Admin Note: *Contributed Story* Please give credit and thanks to AttyMayiVR. This is a continuation to Please Be My Legal Wife – part 16.
A/N: As promised po… may next part na agad para lahat ng stories ko may double treat 🙂 🙂
At the latter part of this update, you’ll see a video link from you tube. Please, just please play it before you read on the remaining paragraphs …. It’s the best video that I could find. May konting glitch so just go on…
PREVIOUSLY on Please Be My Legal Wife – Part 16
Liza’s text: Okay, looking forward sa ipapadala mo.Thanks! Good luck, he’s on his way now!
Maya’s text: Thanks din Liza 🙂 Siguradong matutuwa ang mga bata nito, I won’t tell them na pauwi na ang daddy nila para surprise 🙂
Lim Mansion 7:15 p.m.
Table set and food served. Kare-Kare with home made bagoong on the side and toasted Chicken-Pork Adobo with Chicharon to compliment it. The Lim kids were about to start eating. Maya was putting food on Abby’s plate when she saw Richard enter the front door and walked towards them, still carrying his laptop and some folders. Out of excitement, Maya momentarily forgets the memory of last night.
Maya: Look who’s here!
Nikki / Luke: Daddy?!/Dad!
Maya: Abby, go bilis!
Abby runs to Richard to do the mano, gave him a bear hug and yummy kiss! She was followed by Nikki.Luke was just so happy. He hugged Richard so tight. Maya gave her courtesy without looking at him.
Nikki: Dad! I made it to the theatre club! Tita Maya prepared all these for a little celebration.
Richard: Congratulations Nikki! Expected naman na natin na makakapasok ka eh.
Maya: Good evening po.
Maya’s evasive eyes didn’t escape Richard. He noticed too that Abby is the one sitting to the chair nearest to his right, instead of Maya.
Richard: Hi, Maya. Thank you for all these.
Nikki: Yeah, thanks again Tita Maya.
Maya continued putting food on Abby’s plate, purposely doing it so slow to make an excuse for not looking up. She also didn’t directly respond to Richard.
Maya: Welcome. So ano, GAME! Kain na!
Richard: You go ahead. I’ll just put these in the office and wash my hands.
When Richard returned, the kids were already eating. He noticed though, that Maya was just sitting on the seat next to Abby chatting with Nikki.
Maya: So the list was posted just before club time?
Nikki: Basta when we were dismissed, nandun na po yung list, naka post na sa bulletin board. Since club day, may note rin for us to attend.
Dad! You try the Adobo, the best I’ve tasted so far! I’m sure if Lolo’s here, he will devour this!
Luke: Masarap yung Kare-Kare, the sauce is really smooth at lasang lasa yung peanuts, tignan mo si Abby, binahog talaga sa kanin nya.
Richard: Okay, I’ll eat Kare-Kare first, kasi ito talaga ang mas paborito ko. Maya, bakit hindi ka kumakain?
Without looking directly at Richard, Maya faced his direction so that the kids wouldn’t notice anything. But Richard was watching every detail of her actions.
Maya: Ah, nabusog na po kasi ako Sir sa katitikim kanina while cooking.
She immediately faced Nikki again and continued with their conversation. So Nikki, kasama na agad kayo sa first club meeting of the year?
Nikki: Yes! Pero sandali lang po yung meeting, para lang i-welcome yung new members and a little talk, kaya maaga kami naka uwi. Oh my gee! They welcomed us one by one. And when it was my turn, may intro na “and the one who will most likely get the lead role…”
Luke: Akala ko “the most maarte of all…” hahaha!
Nikki: Kuya ha! It was actually Ate Joey who said that intro!
Richard was just observing them while enjoying the feast prepared by Maya. After a while, Manang Fe came to refill the rice and bagoong.
Manang Fe: Buti naka uwi ka ng maaga Ricardo. Tamang tama, pareho pala kayo ng paboritong ulam ni Maya. Masarap ba?
Richard: Yes…really good. Masarap rin yung bagoong Manang, saan nyo binili?
Manang Fe: Si Maya lahat nag luto nyan, pati bagoong. Espesyal para kay Nikki.
Richard: Really? Wow, ang galing mo pala magluto Maya.
Maya: Thank you po Sir.
“That’s the second time” Richard said to himself with creased forehead. It felt weird hearing Maya refer to him as plain “Sir” without the “Chief” after it.
Luke: Sarap nung Kare-Kare. Pero masarap rin nga itong Adobo!
Maya: Thank you Luke. Pero mas masarap siya kainin with Chicharon. Try it! Look at Abby, enjoy na enjoy sa chicharon.
Nikki: Oh! Kaya pala may chicharon here!
Abby gave them an OK sign while chewing her food. So Luke and Nikki tried it too.
Luke/Nikki: Sarap nga! / Perfect combination!
Maya: You may want to go further, lagyan mo pa ng konting sukang Ilocos yang Adobo meat and rice bago mo isubo, heaven, promise!
Maya was putting some more food on Abby’s plate when Manang Fe spoke.
Manang Fe: Maya, bakit hindi ka kumakain?
Maya: Eh…nabusog na po ako sa katitikim kanina habang nagluluto eh. Ah…sabay na lang siguro po ako sa inyo mamya.
Richard was quick to react and said with a victorious smile “Manang Fe, tawagin nyo na po sila Sabel, sumabay na kayo sa amin. Let’s all celebrate and eat together.”
Manang Fe: Siya sige, tawagin ko sila sandali.
Ah…Maya siguro lumipat ka na lang sa tabi ni Ricardo para dito na kami tabi-tabi nila Doris.
Maya was sure that she’s not ready to rub elbows with Richard again, much more to be sitting beside him during meal. So in panic, Maya diverted the food she took for Abby to her plate and made an excuse.
Maya: Ay Manang Fe, kayo na lang sa tabi ni Sir. Hindi na po ako pwede oh, may pagkain na po ako sa plato eh…bawal po diba? Sige kayo, baka dalawa pa maging asawa ko.
“Third…” Richard said to himself again. “…and she’s still not looking at me.”
Without warning, Manang Fe took Maya’s plate together with the placemat and utensils.
Manang Fe: Tama yan KUNG naka subo ka na. Hindi pa naman eh, kaya ililipat ko na ang mga ito sa tabi ni Ricardo. Tumayo ka na diyan at si Doris na ang tatabi kay Abby. Ricardo umurong ka na at pang dalawahan naman ang upuan sa mag-kabilaang kabisera.
Richard looks at Manang Fe with his lopsided smile, showing not only his dimple but his delight and approval as well.
Richard: Sure Manang!
Maya: Manang Fe, hindi po ba dapat yung mga nakatatanda yung nasa kabisera?
Since Richard is very much aware now that Maya is trying to avoid him, he does not get a bit affected about his age or being referred to as a senior member of the family. Instead he decides to mess around with her.
Richard: Exactly Maya, dito ako at duon sa kabilang kabisera si Manang Fe. Kaya halika na dito sa tabi ko para maka kain ka na rin.
As she reached the end of the road, Maya had no choice but to bite the bullet. So, she stood up and gracefully sat on the empty space beside Richard. “Abby,magkatabi pa rin tayo oh.” she said to hide her irritation. Not satisfied though, Richard teases her some more by purposely moving closer to her, making their arms touch. When Maya moved away her left arm to get Kare-Kare, Richard followed and took the serving spoon as well, covering Maya’s left hand.
Maya: Ay! Sorry po, sige mauna na po kayo kumuha.
Optimistic that Maya will do a repeat of how she attended to his breakfast yesterday, Richard yielded.
Richard: No, go ahead Maya. Paki lagyan mo na lang din ako sa plate ko please.
Maya: Eh kayo na lang po mauna, senior first. Besides, baka sumobra po lagay ko eh.
Maya forced a smile then scooped some bagoong on her plate instead. Richard had an idea and helped himself with a grin.
Richard: Okay then.
After putting some Kare-Kare on his plate, he scooped some more and carefully served them on Maya’s plate.
Richard: Here, this is the best part of Kare-Kare, segments of the ox tail. You know, the sauce is really good! This must be your specialty.
Surprised with his gesture, Maya felt a little uneasy but happy because the tail part is what she really likes in Kare-Kare.
Maya: Thank you po.
After a little while, Manang Fe came and sat at the left side of the other kabisera, then Joma sat beside her. Doris followed and sat beside Abby while Sabel positioned herself beside Nikki.
In the middle of the dinner, torrential rain poured. In due course power outage followed. Almost everyone shrieked in surprise, including Maya “Ay! Sir Chief!” Unconsciously, she clinged to the arm of Richard making the latter smile especially after hearing her speak spontaneously.
Sabel: Waaah! Brown out! Naku, kabilugan pa naman ng buwan, tapos nasa kabundukan tayo Manang Fe!
Richard noticed that Maya tightened her grip on his arm and instinctively shoved herself closer to his body after hearing what Sabel said. He noticed too that Maya was not moving a bit while listening to the ongoing conversation.
Joma: Anu naman ngayon kung nasa kabundukan tayo, ha Sabel? Feeling mo papansinin ka ng mga multo at engkanto rito? Sila kaya matatakot sayo!
Doris: Ang yabang ng kambing na to!
Manang Fe: Magsi-tigil nga kayong tatlo! Ang iingay ninyo! Nabulabog na ang mga yun sa ingay nyo eh!
Doris/Sabel: Waaah! Manang Fe naman eh!
Manang Fe: Panay kasi kayo kalokohan diyan! Hala sige, tayo na at kuhanin ninyo ang mga lamp.
Joma: Ayan ang napapala nyo! Hahaha!
Manang Fe: Samahan mo na sila Joma para hindi na matagalan pa.
Doris: Ayun! Bilis ng karma no?! Halika na!
Sabel: Let’s go sago! Bilis! Tayo na diyan, mabibitin naman sila Sir sa pagkain.
Joma: Kailangan talaga nakayakap kayo sa akin?
Luke: Nakakatawa talaga sila. Naniniwala sa mga ganun.
Nikki: I agree!
Richard took advantage of the darkness and loud banterings of Sabel and the others. So, while it was going on, he moved closer to Maya and leaned to her left ear to tease her.
Richard: Ikaw rin Maya, ang higpit ng kapit mo dyan. Naduduwag ka rin pala despite that strong personality. Sumiksik ka pa talaga.
Coming back to her senses, Maya released her grip at once without saying anything. She moved away from Richard but the latter immediately retrieved Maya’s arm and softly said“Wait! I was just teasing. It’s okay to be scared.”
However, Maya still didn’t say a thing and jerked her arm from Richard. She stood up without warning. Impulseively, Richard pulled her back down to the chair but said her name so loud for everybody to hear.
Richard: Maya! Uhm…where are you going? Sige ka, baka may masalubong kang halimaw diyan, tangayin ka.
Nikki: Dad! You’re scaring me!
Manang Fe: Ricardo! Sumali ka pa sa kalokohan nung tatlo, pati mga bata tinatakot mo.
Richard: I was just joking around!
Luke: Joke po yun?
Maya: Hindi kasi marunong mag joke ang Daddy nyo Luke kaya corny.
Richard: Eh saan ka ba kasi pupunta, ang dilim dilim nga?
Maya: Tatabihan ko lang po sana si Abby Sir, baka natakot kina Sabel eh.
Richard: Abby, come here. Sit with us ni Tita Maya mo para hindi kayo masikip dalawa riyan sa upuan mo.
Abby did as told, forcing Maya to sit down again to welcome Abby who sat on her lap. Maya moved and purposely positioned herself near the edge of the chair to make a gap between her and Richard.
Maya: Are you scared Abby?
Abby nodded, took Maya’s arms and wrapped them around her. To close the gap between him and Maya, Richard put his right arm around her from behind and slipped his hand down to her right hip, surprising Maya “Ay!” He looked at Maya and shoved her back towards his body while saying“Don’t be scared now baby,come here closer to me, so you’ll feel more secured.”
Nikki: Aawww, so sweet of Daddy, don’t be scared now baby.
Luke: Yes Abby, andiyan na sila Ate Doris oh, may mga candle ng bitbit.
Manang Fe: Asaan ang mga emergency lamp? Ba’t panay kandila bitbit nyo?
Joma: Mga wala pong karga eh.
Richard: Since it’s already the rainy season, you better charge all of them for times like this. Now let’s go back to dinner.
Richard leaned and whispered to Abby. “Abby, baby can you go back to your seat now so you and Tita Maya can finish eating?”
Abby nodded, kissed Maya on the cheek then went back to her seat. Maya immediately moved away from Richard causing him to shake his head while chuckling.
Nikki: This is nice…it’s like were having dinner in a fancy restaurant…it’s so romantic!
Sabel: Ay! Oo nga Ma’am Nikki! Ganito pala yun?!
Joma: Alam mo Sabel, para ka palang kandila, ang ganda mo tignan sa dilim. Sana lagi na lang madilim.
Sabel: Ah ganun ha, sana kandila ka din Joma para isang ihip ko lang sa ‘yo, siguradong pat –
Maya: papalakpak lahat. Hindi ba Sabel? Naririnig ka ni Abby oh.
Sabel: Ehehe, yes Ma’am, papalakpak ng todong todo. Hindi ba Abby noh? Pag nag blow ng birthday candle pumapalakpak lahat? Saya diba?
Manang Fe: Mabuti na lang malamig ang hangin sa labas, hindi mainit kahit brown out.
Doris: Ang ginaw na nga po Manang eh, humangin pa sa labas.
Joma: At giniginaw ka talaga Doris?
Doris: Oo Joma, giniginaw ako, kasi kahit walang kuryente, nag yeyelo yang ngipin mo!
Everybody laughed, including Richard who took advantage of the moment and moved his body closer to Maya, leaning over to make it obvious to her.
Nikki: They’re so funny!
Sabel: Waaaa! Sapol ka dyan!
Doris: Nag yo-yosi ka noh?
Richard: Nag yo-yosi ka Joma?
Joma: Hindi po sir! Ikaw Doris ha, ipapahamak mo pa ako.
Sabel: Ay Sir Richard, in fairness naman, sa sobrang kape nya po nakuha yan.
Doris: Ay onga po Sir, lakas ni Joma sa kape kaya naninilaw ang mga ngipin. Siya nga po taga ubos ng kape eh.
Manang Fe: Hay naku, sana transistor radio na lang kayong tatlo.
Joma/Doris/Sabel: Po?/Bakit po?/Bakit naman po?
Manang Fe: Para isang tanggal ko lang ng baterya, mananahimik na kayo!
Maya: Hahaha! Ang cute nyo naman po Manang Fe, pati kayo humirit ng pick up line!
Sabel: Pang asar na pick up line pa! Cool na cool talaga ‘tong si Manang Fe oh.
Nikki: Eh kayo po Tita Maya, may alam rin kayong pick up line?
Maya: Oo naman!
Ricahrd: I can attest to that! Champion si Tita Maya mo humirit ng mga ganyan.
Luke: Talaga po Tita Maya? Sige nga, isang hirit naman po diyan.
Sabel: Onga po Ma’am, para madagdagan ang alam naming pick up lines.
Maya: O sige na nga, ito original pa ito ha.
Para ka palang Mighty Bond, kasi soooobrang dikit mo, ang hirap humiwalay sa iyo!
Doris: Waaaah! BFF sobrang dikit daw! Yun na, alam mo na! Nakaka kilig talaga!
Sabel: Onga BFF! Pero Ma’am Maya, bakit hiwalay naman ang gusto mo, ang sweet nga eh. Sobrang dikit, ayaw mahiwalay sayo. Kaya dapat po ganito ang linya nyo: Para ka palang Mighty Bond kasi sobrang dikit mo sa aking puso, ang hirap mo pang tanggalin sa isip ko!
Nikki: Oh my gee! That is sooo cheesy!
Luke: Okay yun Sabel ah! What about you Dad, alam mo rin bang mag pick up line?
Maya: Naman Luke, joke nga hindi marunong, pick up line pa.
Richard: Are you challenging me, Maya? Si Manang Fe nga marunong eh, ako pa. At hindi lang ikaw ang may original, yung sa akin original rin.
Nikki: Talaga Dad? This I have to hear!
Richard: You sound like you don’t believe what I said. Okay, listen to this. Para ka palang internet connection, kasi naiinis ako at umiinit ang ulo ko kapag nawawala ka…lalo na kung matagal pa.
While Maya appeared unaffected, the girls shrieked in delight.
Doris/Sabel: Ayeeee! Nakakakilig! Nikki: Eeeeeeeee! That is oh so nakakakilig!
Luke: Wow Dad, mukhang patok yan sa girls! Pwede ka ng manligaw uli.
Manang Fe: Kilig na kilig naman kayo.
Doris consciously leaned towards Manang Fe and said in private “Ow my G Manang! Yung alaga nyo, ayaw mahiwalay! Gusto lagi sila magkasama! This is it pansit!”
Excited with what her ward has become, Manang Fe joined the fun and dropped her share.
Manang Fe: Kaya ba bigla ang init ng ulo mo kagabi Ricardo? Dahil ang tagal niyang nawala?
Caught insurprise, Richard looked at Manang Fe who had a meaningful grin and raised eyebrows. But before he could react, Luke spoke, saving him from the confrontation.
Luke: Ay Dad FYI lang, hanggang ngayon wala pa rin pong internet connection. Kahapon pa nga daw po nawala.
Manang Fe:Malakas ang kidlat at kulog kahapon eh baka yun ang dahilan.
Luke: Akala po namin ni Niks, you just turned off the wi-fi when you came home early kasi nga it’s a school day. Nainis rin pala kayo kagabi?
Manang Fe:Inis na inis, hindi ba Ricardo?
Richard: Ah…don’t worry Luke, I will check with the network provider soon after the power is restored. You use it for school, so I will not cut it off just like that. I trust you guys on proper internet use.
Within seconds, power was restored to everybody’s relief.
Doris/Sabel: Haaay salamat!
Luke: Naman Niks, ang bilis nga lang eh.
Manang Fe:Nag-dilang anghel ka Ricardo.
Maya was relieved as well and finally spoke.“Tamang tama, dessert time na! Abby, let’s get it!”
Nikki: Oh this is the best part!
Maya and Abby stood up and went to the kitchen.
Manang Fe:Doris, Sabel, itabi nyo na ang mga plato at magpasok kayo dito ng mga platito. Tulungan nyo na rin sila Maya sa kusina.
Joma:Excuse me lang po, tignan ko lang po muna ang mga ilaw at pinto sa labas at sa baba, may mga nakabukas pa po kasi kanina nung nag brown out eh.
Richard:Sige Joma, ikaw na bahala. Pati na rin yung pool. Make sure that the drains are working baka mag over flow because of the rain fall.
Sabel and Doris came back carrying the mango cream pie and ultimate chocolate cake Maya and the girls baked earlier. Maya and Abby trailed behind with Abby holding a bottle of cramel syrup while Maya carried the gallon of vanilla ice cream.
Luke:Wow! Ang dami naman nyan!
Richard:San galing mga yan?
Maya ignored the question and without answering, she began slicing the mango cream pie.
Nikki: She baked them Dad. Abby and I helped. You should try them both! Grabe, ang saraaap. But try the mango cream pie first kasi sabi ni Tita Maya, it might taste different na if you eat the chocolate cake first.
Maya put a slice on one side of a dessert plate then followed it with a slice of the chocolate cake.
Nikki: Tita Maya I’ll help with the ice cream.
Maya:Sure Nikki! But let Abby put the syrup ha.
Richard focused his attention to Maya but glanced at his daughters too. Nikki put a scoop of ice cream on top of the sliced chocolate cake. Abby completed it by swirling with caramel syrup. Then Maya took the first complete dessert plate and placed it in front of Richard.
“Thank you.” Richard said while smiling at Maya. He didn’t get any response from her again. He released a sigh after Maya ignored him and proceeded with plating the other plates. Richard went on and complimented Abby “Wow Abby! Ang galing naman, you made a perfect design on top of the ice cream. Abby ran to him and hugged him tight.
Richard: So, can I go ahead of you guys and try these now?
Nikki: Sure Dad! And please do remember that Abby and I helped in making them ha.
Luke:Okay Nikki, we won’t forget that.
Richard winked at Luke then said“Ang galing galing naman mag bake ng mga babies ko! Patikim nga…”
Luke:Niks, pwede paki bilisan with the ice cream so I can have my dessert plate too?
Richard: Mmmmm…this is really good! The mangoes are perfectly sweet and the cream is just right. The crunch of the crust adds texture to it. Maya, you can make money out of this.
Nikki:Oh Dad, wait ‘til you try her chocolate cake. It’s really the ultimate one. You know your favorite chocolate cake that you always order in the restaurant? It’s no match to her chocolate cake. I swear!
Hearing Nikki reveal the information that Richard has a favorite chocolate cake made Maya apprehensive that he might not like her version. She stole glances and saw that Richard has almost consumed the mango cream pie.
Luke:Dad ang bilis ah! Parang natapon lang?
Manang Fe:Excited kasi kainin yung chocolate cake. Yan ang gusting gusto nya mula pa nung bata pa siya.
When Richard was about to taste the chocolate cake, Maya busied herself so as not to appear worried. She continued putting her creations on each dessert plate so that everyone else could eat.
Richard: Mmmmmmm….mmm…this is delectable…you’ll keep asking for more…wicked because you can’t stop…really really the ultimate one. How did you make the ganache so gooey chocolatey yet not sweet? Wow, there are even chocolate bits in the filling…mmm…it complements the vanilla ice cream and the sweetness of the caramel syrup is a nice finish…this is simply divine Maya.
Maya was very glad Richard liked her chocolate cake but pretended not to be paying attention to him. On the other hand, Richard has gotten offended by Maya’s continued disregard of him. Nevertheless, he still sought her attention and called her name so that she’ll at least look at him. “Maya…Maya…”
“Po?” She responded as if she heard him talk the first time. She looked at him and saw his disturbed facial expression.
Finally got Maya’s attention, Richard half smiled at her and spoke at once “I said your mango cream pie is really good and your chocolate cake is really the ultimate one…it’s a divine dessert.”
Maya just nods at him and said “Thank you po, Sir.” Maya hurriedly looked away. She was certain that she saw sadness in his eyes even as he smiled at her. She tried to look unaffected and invited the others while quickly glancing at him. She saw Richard looked down on his plate and heaved a sigh.
Maya: Sabel, Doris, halina kayo para mag dessert. Manang Fe ito po ang sa inyo, niliitan ko talaga ang portions para hindi kayo magreklamo.
Luke: Grabe Tita Maya, super sarap!
“Talaga Luke, masarap?! I’m so glad you liked it. Bihira kasi sa guys ang maka appreciate ng dessert eh” Maya reacted at once while smiling at Luke.
Nikki: Kuya, kasama kami ni Abby diyan.
Joma: Wow! Ang sosyal sosyal naman tignan.
Maya: Naku, nasa style lang ng paglalagay sa plate yan.
Richard frowned. This time, he was as he noted the difference on how Maya conversed with the others. It was full of life and enthusiasm, in contrast to how she responded to him. It easly confirmed that Maya was not only avoiding him. She is disregarding him as well. So, he stopped pushing his efforts in trying to make a conversation with her and instead kept quiet while finishing his dessert.
Maya noticed the sudden change in Richard’s mood. Gone were the playful tone in his voice, the teasing gestures and mischievous smiles he exhibited earlier. He suddenly became quiet and appeared very upset.
Sabel: Naku Ma’am Maya, para ka palang Smart Communications…
Nikki: Smart Communications? Why naman?
Sabel: Because she’s simply amazing! Oh ha! Bago yun ha!
Doris: Ow my G Ma’am Maya super sarap nito. It’s you na talaga! ♫Nese eyo ne♪ eng lahat♪! Para ka palang…
Luke: Alam ko na kasunod ng pick up line na yan…Kathryn Bernardo?
Doris: Hindi Sir Luke. Para ka lang SM ShoeMart Ma’am Maya, kasi you’ve got it all! Pwedeng pwede ka na mag-asawa! You’re perfect!
Maya: Hahaha! Ayan na naman kayo sa pick up lines ha. At asawa agad? Eh boyfriend nga wala pa.
Manang Fe: Bata ka pa naman eh, tapusin mo muna pag-aaral mo at tuparin ang pangarap mo. Yung mapapangasawa mo, nandiyan lang sa tabi-tabi yun. Huwag mong pakinggan ang dalawang yan. Palibhasa matatandang dalaga na eh.
Doris: Wow, Manang ha, talagang kami ang matandang dalaga?
Isabel: Parang kayo lang yun eh…may pag-asa pa kaya kami.
Joma: Asa pa talaga…
Feeling on the edge, Richard suddenly stood up.
Manang Fe: O Ricardo, ba’t bigla kang tumayo, san ka pupunta?
Richard: Magpapahangin lang po sa veranda. Magpapababa ng kinain. I’m really full.
Without looking at anyone, Richard took his water goblet then said “Excuse me everyone.”
Everyone kept mum as they watched Richard walk towards the veranda. Sabel couldn’t help but ask.
Isabel: Anyare kay Sir Richard? Biglang tumahimik?
Joma: Ingay mo kasi, lakas ng boses mo eh. Baka narindi.
Doris: BFF, parang alam ko kung bakit. Halika dito bilis! Ibubulong ko sa i –…
Nikki: Ay Ate Doris it’s rude to whisper. You have to share it with everyone.
Nikki: Anu yung alam mo?
Joma: Ayan, ang daldal kasi…yan ang napapala ng mga tsimosa.
Doris: Eh wala po, haka-haka lang naman po eh. Huwag na lang po at baka magalit po –
Nikki: No, walang magagalit. So, wnu yung alam mo?
Manang Fe: Doris, mag ingat ka sa salita mo ha.
Manang Fe knew what Doris is about to say because she also has the same idea in her mind. Doris understood why Manang Fe warned her. She became jittery and played with her hands as she tried to think of another thing to say for the satisfaction of Nikki. Maya remained silent and waited for Doris to answer.
Doris: Eh…ano po…kasi po…ano….ah! Baka po sa sobrang kabusugan sumakit ang tiyan at na-uutot! Kaya nag sungit-sungitan na lang para makasimple makalayo sa veranda.
Everyone laughed at Doris. “Naku huwag masyado malakas, baka marinig naman ni Sir, lagot ako! Doriswarned.
Nikki: That theory is so funny Ate Doris!
Luke: Hahaha! At nag sungit-sungitan pa talaga si Dad, ha Ate Doris?
Doris: “Naku naman, ulit-ulitin ba ang pangalan ko. Maka alis na nga dito. Akin na nga mga ito, ako na maghuhugas nito Sabel. Ay, Abby, kay Teacher Maya ka muna ha, tutal may bedtime story pa kayo diba? Babay!”
Doris then sped to the dirty kitchen with the dishes.
Before retiring to bed, Luke and Nikki went to the veranda to bid Richard good night.
“Good night Dad!” Nikki said as she kissed Richard. “Thank you for coming home early, it was a wonderful dinner.”
“Yes it was, Nikki. I had a wonderful time myself. But you should say thank you to Maya again. It was her idea after all. The dinner was for you.” Richard reminded Nikki.
“I know Dad…she is such an angel…she makes me happy….she makes everyone happy, especially Abby!” Nikki declared and pointed to Maya and Abby who were left alone in the dining area. “Uhm, are you feeling okay, Dad? Do you want me to prepare tea for you?” Nikki asked.
Richard: Tea? Why?
Nikki: Ah… kasi you were feeling full kanina, diba? I just thought you might want some tea to aid in the digestion?
Richard: No, I’m okay Niks.
Luke: Sige na Niks, mauna ka na sa loob so you can say thank you to Tita Maya.
Nikki: Okee-dokee! G’night Dad!
Luke went to his dad and hugged him tight. “Thank you Dad…It was really a wonderful night because you’re here with us…I hope we can do this more often…we really miss you…” Luke pulled away and said “Good night po” then kissed Richard.
Richard: Good night son, don’t worry I’ll fix my schedule.
Luke: Okay Dad. No pressure. I’m already happy with how things are going. Pero FYI lang Dad, hindi pa naman po ako matutulog at baka mabangungot po ako sa sobrang kabusugan. I’ll just be in my room papalipas muna ng oras. Baka kasi po hindi ka patulugin nung nasa isip mo eh.
Luke: Dad, what Im trying to say is, mahirap po magmukmok mag-isa…hindi ka patutulugin. So, if you need someone to talk to, I’ll just be in my room.
Richard gave a soft laugh and shook his head.
Richard: Okay son, your information is noted. By the way, I talked to the network provider just kanina. They’re looking into their system now and promised restoration of connection by tonight. So just check on it once in a while habang nagpapalipas ka ng oras. But don’t stay up late, okay?
Luke: Okay Dad, thanks po.
Luke went inside the dining area to where Maya is and kissed her. She was still talking to Nikki.
Luke: Thanks Tita Maya, it was the best family dinner after a long time.
Nikki: Yes, as I was saying, if not for your ideas and efforts, we wouldn’t have dinner like this with Dad.
Maya: Kayo talaga…sabi ko nga, kulang lang kayo ng little push. Nikki, ikaw na magsabi kay Luke ng plans for Sunday…tuloy na tuloy na yun ha.
Luke: Really? Tuloy tayo? Kasama ka siyempre Tita Maya!
Nikki: Shhhhh! Kuya naman, Dad might hear you!
Luke: Sorry naman, na excite lang. Eh di tara na sa taas so we can talk!
Nikki: Oh no, Dad is approaching! Tara na kuya bilis!
Abby tugs on Maya’s blouse, telling her that she also wants to go upstairs to her room. “Napagod ka na ano? Gusto mo na rin umakyat? Okay, let’s go.” Maya gladly said as there was another reason to avoid Richard. She swiftly turned to the direction of the stairs and took Abby’s left hand but Richard called her name.
“Maya wait…” he said softly. Maya stopped but bowed her head and checked on Abby’s back to avoid looking at Richard who went in front of her and said in a pleading voice “Can we talk?”
Maya knew what facial expression came with that pleading voice. So, she continued looking down at Abby to avoid seeing Richard’s face and answered “Naku Sir basang-basa na po ng pawis si Abby eh. She needs to change clothes.”
Richard persisted and desperately said “But we need to talk. So why don’t you let Doris do her job. You’re Abby’s tutor, not her yaya.”
When memories of Richard bellowing invectives at her flashed her mind, Maya felt pain in her heart and became more unyielding. So, she finally looked at him in the eyes and adamantly said “But Sir, I am just doing my job because I promised her a bedtime story for doing well in our hands on learning when she helped in the kitchen earlier. I want to keep and fulfill that promise Sir, so please let me do my job too.”
Richard was also hurting as he incredulously listened to what Maya was saying. As pain crushed him, he uncontrollably heaved a deep sigh. He pursed his lips and swallowed hard. He nodded once then in a conceding tone, almost whispered “Okay then, Maya…if that’s what you want.” He leaned down at Abby and kissed her on the forehead. “You were great Abby and Daddy is very proud of you…now enjoy that bedtime story with Tita Maya… Good night baby.”
Richard stood straight and looked at Maya once more without saying anything. Then, he hurriedly walked towards his home office. Maya closed her eyes and breathed deeply, inhaling the traces of his scent.
Maya purposely stayed in Abby’s room longer even after the little girl has fallen asleep to make sure she avoids Richard. She knows that her efforts to elude Richard have become obvious to him and she is not ready with his confrontation. She opened the door and took a peek of the surroundings. She crept outside, then carefully closed the door behind her. Sure that no one was around, she quickly ran down the stairs. Feeling relieved that the home office and the study were empty, she confidently walked to her room and took a shower.
Moments later, Maya kept tossing and turning, trying to fall asleep. As her attempts were futile, she sat up, took her phone and browsed the web. After a couple of minutes, she went to the kitchen to make herself a cup of warm milk.
When she came back, she turned on the TV and looked for an interesting show to watch while sipping her milk. Finding nothing, she slumped herself onto the sofa and opened a novel. “Anu ba naman, naubos na ang gatas hindi pa rin ako tamaan ng antok. Maya, para ka ng si Kung Fu Panda sa itim ng mata mo!” She looked up and thought of what else to do. “Maybe I need to unload my pent up emotions. Ah, tawagan ko si Emman.”
Maya went out of the room to take the empty cup to the kitchen before calling her best friend. However, she was lured by the sight of the baby grand piano so she went to it instead. She placed the empty cup on the console table near the piano then opened its cover, pulled the chair and began to strike the keys.
Unknown to Maya, Richard was in the kitchen, drinking water. When he heard the sound of the piano, he knew it was Maya. In a fast pace, he slithered his way to the piano area and settled himself at the lounge chair aganst the wall just outside Maya’s room. It was the better spot than the sofa at the adjacent sala. Maya would definitely sense his presence if he sits at the sofa. He listened to the song Maya was playing. He was sure that it’s Invisible War by Julia Fordham. When Maya stopped in the middle of the song, Richard froze anticipating her next move.
Seconds later, Maya started playing the theme from Love Affair. She played it beautifully and so well, anyone would feel the emotion of the song. Richard was no exception. The music moved him. It sounded so full of love and passion it put Richard in a reverie. Suddenly memories of the wonderful moments with Maya flashed in his mind. He recalled when Maya sent him coffee with sandwich and mints for his Clark trip, the time she put so much effort in endearing him to calm him down after getting upset at her summer dress, the time she made him laugh with the ant and the elephant story, the time she wiped the catsup from his mouth, and finally the time when she audaciously brought Abby to LAS and the lunch out at pancake house. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, careful not to make any sound.
Then Maya started humming the melody as she played the song in the piano. He visualized the night he became emotional after hearing Nikki sing, the moments she attended to his children’s needs, the natural high he felt when she attended to his breakfast as well, and of course, their coffee moments together at the veranda. He wanted to go near her and hold her. He stood up and walked towards her. He momentarily stops…then he walked further until he was right behind her. No longer able to hold back, he finally said her name and touched her shoulder. “Maya…”
Just like in the movie, the music ended unceremoniously with the unpleasant sound of the piano keys smacked by the hands of a very surprised Maya.