” She looked straight into his eyes. “I love you very much Richard Lim.”
Richard’s lips started to curve into a smile as if pacified by her assurance. He took a deep sigh. “I’m sorry. Medyo nagseselos lang ako kasi I saw how the two of you looked at each other one time. Then, there was a time that you’d change your plans whenever you were with him. Do you know how that made me feel?”
Maya recognized the feeling as she had those jealous moments as well. So, she explained further to him. “Ricky, to be honest, at one point in the past, I really thought I was in love with him. But that was when he wasn’t married yet. When he got married, I realized that having him as a friend was much better. He did say he loves me but I told him I am very much married and very much in love with you. I may have lead him on so now medyo guilty rin ako. So, I hope you’d understand if I still talk to him.” She released their hands so she touch his face. She looked at him tenderly. “I’m telling you the truth, hon.”
‘Okay, honey…I’ll try not to get jealous. This is all boils down to trust. I love you and so I should trust you.” He kissed her forehead.
“Thank you, honey.” She kissed him on his lips. Then, it was her turn to ask him.
“So, ako nasabi ko na ang lahat about James. How about the other women in your life?”
Richard looked at her with amused expression. “What women? Plural pa talaga ang ginamit mo ha?”
“Yes, since we are here talking about other people in our lives, you might as well explain to me who Stephanie and Grace is in your life.” It was her turn to become serious.
Richard was quick to explain about Stephanie. “Steph is our consultant. Yes, she’s a bit flirty and I dated her in the past but that was before we got married. She just liked to hang around with me and I allowed her to. She knows that I am married.”
“Hmmm, so you were not serious with her?” She eyed him carefully.
“Nope, never.” He was quite firm with his response.
“So, what about this Grace? Why do you call her sugar?” Asking about Grace made her heart pound. She was aware that there was something between the two especially after meeting Grace in the hotel one time. She prayed he would be honest with her. Her fear compounded when Richard’s expression changed. It was as if he wanted to be careful on what he would tell her.
“Uhumm, Grace and I were together when I was in the U.S. Then, I returned to Manila to focus on the hotel and get what I believe is mine. Then, Lolo came up with this idea.. you know… about our arranged marriage. My taking over LHR is conditional. So, I left her in the States.” Richard disclosed.
“Ricky…we got married under a certain condition. Pero ang tanong ko ngayon, mahal mo s’ya?” She asked tentatively. She felt tiny pins pricking her chest. Why did she even ask the question, she told herself. She could have just ignored it and believed that everything was rosy between them.
Richard saw the fear in her eyes, the fear that he might say he loves another woman other than her and his own heart went out to Maya. “Honey…I love you. I may not have recognized it earlier but I have fallen for you without me realizing it. Since we got married, ikaw na lang ang nasa isip ko.” He took her hands again and held them close to his heart.
Maya didn’t seem to be satisfied because he didn’t answer her question directly so she rephrased her line of questioning. “Ang tanong ko Richard, kung mahal mo si Sugar. Bakit nag-pupunta pa sa’ya sa hotel. I still remember yung conversation sa parking lot. She said kayo pa rin.”
“Ohh yeah. Dahil nga nandito tayo and she was in the U.S., I have completely forgotten about her. I didn’t communicate with her for a while. When you repeatedly told me that our relationship is purely business, her return to Manila was just the right time for me. She has always been there for me and so I thought I could just go back to her.” He looked down and couldn’t look straight in her eyes.
“Maya, I know you might say I used her but I thought I had no chance with you and I needed to move on. I was really hurting that time especially when I saw you and James together. I was very jealous and hurt.” He looked so apologetic and Maya found herself believing him.
“Ricky… at that time, I was also hurting. It was only then I realized how much I love you and I thought I already lost you.” She countered.
They looked into each other’s eyes and knew that they were being honest with each other.
“Honey, if only we talked, sana pala nag-usap tayo noon para hindi tayo nahirapan pareho.” Richard concluded as he wrapped her his arms.
She nodded. “Tama ka. At sa tingin ko, I made a bigger contribution to our heartaches by being so stubborn and not allowing you to enter into my life completely. Sorry, honey.” She kissed his cheek.
He smiled at her and with their nose and foreheads against each. “Let’s just trust each other. Pwede?”
She nodded again. Then, she remembered to ask one more thing. “Pero, ano nga si Grace sa’yo ngayon? Have you broken up with her?”
“Ahhh, I am going to see her on Wednesday. I’ll tell her about us.” Richard told Maya. Although a part of her was unsure and afraid of what could happen next, Maya held on to Richard’s pledge of love. She needed to trust him.
The following day, Richard and Maya came to the office late. They would have been much earlier if only Richard didn’t start fooling around with her when she was about to take a shower that morning. They ended up taking a shower too long when he joined her there.
When they entered the hotel lobby, their front desk staff greeted them. There were smiles on their faces that made Maya looked puzzled.
“Ricky, bakit ganyan ang mga tingin ng mga staff?” She turned to him. They went past the front desk to proceed to the elevator area.
“What?” Richard responded with an amused smile.
“Parang ngiting-ngiti sila at kung makatingin sa atin, as if they know something.” She told him.
Richard put an arm around her as they continued walking. “Don’t mind them, nagagandahan lang siguro sa ‘yo.” He chuckled.
“Mr. Lim, please… your hand. Please remove it from my shoulder.” She warned him.
They haven’t really disclosed their relationship to their staff. She wondered how will they do it considering the scenes they have seen with her, Sugar and James. She knew they will be the topic again in their office.
“Why? Masama bang akbayan ang asawa ko?” Richard responded in a louder than normal voice that Maya cringed. They were already in front of the lift waiting for it to open.
“Ricky, ano ka ba?” She warned him again. “Kailangan pala natin planuhin ang pag-inform sa mga staff about us.”
He just chuckled. Then, the elevator door opened. “Come on Mrs. Lim.”
The moment they took the lift, Maya noticed there were already two lady hotel staff inside the elevator. They must have come the other floor and took a round trip ride. The women greeted them. “Good morning sir, good morning ma’m.”
The couple responded simultaneously. “Good morning too.” Maya was sure that the two ladies heard Richard refer to her as Mrs. Lim.
Maya got confirmation of her suspicion when one of the ladies further commented. “Congratulations po, sir and mam.”
Maya couldn’t respond but it was Richard who responded in their behalf. He was all smiles when he said. “Thank you.”