The Guardian Angel – part 3

A/N: This is a continuation to The Guardian Angel – part 2.

 

Author: princemackaroo

 

~*~

 

Richard brought Maya to his condo unit as soon as she was discharged from the hospital. While confined, he closely monitored her progress alongside with his bestfriend Ryan, who has a background in psychiatry. Though Maya did not really sustain any physical injuries, both Richard and Ryan suspected that she might have experienced trauma that caused for her brain to shut off her memories, effectively giving her amnesia.

Ryan had initially offered shelter for Maya, reasoned that he can take better care of her and regularly check on her development but Richard refused. Though he knows that Ryan has nothing but Maya’s best interest in mind, he simply can’t let himself trust her just to anyone else, not even to his closest and most trusted friend. If indeed Maya was the very same guardian angel he had back when he was still a child, then by all means, he needed to know what exactly happened to her.

Richard had just helped Maya to bed, willing her to rest. “Dito ka muna hangga’t hindi pa bumabalik ang memories mo. You still can’t remember anything don’t you?” Maya, bowing down, simply shook her head. Richard smiled sympathetically at her and held her hand. “It’s okay. Things like these usually take time. One day, maaalala mo rin ang lahat. But for now, magandang magpahinga ka muna.”

Maya nodded her head. She looked up and saw the sincerity in his eyes. “Thank you,” she muttered and after a few seconds, smiled.

Snippets of memories he had with her before flashed before his eyes. And before he could even control himself, he moved closer to her, pulled her in his arms and hugged her tight. “I’m so glad you came back for me. I knew you were real. I always believed.” He closed his eyes, relieved that the angel he knew he had when he was a kid was real, that she wasn’t something conjured up by his imagination. “I missed you Maya. I missed you so much.” His yearning came out spontaneously that he had no time to process everything he does and says.

“Richard.”

Her voice filled with much uncertainty pulled him out of his stupor. He immediately pulled back and offered an apologetic smile. “I – I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to. . .”

“I understand,” she replied in a less-sympathetic manner. “Gusto ko lang munang magpahinga.”

‘O – of course. Of course.” He tried his best to sound casual and shrug off the sense of awkwardness that starts to invade them. “I’ll just be outside if you need anything. Don’t hesitate to approach me.” She simply gave him a nod. “Right.” He gave her another smile before getting up on his feet and walking out of the bedroom.

As Richard closed the door behind him, he cannot help but smile. He walked towards his own bedroom and lay down on his bed. With his hands at the back of his head, he started blankly into space and remembered snippets of the moments that he and Maya shared together. He may no longer remember everything they shared together but one thing is for sure, she was someone that he has never forgotten. At a very young age, he had come to learn what it is like to fall in love. Maybe it wasn’t love after all, maybe it was only infatuation. But seeing her again after all these years, he’s never been more certain. She always had a special place in his heart that no one else has ever gone close.

He reminisced every single moment that his mind remembers until it went back to the last day he ever saw her.

His tears could not stop from flowing as Maya had just told him that she already had to leave for good. “But I will never see you again, right?”

She nodded her head in confirmation. “You may never see me again, but I will always be here.” She lifted her hand and placed it on his left chest, to where his heart is.

With his small little hand, he placed it on her left chest. “Will I always be here as well?”

“Always.”

He never really understood what she meant. All along he thought that having her in his heart was already enough, but he was wrong. As days went by, he started to grow weary and in constant yearning for her presence and company. He starts to miss her so badly that he usually cries himself to sleep at night and call out her name.

His parents tried to comfort him until they grew tired of it all. They had him be checked by a psychologist and that’s when they started instilling in his mind that everything that happened isn’t real but are just things made up by his imagination. He tried to fight it off at first and stick to what he believed in until later on, he found himself getting confused and no longer knows what to believe in anymore. He eventually let himself believe whatever truth they wanted him to believe.

As he grew older, he became better and lived a normal life. He graduated from college, pursued a medical degree, dated a couple of women until he met Alex. Meeting Alex reminded him of someone in his past. A past that he wasn’t even sure ever existed. He loved Alex until the cheating happened. And when he thought that everything is going to crumble down, his savior came. His Maya came back.

Seeing her once again, proved everything he held on dearly to be true. The sight of her made his heart ache that nobody ever did. And that’s when everything had been clear, everything she said that night, she indeed, will always be in his heart.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

It was already dinner time but Maya still hadn’t gotten out of her room. Making sure that the table is already set, Richard walked back to her bedroom. “Maya?” He tried knocking on the door but when no response is heard, he decided to open the door.

“Maya?” He peeked through the small gap and noticed that no light had been opened yet. He tried to call her again but when no response was made, he let himself in. As he was walking towards her bed, he noticed Maya slightly tossing on her bed, moaning and slightly restless. He immediately approached her, deducing that she was having a dream. “Maya! Maya!” He tried to shake her to wake her up.

She stopped in her movements and opened her eyes, looking blankly into space. It took her a couple of seconds to register where she was and when she looked on her right, she saw Richard, worriedly staring at her. “Richard?”

“Yes it’s me.” He took her hand and gently caressed her face. “Are you alright?”

“Yes. May napanaginipan lang ako,” she said in a soft voice.

“Do you still remember it? Your dream?”

Maya nodded her head. “There’s. . There’s a boy,” she started and played the dream inside of her head. “I was in his bedroom.. Putting him to sleep.”

“Do you know his name?” he asked, curious to know the details of her dream.

“No. But. . I felt a certain kind of connection with him. I don’t know. I just can’t explain it.” She started staring into space once more. “Para kasing. . I know him at malapit talaga siya sa akin.”

Richard felt his chest tighten. Though he doesn’t know who exactly she dreamt about, he cannot help but be jealous over the fact that Maya felt a certain kind of connection for the boy she just dreamt.

“Tingin mo ba may kinalaman siya sa nakaraan ko?” she asked, looking closely at Richard.

“It’s really hard to tell. Is this the first time you’ve had this kind of dream?”

She thought back. “Yes.”

Richard nodded his head and starts to give her the possibilities. “That boy could’ve been someone from your past or it could also just be a random dream,” he said. Though he wanted Maya to regain her memories back, he was also hoping that whatever it is she dreamt is just something random. “We can discuss it with Ryan tomorrow. He might be able to interpret it better for you.”

Maya gave him a nod and smiled.

“I’ve made dinner for us. Tara sa labas para makakain na tayo.”

Together they went out of the bedroom and walked towards the dining room. Richard assisted Maya in her seat and settled himself beside her. He led a prayer of thanks before placing portions of food onto Maya’s plate.

“Okay lang if hindi ka nasasarapan sa luto ko. I have fruits in the fridge if –“

“No it’s okay. Masarap naman siya eh,” she said truthfully.

“Ang tahimik mo lang kasi. I was already getting worried that you don’t like what I cooked,” he reasoned with a smile.

Maya smiled back. “Ikaw lang ba mag-isa ang nakatira dito?”

Richard nodded his head. “My parents are living in China. Mas gusto kasi ni Papa na mag-settle doon. But I prefer staying here. Dito kasi ako lumaki sa Philippines.”

“Hindi ba sila magagalit pag nalaman nilang nagpapatira ka ng taong hindi mo naman kakilala?”

Richard let out a chuckle. “I’m sure they won’t. Besides, I’m already old enough to make decisions for myself.” He wanted to stress out that he really knows her but forced himself not to, worrying that it may make things awkward again.

“Ikaw?” she asked. “I know you’ve already told me that you knew me from before, pero sabi mo nga bata ka pa noon? How can you be so sure na ako nga yun?”

Richard contemplated for an answer. “I just know. I can never be mistaken.”

“But how is that even possible?” she asked in an incredulous manner. “For sure marami nang nagbago lalo na sa physical appearance ko. But how can you be so sure na ako nga yung nakilala mo ng mga bata pa tayo?”

“Because you never changed.”

“I didn’t what?”

Richard took a deep breath. “I’ve known you all my childhood life. I guess ever since I was born you were already there for me.” He looked at Maya and said, “You were my guardian angel Maya.”

Maya simply looked curiously at him, unable to immediately process his words.

“It may seem hard to believe. Kahit nga ang parents ko hindi naniwala sa akin.” He bowed his head down and smirked. “After you left, I was so lonely, especially after everyone told me that you are not real, na imahinasyon lang kita. And I believed them. As time went by, I let myself believe them.” And with a sigh, “I just accepted the fact that you were just something made up by my imagination.”

He turned and looked at Maya once more. “But after seeing you again. . .” he said and smiled. “I knew then that those memories are not made up. That you are not made up. That you are real.”

Maya still had no words to say. Richard took her hand and held it firmly with both of his and looked deeply in her eyes. “You were my guardian angel Maya. You were the first girl that I loved. And we made a promise to each other that we will never forget each other.”

Maya pulled her hand away and starts to look at him warily and with a sense of panic. “Just stop. Please, just stop.” She averted her gaze and looked away.

“Maya.” He watched her closely and noticed her anxiousness. “I’m telling you the truth.”

“This is a mistake Richard. Hindi mo ako dapat dinala dito sa bahay mo.”

“But you have nowhere else to go.”

“I know there’s some place I can stay aside from here,” she said. “This is wrong. This is all wrong.” Her heart raced at the possibility that Richard is losing his sanity. “Hindi ko alam kung ano ang nangyari sa’yo noon o kung ano ang binabalak mo. Pero imposible ang sinasabi mo Richard. Hindi ako isang anghel.”

“But you are! You are Maya. You may not remember it now but I assure you. You are the guardian angel that I used to have.”

“Richard please,” she pleaded. “This is insane. I may have lost my memory but I haven’t lost my mind! Hindi ako isang anghel!” she pointed out.

“But –“

“Richard please!”

Richard fell silent. He could only stare at her, stunned with her reaction and obey her request. Sadness starts to fill him as he realized that she cannot only remember him but she also thinks like everyone else who did not believe him. “I – I’m sorry.”

A moment of silence ensued as not one of them dared to speak up first. Then Maya took a deep breath and spoke. “Kailangan kong maghanap ng ibang matitirhan. I clearly cannot live here.”

Panic started to strike him. “No. Hindi mo kailangang lumipat pa. I told you, you can stay here.”

“I clearly can’t.” She faced him and looked in his eyes. “You are a doctor Richard. Ikaw ang mas nakakaalam kung ano ang makakabuti para sa iyo.”

“But I’m fine. I’m okay,” he said. “You’re the one who needs to be helped and looked at and I can do those.” He tried to reach for her once more. “I can help you and I can look after you.”

“This won’t work Richard.”

“It will. Trust me, it will.”

“I don’t think I can trust you in that matter,” she said flatly.

Richard’s heart sank. If she cannot trust him, then there’s nothing more left for him to try. He bowed his head down and closed his eyes. “I understand.” He looked at her with sadness but still managed to give her a reassuring smile. “I’ll. . I’ll arrange something for you then. I’ll talk to Ryan and see if his offer’s still up.”

Maya heaved out a sigh. The idea that she will only be transferred to one of his friends does not appeal to her much but she also knows that she doesn’t have much of a choice. She then realized that being with his friend is better than being around him. “Okay then. Thank you.”

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

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The Guardian Angel – part 2

A/N: This is a continuation to The Guardian Angel – part 1.

 

Author: princemackaroo

 

~*~

 

Richard drove around the city wanting to free his heart from the hurt and betrayal he was experiencing, but it was to no avail. His mind kept going back to the scene he had witnessed in his very own bedroom. His fiancée in the arms of not just another man, but one of his best pals, James Ventura. His grip on the steering wheel tightened further at the thought of their betrayal.

As he was driving, he spotted a bar that had just opened up for the day. He pulled his car over and drove to the parking lot. Within minutes, he was already settled inside and ordering himself a bottle of scotch.

Maya could only watch him from afar. She had already meddled too much and stayed longer around than she should. The rules are clear. She can only look after the child she was assigned to and once time is already up, she needs to go back home to report and possibly accept her new assignment. But seeing Richard again made her lose any sense of order or responsibility. She was too caught up in the moment that the only thing she wanted to do is watch him and know that he’ll eventually be okay.

For years, she had tried to get over him. And just as when she thought she really had, the unexpected turn of seeing him again proved only one thing, she has never really forgotten him. Funny how a single boy stood out from the thousands of children she had looked after over the centuries. But Richard had been special. From the moment she laid her eyes on him, she knew he was different.

“You made me a fool Alex. You made me a fool.” Richard nursed the glass in his hand. He raised it and watched the amber liquid swirl inside it. He tipped it on his lips and swallowed its content in one go. He grabbed the bottle and started pouring himself another half-full.

“Of all people. Kailangan pa talaga sa mismong kaibigan ko.” He let out a smirk before drinking his scotch. The routine went on and on until his bottle is almost empty.

“I yilly thought. .hik. .you were like my gajan a – angel. Hik. .” He shook his head and had another gulp of his drink. “Shino ba naman kashing may shabe na tso-tsoo ang gajan angel? Tsanga ka tsalaga Richard. And you even call yourshelf a doctor! Pathetic!”

He tipped and emptied his bottle on his glass. He finished everything in one gulp and when he tried to pour himself some more, nothing came out from the bottle. He peeked through the hole and slammed it on the countertop after being convinced that it indeed is already empty. He started calling for the bartender and demanded for another bottle but deeming his drunken state, the bartender refused to give him another. Richard persisted some more but the bartender stood his ground. In the end, Richard gave up altogether and decided to take his leave.

Maya watched him as he swayed towards his car. He opened the door and fought hard to lock his seatbelt in place. A few more seconds had passed and the sound of his car’s engine roared. He stepped on the accelerator and made his way out to the highway.

Maya settled on the passenger’s seat. She looked at Richard with concern and worry in her eyes. She watched him closely as he try his best to focus his hazy alcohol filled eyes. She knows she can’t do anything for him at the moment so she just helplessly watched him on the side. A couple of minutes more and she saw tears welling up his eyes.

“Richard. . .”

He tried wiping off the tears. He lifted one of his hands from the steering wheel and recklessly rubbed his eyes but it only clouded his vision further. He rubbed them insistently and closed his eyes longer. The next moment he knew, loud honking sound is heard upfront. Instinct took over him. He maneuvered his car and took a full turn of his steering wheel to the right. He tried to decelerate but it’s already too late. He lost control of his car until it slammed onto the side concrete barrier of a bridge. His car flew over the edge and dove into the river. The airbag burst open slamming his face onto it that left him unconscious. Blood started to gush out from his nose while water starts to seep inside his vehicle.

“Richard!” Seeing him unconscious had Maya in frenzy. She tried to fight off the urge to help him and follow their policies but the thought that he may not wake up in time, troubled her greatly. Images of her time with him when he was still a child flashed before her. Their happy and sweet memories together that can never be forgotten.

“Shino ba naman kashing may shabe na tso-tsoo ang gajan angel? Tsanga ka tsalaga Richard. And you even call yourshelf a doctor! Pathetic!”

She remembered him muttering those words earlier. Throwing all sense of rationality aside, she let her impulse take over and helped Richard out of the vehicle. She swam him back to shore where she tried waking him up.

His head throbbed in pain and his mind swirled restlessly. He slowly opened his eyes and hazily stared at the figure looming over him. Her bambi eyes struck him the way they did the very first time he laid eyes on them. “Maya?” He saw a glimpse of her smile before he drifted back to unconsciousness.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

“Where have you been? You should’ve been back hours ago to report.” The senior angel Zenaida asked Maya as soon as she went back to heaven.

“I’m sorry. I had some place else to go,” she admitted sheepishly, unable to look at her superior’s eyes.

“You know the rules Maya. We can’t simply neglect the duties assigned to us without asking permission from Father,” Zenaida reminded kindly. She let out a sigh and informed Maya that she was being summoned. “Father wanted to speak with you.”

Maya could only close her eyes. She already saw it coming and had already tried to brace herself for the things to come. She nodded her head and made her way to the garden where Father was. Feeling contrite for her actions, she bowed her head down as she approached him.

“Maya.”

“Father.”

“Why do I feel your deep sense of fear?” he asked.

“I’m sorry Father! I’m sorry!!” She started to sob as she recalled how she defied heaven’s rules and orders. “I acted on impulse again and meddled with the affairs of a man.”

Father simply looked at her kindly and smiled. “Did you now? In what way did you meddle with him?”

“I. .” She took a deep breath to calm herself down. “First, I tried to stop him from hurting anyone. And the next thing I knew, I was already helping him out of his car so he would not be left to die. I’m sorry Father! I really am!” sobbed Maya.

“Are you sorry for helping him?” Father prodded on.

“No,” she answered softly. “But I am sorry for defying your wishes.”

“What is it that you know about what I wish?” Father watched her and waited for an answer but she gave none. “I wished to be obeyed and trusted Maya. I only want my children to trust me with all their hearts and minds. Believe that I know what is best for them and that I will only give them what’s best for them.”

His words struck her to the recesses of her heart. As an angel, she should have known better than to act on impulse. Instead, she acted on her own accord without praying and asking for guidance from her Father. “I’m sorry.”

“No sin can be left unforgiven especially if you seek forgiveness with a remorseful and humble heart,” he said. “But every action has its own consequences.”

Maya closed her eyes and humbly accepted whatever consequence is found fit for her actions.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

A week had already passed since the accident. Richard was still in the hospital though he only incurred minor concussion on his head and a twisted ankle. Thanks to the seatbelt strapped securely around him and the safety features his car had, he did not suffer any major injuries.

He was deep in his thoughts when the door opened and in came Alex with a basket of fruits at hand. “Hi babe!” she greeted enthusiastically.

“What are you doing here?” he asked sternly.

“I’m here to visit you. Look I brought some fruits for you.”

Richard closed his eyes and took some calming breaths to control any sudden outburst of emotion. “Alex look, I’ve already made it clear the last time. It’s already over between us.”

Alex looked at him with alarm. “Babe, you’ve got to understand. You’ve just been through something traumatic. I know this is not easy for you and –“

“Seeing my fiancée having sex with one of my best friends can really be very traumatic, don’t you think?” he asked sarcastically.

“Babe I already told you, hindi namin sinadya ang mga nangyari.” She walked towards him and tried to hold his hand but Richard simply yanked it away. “Wala kaming relasyon ni James. Things just got out of hand and before we know it. . .” she paused as her eyes started to get watery. “It just happened Richard but we never meant any of it!” Her tears started to fall down her face as she regrets every single thing that happened.

“Things don’t just happen Alex. It would never have started if either one of you went against it,” he said. Alex could only answer him with her cries. He heaved out a sigh and continued on. “Please Alex. For both our sakes, just leave.”

“Pero Richard –“

“Please,” he insisted. “If you still have some self-respect, just leave.”

Alex straightened up but still the tears won’t stop. “I’ll leave Richard. But I won’t give up on you. I won’t stop until you forgive me.” With much hesitation, she turned her back on him and went out of the room.

Richard sighed in relief and not for long, found himself pre-occupied by another being. He reached out for his crutches and went to the room next door. He approached the bed where an unconscious woman was lying. He sat on the edge and held her hand. All his worries and troubles suddenly forgotten and a smile appeared on his lips. He watched the woman sleep when all of a sudden, her eyes started fluttering and her lids slowly opened. She looked around, trying to register everything around her.

“Maya? Finally you’re awake!” Richard beamed at her and waited for her to respond.

“Nasaan ako?”

Richard’s heart brimmed with gladness as he started to hear the same exact voice he had etched on his mind. “You’re in a hospital,” he said. “You came back. You actually came back!”

She trained her eyes on him and looked at him curiously. Her brows started to furrow as she tries to recognize the man in front of her. “Sino ka?”

Richard grinned proudly at her. “It’s me, Richard! I’m the one you looked after when I was still a kid.” He waited until she recalls and recognizes who he was but it never came. She just continued to look at him blankly. “Hindi mo na ba ako naaalala? Ako yung batang inalagaan mo Twenty-five years ago!”

“Hindi. . . Hindi kita naaalala. Wala akong naaalala.” She looked around some more and tried to think a couple of things that she can remember, but she can’t remember even a single thing. “Wala akong maalala.”

Richard frowned and worriedly looked at her.

“Si – sino ba ako? A – ano ba ang pangalan ko?” she finally asked.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The Guardian Angel – part 1

A/N: This is a continuation to The Guardian Angel – Prologue.

 

Author: princemackaroo

 

~*~

 

Elle, together with her father Edmund, sat at the waiting lounge. She and her mother Susie were on their way to Megamall in Ortigas when an over-speeding bus unceremoniously cut them out causing Susie to lose control over their car and slam it against a post. Elle miraculously survived the crash and much to everyone’s bewilderment, unscathed. Unfortunately, the same could not be said of her mother. She suffered a severe head trauma, a couple of broken ribs, and broken left femur and right fibula. Her chances of survival are very minimal.

I was standing at one corner, watching Elle sleep in her father’s arms. She looked so peaceful, oblivious of everything that’s happening around her.

“Everything will be okay Elle. Mommy will be okay,” Edmund whispered in Elle’s ear. The troubled expression never left his face. He’s been anxiously waiting and praying for Susie to wake up, for her to survive this. But Father has different plans for them.

“It’s time.” The good angel Simon stood by my side, looking impassively at Susie’s frail body. We both knew what he meant. I turned and looked at Elle and her father. “They’ll be fine. Father will see them through it all,” said Simon.

I looked at him and nodded my head. We may be a higher form of being and cannot feel pain the same way a human does but we know how to have compassion and love, the same way the Father does.

In a couple of seconds, loud disturbing noises came from the apparatuses that are attached to Susie. Edmund got up on his feet, looking frantic more than ever. Nurses were scampering around, followed by a doctor.

I watched through the glass window how the nurses and the doctor tried to save Susie and stabilize her dropping heart rate, all to no avail. Her heart rate continued to drop until it went flat. Susie’s soul detached from her body and she was approached by Simon.

“Come,” Simon called out to her.

Susie smiled at him and took his extended hand. She stopped momentarily in front of me and smiled. “Thank you, for saving my baby.”

“Her time has not come yet. She still has a full-life ahead of her.”

Susie nodded her head in understanding and was ushered by Simon to her now new home. I watched as they disappeared in thin air. I was about to glance back at Elle and his dad when the people inside the ICU caught my attention. Almost a minute had already lapsed but the doctor is still adamant and determined in bringing Susie back to life. He discarded the CPR equipment and tried to manually pump her chest. The nurses were already calling out his attention, asking him to stop, informing him that it is all over but he would not hear any of them. He continued to give Susie CPR. And when his strength waned down, he finally stopped. With much resignation, he turned to one of the nurse and informed them of Susie’s time of death.

I watched as the doctor hung his head low for a few seconds before he straightened up and went out of the room and approached Edmund and Elle. His vigorous efforts to save Susie and the sincere anguish he felt when he failed to save her impressed me. Even when half of mankind had gone bad and went on with their evil ways, there still are a lot of things that are admirable about them, and this is one of them.

As the doctor finally reached Edmund and Elle, only then have I noticed him closely. He was relatively tall, approx. 5’10” in height, well-built, and a Chinese who possess a pair of expressive eyes. Eyes that reminded me of someone – Richard.

With an apologetic tone and sincere sympathy, the doctor informed Edmund that Susie had passed away due to the internal injuries that she sustained. The doctor placed a hand on Edmund’s shoulder, as the latter broke down and cried over his deceased wife.

“Dr. Lim!” A nurse approached the doctor, stopping from his tracks as he was already about to leave. “Doc, kailangan niyo pong i-sign ito.”

The doctor took the papers from the staff and signed it. After handing it back, he continued to walk away and for some reason, I found myself following him. He rode the elevator, disembarked, and entered an office where his name is nicely etched on the glass door, Richard T. Lim, M.D. Neurosurgeon. And I smiled. For the first time, after the night that I left him, I saw him once more, the boy who holds a very special place in my heart.

I passed thru the door and stood before him. He was sitting on his swivel chair, leaning back with his eyes closed. One can easily sense his somber mood. This somehow tells me that he was still the same old Richard that I knew. The Richard who is compassionate, selfless, and loves helping other people, especially those in need.

“Everything okay brod?” A man, wearing a lab coat on top of a white polo, tie, slacks and leather shoes entered the room and approached Richard.

Richard opened his eyes. “Not really brod.” He sat up straight and heaved out a sigh. “I just lost a patient.”

Richard’s friend nodded his head in understanding. “I heard. But I don’t think there really is anything that could be done to save her. From what I heard, grabe daw ang injuries na na-sustain niya from the crash.”

“Yes. The injuries she sustained from the crash are what caused her to die. But still, it’s not an excuse for me not to have saved her. You should’ve seen her daughter. She was still so young. And now she’ll have to live her life without her mother by her side.”

“Brod, you know how everything happens for a reason. Besides, kung talagang oras na niya, oras na niya. You really won’t be able to do anything about that fact. Nothing we do can ever save her from her fate,” explained Richard’s friend.

“I know Ryan.” Richard let out another sigh. “Naaawa lang kasi ako sa naiwan niyang mag-ama.”

Ryan smiled at Richard, and I can tell he too was amused by Richard’s kindness and compassion. “They’re being watched over brod. They’ll get through this. Hindi naman sila bibigyan ng ganitong pagsubok ng Diyos kung hindi nila ito kaya eh.”

After a few more minutes, Ryan eventually got up on his feet. He informed Richard that he still has a couple of rounds before he call it a day. As he was making his way towards the door, Ryan turned his head and looked my way giving me a sense that he somehow knows I’m here or that he could actually feel my presence. But before I could further ponder on the possibilities, Ryan continued to walk and went on with his way.

Richard leaned back on his swivel chair and closed his eyes once more. I don’t know what’s going on in his mind but I can feel his sadness. It shows in his aura.

Without shifting from his position, he took out his mobile phone from the pocket of his pants and started dialing a number. After a couple of tries, he’s still getting the same response. He tried scrolling down on his phonebook and called a different number. After a while, a smile emerged from his lips and he started to speak.

“Hi Ma!” Richard said.

“Ricky hijo! Napatawag ka?” His mother Esmeralda asked.

“Wala naman Ma. I just missed you.”

“Ang anak ko talaga! Well I missed you too hijo!”

“How was Papa?”

“Your papa is doing fine son. Ikaw? How are you doing there? Is everything okay?”

Richard heaved out a sigh. “Okay naman Ma. Just another day in the hospital.”

“You sounded tired son. Baka hindi ka nagpapahinga ng maayos ha? Hindi naman tama yan hijo! You’re a doctor and you yourself should know that too much work isn’t good for your health! You should rest as well!” reprimanded Esmeralda.

Richard chuckled at her mother’s rant. “Ma, I’m okay. I don’t take my health for granted. I don’t overwork myself. Na-mi-miss ko lang talaga kayo ni Papa.”

“Aww.. Well I miss my unico hijo so much as well. Don’t worry son. I’ll ask your Papa na umuwi kami diyan para magbakasyon at makasama ka namin.”

Richard smiled. “That’ll be a wonderful idea Ma. I’ll look forward to it.”

“Well you definitely should!” chuckled Esmeralda. “By the way, how was Alex?”

“She’s doing fine Ma. We’re doing great.”

“That’s good to hear son. Ang gusto ko pag-uwi namin ng Papa mo, makapag-bonding naman kami niyang fiancé mo. And sana naman ay pag-usapan narin natin ang details ng wedding niyo.”

Richard let out a laugh. “Ok Ma. I’ll tell her.”

“Good. O pano son? I got to go. May pupuntahan pa kasi ako. I’ll catch up with you soon okay? Always take care of yourself ok?”

“Yes Ma, I will. You guys take care of yourselves as well. I love you.”

“I love you too son. Bye.”

After the phone call with his mom, Richard’s mood visibly changed. He’s now smiling though the hint of sadness is still there lingering in his eyes. He pressed the speaker on his desk phone and dialed an extension.

“Yes Dr. Lim?”

“Hi Liza. Do I still have any scheduled appointment?”

“Wala na po sir. You are free for the day.”

“Thank you. I’m leaving early today. Just call me for any emergency.”

“I will Doc.”

After the conversation, Richard packed his things up and went out of his office. He rode the elevator once more and this time hit the basement. As he got out, he went to his car and started driving. Am not really sure where exactly he is going but I just sat back at the backseat, contented to simply watch him, look over him just like how I used to when he was still a young kid.

He stopped by a flower shop and bought a bouquet of red roses. A couple of minutes more, we rounded a corner and entering a basement of a high rise condominium building. We boarded the lift once again and disembarked on the 20th floor. We turned left and I watch him stop in front of a unit and enter the code onto the security pad.

As we entered the unit, a nagging sense hit me. Something isn’t right. I brushed the feeling off. In a way, I know what I doing was wrong. I shouldn’t actually be loitering around and following another human who was obviously beyond my jurisdiction. By now, I should’ve been back to heaven and inquiring about my next assignment but I got too preoccupied by Richard that all I want at the moment is to catch up with him and know how and what he has become.

“Alex? Babe?” Richard called out but got no answer. He walked to the living room and found everything in place. He then walked to the kitchen and got himself a glass of water. Rinsing the glass, he placed it back on the rack. He was already on his way back to the living room when he stopped on his tracks. He turned right and started walking towards one of the bedrooms. His face had a darkened expression and only then did I start to notice the noise coming from the bedroom. Before I could react any further, Richard was already opening the door.

I may not have the ability to read minds or know everything that’s happening or that’s going to happen, but the dark, hard as stone and cold as ice expression that looms over his face and the menacing look he has in his eyes are already enough to predict the things that are running in his mind. Without thinking twice, I reached out to him, touched his shoulder and washed him with some calmness.

Reluctantly, he turned his back. With tears rolling down from his eyes, he started walking out of the unit.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The Guardian Angel – Prologue

Author: princemackaroo

 

~*~

 

“I love you Maya!” said Richard as I tucked him in bed. He was smiling sweetly at me as he said those words. “Can you be mine forever?”

I smiled back at him as I gently sit down on the edge of his bed. Caressing his hair ever so softly, I looked at his innocent eyes as I try to explain why I can’t stay by his side forever. “Richard, di ba nasabi ko naman na sa’yo, time will come when you eventually grow, you’ll no longer need me but another kid will. When that time comes, I will have to leave and look after another child.”

Richard’s cute little brows furrowed the way I know he’s trying to ponder on the things that I’ve been telling him. Richard’s a smart little kid which makes it easier to talk to him. Despite his age, he talks and thinks like a matured teenage boy though he’s only nine years old. “Then I’d always need you! If that happens you’ll never leave me, right?”

I let out a chuckle. This boy never really fails to amuse me no matter what. “Pero di ba sabi mo you’re already a young man now? Young men are independent and can do things by themselves.”

“I know. But I don’t want to be a young man anymore. I just want to be a boy so you’ll never leave me.”

This does not always happen. Truth be told, this is not supposed to happen in the first place. As a guardian angel, we were supposed to protect children and keep them from harm’s length and not let them brokenhearted and vulnerable. I’ve been doing this task for centuries and haven’t failed, not even once. I’ve never, not even once during my existence ever broken our code: Never to show ourselves to humans and get attached with them. And now, that’s exactly what I did. For the first time in my existence, I never found the need to put my guards up whenever I’m with Richard. I knew the dangers of it all and what it could possibly do to the both of us. I knew it was reckless and irresponsible of me, but there’s just something about the boy that I simply can’t afford to miss even if it meant my vulnerability. And now, I’m starting to reap the consequences of my own selfish actions. Who knows how much I still need to reap.

I took his little hands and held them against mine. I looked at him in his eyes as I further explain myself to him. “You can’t always be a boy, Richard. You’ll grow up and become a fine man. You’ll finish school, find a job, fall in love and have your own family.”

Okay, I guess that had been a mouthful as his brows furrowed once more, but I know he understands where I’m getting at. “Can’t you stay with me then and be someone I’ll fall in love with?”

“As much as I’d love to, I simply can’t. You know that I’m a guardian angel right? And what I do is look at children and guard them the best way I can so they won’t be harmed. But once they grow up and can already stand on their own, I already have to leave them and take care of other children.”

“But why? Can’t you do anything so you’ll just stay with me forever?”

This is one of the reasons why letting your guard down is never advisable. You can easily feel helpless and defenseless. Feel the pain of parting with someone you’re already used to having around. And before I could utter another word, I noticed the tears starting to well up in his small chinky eyes.

“Richard –“

He threw the cover off his body and in one swift move, threw himself to me and hugged me tight, wrapping his short arms around my neck. “I love you Maya! Please don’t ever leave me,” he said as he sobbed at my shoulder.

I closed my eyes as I try to control my emotions. I hugged him back and rub his back as I try to give him comfort. “Ssshh.. Don’t cry Richard. Di ba big boy ka na? And big boys are strong and can handle themselves already.”

“But I don’t want to be a big boy anymore!” he replied stubbornly. “I only want to be a young boy! A young boy who will always have a guardian angel by his side! Who would always have you by my side!”

I took a deep breath and composed myself the best way I can. I pulled him gently away from me so I can look him directly in his eyes. With my thumbs, I wiped the tears and held his face with my hands. “Richard, please listen to me okay?”

Richard nodded his head and I smiled at him once again.

“You can’t always be a boy. You’ll continue to grow and become a man. Gustuhin ko man na lagi nalang manatili sa tabi mo, hindi pwede. Paano nalang yung ibang mga bata na mangangilangan ng tulong ko?”

“Pero. . .”

“Richard di ba hindi magandang maging selfish?”

Richard nodded his head once more.

“Di ba mas maganda kung nakakatulong ka sa kapwa mo? Alam mo ba, pag lumaki ka na, nakakatulong ka sa ibang mga bata kasi magkakaroon na sila ng guardian angel na titingin at mag-aalaga sa kanila. O di ba mas maganda yun?”

“But I will be sad and I will miss you,” said Richard in a resigned tone.

“And I will miss you too. But these things have to happen. It may not make sense now, but eventually it will,” I smiled reassuringly at him though I know the reassurance is intended for me as well.

His tears flowed anew. “But I will never see you again, right?”

I nodded my head in confirmation. “You may never see me again, but I will always be here.” I placed my heart on his left chest, to where his heart is.

And I was surprised when he did the same to me. With his small little hand, he placed it on my left chest. “Will I always be here as well?”

“Always.”

After hugging and comforting him, he finally slept in my arms. Gently, I laid him back in bed and placed the duvet up to his chest. I watched him sleep and waited until the clock struck twelve and I knew it was already time. I bent down and placed a soft kiss on his forehead. “Happy birthday Richard! I will never ever forget you. You’ll always be in my heart. I love you.” With one last glance, I whispered my goodbye before I disappeared and went back to heaven.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The Art of Letting Go – part 45

A/N: This is a continuation to The Art of Letting Go – part 44.

 I really thought that I could just end this series with the previous chapter and simply provide you with an Epilogue but there are some who requested reading about Maya’s pregnancy and how they’ll deal with it as a couple, and most specifically, how Richard will deal with it. So here it is – the start of their “after happily ever after.” God bless everyone! 😀

Author: princemackaroo

~*~

“Welcome home angel!” Richard greeted Maya as they got back to their mansion. Joma had just picked them up from the airport and brought them to their home. He got out of the car and took out the luggage of the couple, leaving some privacy for the two.

Richard leaned closely to his wife and gave her a kiss. “Just stay here.”

“Huh?”

Richard simply smiled at her in return and immediately got out of the car and went to the other side. He opened the backseat door for his wife. As he bent down and tried to scoop and carry his wife out of the vehicle, Maya placed a hand on Richard’s shoulder and leaned back away from him.

“Honey, anong ginagawa mo?” she asked in amusement.

“What do you think am doing?” asked Richard as he smile back at his wife. “I’m going to carry my wife.” He once again attempted to scoop Maya up but the latter is adamant in her stance.

“Honey!! Ano ka ba! Hindi mo na ako kailangang buhatin pa.”

Richard tried to ignore her but Maya just leaned back more, pushing herself away from her husband.

“Honey ano ba! Kaya ko namang lumabas mag-isa! Hindi mo na ako kailangang buhatin pa!!” Maya was laughing while she tries to admonish her husband. “Honey!!”

“Angel, halika na. Nag-aantay na sa atin sa loob sila Papa at Mama at ang init init dito sa labas o. Tignan mo nga at pinagpapawisan na ako sa init. Come on. Sumama ka na sa akin at ng makapasok na tayo sa loob.”

“O kaya nga honey. Kaya ang mabuti pa huwag mo na akong buhatin pa para hindi ka na mahirapan pa at hindi ka na lalong pawisan pa.”

“No! I will carry you kaya makisama ka nalang,” grinned Richard.

Maya laughed even more. “Ano ba honey! Sabing wag na.”

Richard already had his left arm under Maya’s knees but can’t place his right arm around her shoulders as Maya kept pushing him.

“Honey!!” squealed Maya. “Ano ka ba! Hindi ka ba talaga titigil ha?” laughed Maya.

“No, kaya makisama ka nalang okay.”

Seeing the determination of her husband, Maya thought of tickling him and escape his hold. She successfully tickled Richard but the latter eventually got hold of her hands.

“Yan pala ang gusto mo ha?” remarked Richard as he give Maya a mischievous look.

Easily picking up what his look meant, Maya tried to free her hands from his hold. “Honey. . . Yang binabalak mo ha. Itigil mo yan. Kailangan na nating pumasok sa loob at –“

Before Maya could even finish her sentence, Richard already had his hands at Maya’s sides, tickling her relentlessly.

“Honey!!!!” squealed Maya. “Tama na! Tama naaa!!” laughed Maya as Richard’s unforgiving fingers continue to tickle her.

Richard was laughing hard as well as he continued to torture his wife.

As their laughter filled the air, the two were oblivious of the audience that gathered in front of the main door, watching them.

“Kaya naman pala hindi pa nakakapasok sa loob hanggang ngayon. Naghaharutan pa pala ang lovebirds sa loob ng sasakyan,” said Kute loudly but was surprised that Richard and Maya did not seem to have heard her. She together with rest of the group giggled at what just happened.

Mamang motioned for everyone to keep quiet. She stealthily walked towards the car’s opened door and stood behind Richard, whose half body is still inside the car. “Hoy mga apo!! Ano bang pinagkaka-abalahan niyo diyan ha!!” bellowed Mamang.

The couples were both startled and surprised at the same time when they heard Mamang’s voice. Richard stood up straight and saw Mamang beaming at him.

“Mano po Mamang.” Richard took Mamang’s right hand and pressed it on his forehead.

“Kaawaan ka apo.”

Maya scrambled to get out of the car. “Mamang!!” she greeted and immediately threw her arms around Mamang and hugged her tight. “Kumusta ka na Mamang?” Maya asked as she detangled herself.

“Mabuti naman ako apo. Kayo kumusta naman ang pulot-gata niyong mag-asawa?” Mamang held Maya at arm’s length and seemingly examined her fully. “Aba apo! Mukhang lalo kang gumaganda ah!”

Maya just giggled in response.

“Ehem! Ehem! Bunso! Richard! Nandito din kami!! Baka gusto niyo naman kaming pansinin,” called out Kute.

Maya and Richard swiftly pivoted around to see the smiling faces of Kute, Teresita, Roberto, and Esmeralda.

“Kute!! Nay!!” exclaimed Maya. She ran towards the two and engulfed them in a hug. As they broke free, “Bakit kayo nandito? Anong ginagawa niyo dito?” she asked.

“Wow bunso! After niyong mawala at magpakasaya ng isang buwan yan lang ang ibubungad mo sa amin? Hindi niyo na nga kami nakasama ng pasko at bagong taon ganyan nalang ang pagbati mo sa amin? Nakaka-hurt ka naman ng feelings bunso!” joked Kute.

“Sira ka talaga Kute!” chuckled Maya. “Syempre nagulat lang ako na makita kayo dito noh! Miss na miss ko na kaya kayo!”

“Assuuu!!! Totoo ba yan? Eh mukhang nakalimutan mo na nga kami eh!”

Maya simply laughed at her sister. “Pwede ba namang mangyari yun. Pwede ko ba namang makalimutan ang aking pinakamamahal at best sister in town?”

“Nambola pa si bunso!” Kute paused for a while and looked at her sister. “Pero na-miss kita bunso.”

“Awww. Na-miss din kita Kute!” They once again shared an embrace.

Teresita deliberately cleared her throat. “Paano naman ako nak?”

Maya looked at her mother. “Aaawww!! Nay syempre na-miss ko din po kayo!!” From Kute, Maya went to Teresita and hugged her tight.

“Na-miss din kita nak.” Same as Mamang, Teresita held Maya at arm’s length and examined her. “Tama si Mamang, lalo kang gumaganda nak. Blooming na blooming ka. Alagang alaga ka ni Richard noh?”

Maya nodded her head and smiled bashfully at her mother.

“O eh paano naman kami ng Papa Roberto mo hija, hindi mo man lang ba kami na-miss?”

Maya looked over Teresita’s shoulder and saw Esmeralda pouting dramatically at her. She chuckled at the sight and went to them. “Pwede po ba namang hindi ko kayo ma-miss ni Papa? Siyempre na-miss ko rin po kayo!” said Maya as she went over them and gave them both a hug as well.

Richard also greeted the rest of the family and hugged each and every one of them.

“I think it’s better if we all get inside. Doon nalang tayo mag-kumustahan sa loob at ng makakain narin tayong lahat,” said Esmeralda then turned to Richard and Maya. “Hindi niyo naitatanong, both Conchita and Teresita prepared a sumptuous lunch for all of us.”

“Talaga po Ma?” beamed Maya.

“Oh yes hija! They prepared the dish na paborito niyong pareho ni Ricky.”

“Kare-kare!” Richard and Maya blurted out in unison.

“Yes!” chuckled Esmeralda. “Kaya let’s all get inside para makakain na tayong lahat at makapag-pahinga narin kayong dalawa. I know it’s been a long and tiring travel.”

As everyone made their way inside the mansion, Richard held Maya back. “Angel wait. May sasabihin lang ako.”

“Ano yun?”

As soon as the last person entered the mansion, Richard scooted down and carried Maya in his arms.

Maya let out a surprise gasp with what Richard did. “Honey!”

“I told you I wanted to carry you,” grinned Richard.

Before Maya could react any further, Richard started walking and carried her all the way inside the mansion. Soon after the door closed behind them, teasing and cheers were heard.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Mmm.. The best talaga itong kare-kare niyo Mamang at Nay! Ang sarap talaga!” Maya said with utter appreciation as she eats her food with so much gusto. “Timpla niyo rin po itong bagoong di po ba?”

“Ang nanay mo ang nagtimpla niyang bagoong apo,” replied Mamang. “Talagang sarap na sarap ka sa luto namin ng nanay mo ah. Mukhang na-miss mo talaga ito ng husto.”

“Sinabi niyo pa Mamang! Ang sarap lang po talaga! Di ba honey?”

“Yup! The best parin po talaga ang kare-kare dish niyo Nay and Mamang,” agreed Richard.

“At itong bagoong Nay masarap po sanang iterno sa manggang hilaw,” said Maya.

“Ay tama ka bunso!” said Kute. “Naalala mo dati, pag magluluto na sila ng Nanay ng kare-kare, dali-dali tayong pumupunta sa taniman ni Ninong Ramon at mangunguha ng mangga?”

“Oo. Mamimitas na agad tayo nun tas iuuwi sa bahay para ma-iterno sa bagoong na gawa ni Nanay!”

“Tas naalala mo nung minsang sumakit ang tiyan mo dahil kumain ka agad ng mangga ng walang laman ang tiyan mo tas uminom ka agad ng maraming tubig?” mused Kute.

Maya laughed as she remembered that incident. “Paano ko naman makakalimutan yun Kute eh sumobra kaya sakit ng tiyan ko noon! Kulang nalang talaga madala ako sa pagkain ng mangga dahil dun eh!”

The rest of the household joined in her laughter.

“Parang natatakam din ako sa mangga ah,” said Esmeralda. “Fe, meron ba tayong green mangoes sa fridge?”

Manang Fe went to the dining area. “Wala po ma’am eh.”

“Oh. Sayang naman,” she said then thought for a while. “Do you think the supermarket has some?”

Manang Fe smiled. “Ipapa-check ko nalang po kila Sabel.”

“Oh please do Fe. Gusto lang kasi talaga naming kumain ng green mangoes,” gushed Esmeralda.

“Sige po mam.” Manang Fe smiled and turned around to leave.

“Esmeralda, daig mo pa ang naglilihi sa paghanap mo ng green mangoes,” said Roberto.

Esmeralda waved a dismissive hand. “Nonsense Roberto. Minsan nalang din naman akong makakain at maghanap ng green mangoes. If not for the stories that Cristina Rose and Maya shared I would never have thought of looking for such. Saka tama sila, it’s a perfect partner for this bagoong.”

“Whatever you say Esmeralda,” said Roberto.

As they continued to eat, Teresita noticed Maya getting another ample serving of rice. “Nak! Hinay-hinay lang sa pagkain. Baka ma-impacho ka niyan,” remarked Teresita.

Maya chuckled. “Hindi po nay. Kaya pa naman po ng tiyan ko. Ang sarap lang po kasi talaga nitong niluto niyo at na-miss ko lang po talaga ito ng sobra.”

“Oo nga naman Teresita. Hayaan mo lang kumain ng kumain yang apo natin. Isang buwan din silang nawala kaya normal lang na ma-miss niya ang mga ganitong lutuin dito,” defended Mamang. “Sige lang apo at kumain ka lang ng kumain hangga’t gusto mo. Ikaw Richard apo. Kumain ka lang din ng kumain ha. Talagang niluto namin yan para sa inyong dalawa at alam naming paboritong paborito niyo yan.”

“Salamat po Mamang,” smiled Richard.

“Make sure to have room for dessert ha?” said Esmeralda. “I’ve made fruit salad and leche flan for you guys.”

“Wow! Talagang hinanda niyo ang mga gusto namin ha,” said Richard.

“But of course hijo. We wanted the both of you to have a really good homecoming.”

“Thanks Ma!”

“May Durian po ba Ma?” asked Maya out of the blue. Everyone around the table paused from eating and turned to look at her.

“Durian nak?” clarified Teresita.

Maya nodded her head. “Bigla ko lang pong naisip. Na-miss ko rin po yata.”

“Oh.” Esmeralda looked at Maya apologetically. “I’m sorry hija pero hindi ako nakapagpabili ng Durian. Ricky never mentioned you have such fondness for that fruit. Pero kung gusto mo we can ask Sabel –”

Though a bit disappointed, Maya chose to ignore her craving for the said fruit. “Naku Ma! Ok lang po. Next time nalang po siguro.”

“Are you sure? Pwede naman tayong magpahanap kung gusto mo talaga?”

Maya gave Esmeralda a reassuring smile. “Ok lang po talaga Ma.”

“Naka naman ang trip mo bunso!” teased Kute. “Una manggang hilaw, tas ngayon naman Durian? At kelan ka pa nahilig sa Durian?”

“Bigla ko lang namang naalala Kute, kasi nung napunta kami nila Emman at James sa Bangkok ang sarap nung Durian na nakain namin doon eh. Na-miss ko lang,” said Maya.

“Oh yes! They do have good tasting Durians. Almost the same as what Davao has,” agreed Roberto. “Parang ako naman ngayon ang nahawa sa cravings ni Maya.”

Everyone laughed at Roberto’s remark.

After they finished off their food, Esmeralda had the desserts served. Everyone got their own serving of both desserts but Maya seemed to have lost her appetite at the sight. For some reason, she can’t get her mind off the green mangoes and the Durian. As everyone is digging in their own share of desserts, Maya just played with hers.

“Angel, are you okay?” Richard asked.

“Huh? Oo naman. Bakit?”

“Hindi mo kasi ginagalaw yang dessert mo eh. Di ba paborito mo rin ang mga yan?”

Maya just smiled at Richard. “Busog lang siguro ako honey. Ang dami kong nakaing kare-kare eh.”

Richard smiled back. “Well I guess I would be more surprised if you still had the appetite to eat all these desserts. Baka maniwala na akong may mga alaga ka talaga diyan sa tiyan mo.”

Maya pinched Richard’s side. “Alam mo ikaw puro ka talaga kalokohan!”

Richard caught Maya’s hand as he laughed and pressed it to his lips for a kiss.

“Tita Esme pasensya na po kayo ha, pero para pong tumabang itong salad at leche flan. Nadaig po ng ka-sweetan nitong dalawa dito.” Kute pointed her thumb at Richard and Maya and grinned at them.

Everyone howled in laughter once more.

“Ikaw talaga Kute!” said Maya.

As they finished off their meal, they all went to the living room to rest for a while. Richard and Maya took the opportunity to distribute the presents they bought for each and everyone. After about an hour, everyone went to their respective rooms, except for Richard and Maya, to have their afternoon siesta and also to give room for the couple to rest. The newlyweds decided to stay at the verandah for a while before they retire to their room.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Cristina Rose, may napansin ka ba kanina sa kapatid mo?” Teresita asked, as they have settled inside their room to rest for a while.

Kute looked at Teresita with a confused look on her face. “Napansin Nay?” She thought for a while before she answered her mother further. “Umm.. Napansin kong mas glowing si bunso. Eh pero normal lang naman yun lalo’t bagong kasal at alagang alaga ng asawa. Tsaka, mukhang na-miss niya ang husto ang mga luto niyo ni Mamang.” Her face lit up as she tried to prove her point further. “Tama! Na-miss niya yung luto niyo Nay!” Kute chuckled. “Kita mo nga kanina, ang lakas kumain! Kung nakailang lagay ng kanin sa plato! At naalala pa ang mangga na dati naming kinukuha sa tuwing may bagoong ka at hindi lang yun, ngayon naman pati Durian! Naghahanap narin siya ng Durian!” Kute shakes her head in amusement.

“Yun na nga anak. Yan din ang mga napansin ko sa kapatid mo kanina. Sumobra ang gana niya sa pagkain. At nagulat din nga ako na pati Durian, naghahanap siya. Hindi ko naman alam na nahilig ang kapatid mo sa prutas na iyon,” said Teresita.

“Eh di ba Nay, sabi naman niya kanina na nakatikim siya ng prutas na yun sa Bangkok? Baka nahiligan niya nang matikman niyang masarap pala. Saka sabi naman niya naalala lang daw niya kaya na-miss niya. Siguro na-miss ng husto yung luto niyo at nasarapan ng husto kaya napakain ng marami at naalala yung ibang mga pagkain na natikman niyang masarap,” explained Kute.

Teresita thought for a while. “Pero iba ang tingin ko nak eh. Tingin ko iba ang sanhi sa maganang pagkain ng kapatid mo kanina at pati narin sa paghahanap niya ng Durian,” said Teresita with a hint of excitement.

Kute simply looked at her in oblivion.

“Nak, tingin ko nag-da-dalang tao na ang kapatid mo,” smiled Teresita.

“Sa tingin mo nay?”

“Oo nak, pero hinuha ko lang naman yun. Pwede namang nagkakamali lang ako at posible ngang na-miss lang niya ang mga luto ni Nanay kaya ganun nalang ang gana niya sa pagkain. Pero kasi iba ang kutob ko nak eh.” Teresita paused and thought for a while. “Teka at matanong nga si Nanay.”

Kute chuckled. “Nay, pano niyo pa matatanong yang si Mamang. Tignan mo nga o. Paglapat palang ng likod sa kama ayan at plakda na, naghihihilik na!”

“Ikaw talaga Cristina Rose! Kung alaskahin mo yang Mamang mo ha,” reprimanded Teresita.

“Eh kasi naman nay, tignan mo, tulog agad,” chuckled Kute. “Pero nay, siguro kung ano man yung napansin natin kay bunso kanina, hayaan nalang muna natin. Tutal kanina palang natin siya nakita na ganun. Pakiramdaman nalang din siguro natin sa mga susunod na araw para narin hindi tayo ma-hopia sa huli.”

Teresita sighed. “Tama ka nga nak. Pero lam mo nak, sigurado ako, pag nagka-anak yang mag-asawa na yan, pihadong gwapo at magaganda sila.”

Kute smirked. “Eh sigurado na yun nay! Sa pamilya palang natin, puro tayo mga gwapo’t magaganda. Tas ang napangasawa pa ni bunso, lahi din ng mga gwapo’t magaganda. O di ba? Wala kang itulak kabigin!”

Terestita laughed. “Oo nga nak! Kaya mas lalo akong na-e-excite na magka-apo ulit,” mused Teresita, then faced Kute. “Ikaw naman kasi nak. Kung noon palang sinagot mo na si Jeff at nagpakasal, eh di sana nadagdagan pa ang apo ko.”

Kute waved her hands frantically in an attempt to stop her mother. “Wow! Wow lang ha! Wow lang nay!” she mocked. “Yang mga ganyang hirit niyo eh noh? Nay, uulitin ko lang ha. Kailan man ay hindi nanligaw sa akin si Jeff at lalong hindi nagyaya ng kasal kaya malabong talaga yang iniilusyon niyo. Kaya please, please lang. Tigil na okay?” pleaded Kute.

Teresita smiled and gave her daughter a knowing smile. “Eh di kung sakali palang manligaw at magyaya si Jeff ng kasal nak –“

“Nay!!” groaned Kute. She stomped her foot and scratched her head with both hands in frustration. “Itigil niyo na nay okay? Itigil niyo na yang ilusyon niyo tungkol sa amin ni Jeff. Dahil hinding hindi mangyayari yan. Hindi talaga. Hindi.”

Teresita laughed and moved close to Kute and hugged her. “Ito talagang anak ko napaka-pikon.”

“Ikaw naman kasi nay eh! Kakilakilabot naman kasi yang mga pinagsasasabi niyo eh!”

Teresita simply laughed even more.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

For the next three days, Richard and Maya are still having trouble adjusting their body clocks to the local time zone. Their bodies got too accustomed to the European time. They found themselves staying up until the wee hours and would normally wake up late in the morning, thus they were not able to join their respective families for breakfast. Aside from this, Maya had been battling with nausea for two consecutive days now which usually attacks early morning. She kept it unknown from Richard, not wanting him to get worried as she assumed that it will eventually go away as soon as her body gets fully recovered from the time zone disparity.

One morning, a wave of nausea struck Maya once more. She hastily got out of bed, recklessly detangling herself from Richard as she can no longer stop the bile from rising up her throat. She ran to the bathroom and threw up at the toilet. In just a few seconds, a panicked Richard came rushing by her side.

“Angel!” Richard gathered his wife’s hair, held it up and gently rubbed her back. He can feel how Maya’s stomach contracts as she empty all its contents in a couple of deep blows.

As Maya’s stomach finally calmed down and her breathing already even, she went to the sink and rinsed her mouth with water. Richard reached for the towel as Maya was already about to straight up. He gently dabbed her lips and the corners of it dry.

“Thank you,” muttered Maya as she smiled gratefully at her husband.

“Are you okay?” Richard asked with the worried look still on his face.

Maya nodded her head. “Okay lang ako honey. Medyo nahilo lang ako.”

“Are you sure?” Placing the towel aside, Richard touched Maya’s forehead with the back of his hand and touched her neck as he try to check her temperature.

“Honey,” chuckled Maya. “Nahilo lang talaga ako pero wala akong sakit o ano man.”

Richard still continued to examine her. “You really don’t look that good to me. Para ngang medyo namumutla ka eh.”

“Dahil lang siguro sa puyat honey. Di ba ilang araw narin tayong hindi agad agad nakakatulog sa gabi? Masyado atang nasanay yung katawan natin sa European time kaya medyo nahirapan tayong mag-adjust ngayon. I’m sure pag naitulog ko ito, mawawala din ito,” said Maya.

Richard still looked at her unconvinced. “Are you sure?”

“Sure na sure honey,” she said smiling reassuringly at Richard. She then closed their gap and hugged her husband. “Sorry honey ha.”

“Huh? What are you sorry for?”

“Eh kasi na-istorbo kita sa pagtulog mo eh. Nung mga nakaraang araw naman hindi naman ganoon kalakas yung hilo ko pero kanina –“

Richard immediately held her on both shoulders and pushed her a little so he can look straight at her eyes. “You mean this isn’t the first time na nagsusuka ka?”

Maya bit her lip in hesitation.

“Angel please tell me the truth. I want to know the truth. I need to know the truth. How long has this been going on?” asked Richard.

“Eh kasi honey. . . May two days narin. Bigla nalang akong magigising sa umaga dahil nga sumasama yung sikmura ko. Nung una hindi naman ganun kasama. Pero kanina, ewan ko ba. Hindi ko na talaga nakayanan kaya kahit magising pa kita, ginawa ko na umabot lang ako sa banyo,” explained Maya.

“Why didn’t you tell me??!” Richard asked in exasperation.

“Dahil ayaw kong mag-alala ka. Pagtapos ko naman kasing magsuka, okay na. Babalik lang ako sa kama tas nakakatulog na ulit ako. Alam ko namang sa puyat lang ito eh. Mawawala din agad ito once maka-adjust na yung body clock ko.”

Richard sighed. “Get dressed.”

“Huh?”

“Get dressed. Aalis tayo.” Richard moved to the walk-in closet and started rummaging through his and Maya’s clothes.

Maya looked at Richard with uncertainty. “Honey, pasado alas sais palang ng umaga. Saan naman tayo pupunta ng ganito kaaga?”

“Sa hospital. We’re going to the hospital to have you checked.”

“Ha?? Honey ano ka ba! Sabi ko naman sa’yo okay lang ako. Wala akong sakit o ano man. Nahilo lang ako dahil sa puyat. Pero –“

“Pero ilang araw narin na nagsusuka ka sa umaga. Kung talagang dahil lang sa puyat yan, then well and good. But we’ll still go to the hospital to have you checked.”

“Pero honey, ok nga lang ako. Itutulog ko nalang ulit ito.”

“We can always go back to bed to sleep once we get back to the hospital,” insisted Richard.

Maya still wanted to stand her ground. “Richard. . .”

Richard sighed. He faced Maya and cupped her face, his eyes mirroring what he truly feels, anxiety. “Angel. Please. . . Just do this for me, hmm? For my own peace of mind. Wala namang masama if ipa-check natin what’s really causing all this. What I won’t be able to bear is the thought na there’s something deeper behind this all and we chose to simply ignore it.”

Maya sighed in defeat. “Ok sige, payag na ako. Pero bumalik rin tayo agad ha? Ayoko namang sila Nanay at sila Mama ang mag-alala.”

“Okay.” Richard smiled and kissed Maya’s forehead.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Fe, bumangon na ba yung mag-asawa? Bakit parang hindi ko pa sila napansing bumaba?” asked Esmeralda. She already got used to the newlyweds routine of going out from their room at around 10AM or so. But it was already 11:30 and she still hasn’t seen the two. She’s been busily preparing their lunch for that day, together with Teresita and Conchita and they hadn’t noticed either Richard or Maya nor noticed any of their house helper get some food to be brought to the couple.

“Hindi ko parin sila nakikita mula kanina mam pero ang sabi ni Joma, maaga daw umalis yung mag-asawa,” said Manang Fe.

“Umalis daw sila Manang? Sinabi daw ba kung saan sila pupunta?” asked Teresita.

“Hindi daw nasabi kay Joma kung saan sila pupunta eh. Ang sabi lang ni Joma, mukha daw nagmamadali itong si Ricardo,” explained Manang Fe.

“Ah ganoon po ba? Saan naman kaya nagpunta yung mga batang yun?” Teresita thought out loud.

“Baka naman nagpahangin lang sa labas yung mag-asawa. Napansin kong, mula ng bumalik sila mula sa Europa, parang nag-iba ang takbo ng pangangatawan nila. Siguro ay nag-a-adjust parin sa oras at klima natin dito sa Pilipinas,” said Mamang.

“That’s true Mare. Kahit ako ay nararanasan ko din ang magka-ganyan. Siguro nga ay lumabas lang yung dalawa saglit.”

A couple of seconds later, a car horn being blown is heard.

“O baka yan na sila,” said Esmeralda.

Not so long, Richard and Maya walked inside carrying a plastic bag of fruits and other items they bought from the grocery. They went to the kitchen to place the bags on top of the kitchen top.

“Hi Ma! Mamang! Nanay!” the couple greeted as they kissed each one.

“O mga nak? Lumabas kayo para mag-grocery?” asked Teresita.

Richard and Maya looked at each other and smiled secretly.

“At bakit kayo pang dalawa ang lumabas? Pwede namang iniutos niyo nalang kila Sabel yan para hindi na kayo naabala pa sa pahinga niyo. Alam naman naming hindi parin kayo nakakatulog ng maayos sa gabi,” said Esmeralda.

“Okay lang po yun Ma saka wala naman po kaming ginagawa ni Richard kaya kami nalang po ang dumaan sa grocery,” explained Maya.

“So what do you have for lunch for us Ma?” asked Richard.

“Well, eto at nagluluto kami ngayon ng chicken and pork adobo. Naglambing kasi ang Papa mo. Lutuin ko naman daw yun for him,” said Esmeralda.

Richard simply nodded his head. “Would that be okay with you angel?” he whispered to Maya.

Maya nodded her head enthusiastically.

Richard smiled widely at her and kissed her temple. “Ma, akyat lang po kami sa taas saglit.”

“Okay son. We’ll just call you once lunch is ready,” said Esmeralda.

Richard smiled. “Thanks Ma.” Hand in hand, he and Maya walked back to their bedroom.

“Nakakatuwa talaga yang anak mo balae. Wala na talaga akong mahihiling pa para sa anak ko,” remarked Teresita.

“He really loves Maya so much. At nakikita ko naman na mahal na mahal din ni Maya ang anak ko kaya masayang masaya ako para sa kanilang dalawa,” replied Esmeralda.

“Pero ang anak mo balae, sobrang maalaga at maaalalahanin. Talagang inalam pa niya kay Maya kung okay sa kanya ang niluluto mong ulam,” smiled Teresita.

Esmeralda chuckled. “Parang Papa niya. Ganyan din si Roberto kaya pag naglalambing tulad ngayon, hindi ko mahindian.”

As their mothers and grandmother are busy preparing their meals in the kitchen, Richard and Maya were resting on their bed. Maya had her back rested on the headboard with her legs are stretched out in front of her while Richard was lying on his stomach, gently caressing Maya’s tummy with a permanent grin on his face.

Maya just watch her husband in thorough amusement. She caresses his hair as she smile fondly at him.

“Hello little buddy! You know what? I can no longer wait to see you. You never know how much you made me and your mom so happy! We love you so much. Just hang in there and stay strong ha? So that when you finally come out, we can start playing and go places and –“

Richard was cut off by Maya’s laughter. He immediately shifted his gaze to his wife. “What?”

“Honey, unang-una, hindi ka pa niya naiintindihan. Wala pang nadidinig yan. Pangalawa, play and go places agad agad pag labas ng baby natin?” laughed Maya once more.

“You’re making fun of me Mrs. Lim,” grinned Richard. “Pero okay lang. If laughing at my expense is what will make you and baby happy, I’ll let it be. Basta maging masaya lang kayo ni baby palagi.”

Once again, Richard successfully melted Maya’s heart as he always does. She reached out for his face and caressed it gently. Richard held her hand and kissed her palm.

“I love you honey.”

Richard got up on his hands and knees and crawled towards Maya. As their faces were only a few inches apart, “I love you too. I love you so much,” he muttered and sealed her lips with his for a kiss.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

As everyone gathered around the dining table to have their lunch, Richard asked for everyone’s attention first and asked them to wait for a while as he went to the kitchen. He got a couple of wine glasses and a bottle of red wine. As he got back to the dining area, he distributed the glasses and poured wine on each and every one, except for Maya.

“Are we celebrating something? Sa makalawa pa naman ang alis namin ah? Ito na ba ang padespedida mo sa aming lahat son?” asked Roberto.

Richard chuckled at his father’s question. “No Pa. Hindi ito padespedida para sa inyo. But yes, we are celebrating something.”

“Oh! Kaya pala nanghingi ka pa ng confirmation kay Maya kanina kung okay lang ba yung ulam na ni-prepare namin. Dapat pala sinabi niyo agad sa amin para hindi lang adobo ang na-prepare. We could’ve prepared something more,” said Esmeralda.

Richard and Maya softly chuckled at Esmeralda’s thoughtfulness. “Ok lang po Ma. This is already enough. Thank you po,” smiled Maya.

“O eh mga apo, ano nga ba ang sine-celebrate natin ngayon?” asked Mamang as she was no longer able to contain her curiousity.

Richard held Maya’s left hand as they looked at each other and smiled. They stood together. “Everyone we have an announcement to make.” Richard glanced at Maya first and the latter nodded back at him. “Maya and I. We’re four weeks pregnant.”

Surprised faces and gasps were seen and heard around the table.

“Is that true Ricky? Magkaka-apo na kami?” clarified an utterly surprised Esmeralda.

“Yes Ma. You’ll soon become grandparents. Magkaka-baby na kami ni Maya,” said Richard proudly.

Teresita, who already had her hands around her mouth and already at the verge of tears when she heard the news, abruptly stood up. She went to Maya and hugged her tight as tears freely flow down her face. “Masayang masaya ako para sa inyo anak. Masayang masaya ako.”

“Salamat po Nay,” said an already teary-eyed Maya.

As they broke off, Teresita caressed her daughter’s face before moving on to Richard and giving him a hug. “Congratulations Nak.”

“Salamat po Nay.”

It was then Richard’s parents to approach the two and congratulate the couple.

“Congratulations hija! I’m so happy for the both of you!” said Esmeralda as she hugged Maya.

“Thank you po Ma!”

“Maya hija?” called Roberto as he opened his arms for a hug.

Maya eagerly went up to him and hugged him.

“I am very very happy for the both of you hija. Very happy. Congratulations to the both of you.”

‘Thank you po Papa!”

The two then turned to Richard and congratulated him in the same manner as well.

“Hijo! I am so happy! Magkaka-apo narin kami sa wakas!”

Richard laughed at Esmeralda’s excitement. “I’m so happy as well Ma. Maya and I both are.”

“I can no longer wait to see my apo!” gushed Roberto.

“Me too Pa!” exclaimed Richard.

Mamang on the other hand gingerly got up from her seat as she dab the corners of her eyes. She walked towards the couple and congratulated them. “Maya. Richard. Mga apo. Masayang masaya ako para sa inyong dalawa. Congratulations!” With that, she gathered them both for a hug.

“Thank you Mamang!”

As they disengaged from the hug, Kute was standing beside Mamang and beaming at the couple.

“Yun o! Magkaka-pamangkin narin ako!! Congrats bunso!” greeted Kute as she hugged Maya.

“Salamat Kute!”

Shortly after, Kute went to Richard and gave him a bro hug. “Congrats bayaw! Talagang bull’s eye agad ha!”

Richard laughed at Kute’s quip. “I wouldn’t want  to let you guys down.”

“Yan naman ang gusto ko sa’yo bayaw eh! Marunong kang tuparin ang request namin!” joked Kute further earning another laugh from Richard.

As everyone is still reeling with excitement about the news, Richard got his glass and with the use of his fork, tapped on it a couple of times as he tried to get everyone’s attention. “Okay, everyone. As we celebrate this new blessing that’s given to us, I’d like to commence a toast. A toast to my very beautiful and lovely wife, whom I love so much and whom I’ll never cease to love until my last breath. Angel, I love you and I can never thank you enough for loving me back.” Raising his glass, “To Maya.”

Everyone followed and raised their glass for a toast. “To Maya!”

“And of course, the other reason for my being. The new blessing and bundle of joy that had come our way. Our new source of joy and happiness. A toast for our baby!”

“Cheers!”

After everyone took a sip of their wine, Roberto took the opportunity to offer a toast for the couple. “First of all, I’d like to congratulate once again my beloved children, Richard & Maya. Alam niyo, just the mere sight of the both of you, happy and overflowing with love for each another, already overwhelms my heart with so much joy and gladness. I can see in full clarity how you two truly love each other. It’s no wonder and there is not a slightest doubt that you two are perfectly made for each other. May you continue to love one another, no matter what. Be there for one another thru thick and thin. And now, as you are already starting your own family, may you continue to be blessed individually, as a couple, and as a family, as you guys continue to be a blessing to those people around you. And of course, a toast to my soon to be apo. May he or she stay healthy inside her mother’s  womb until the day he or she is born into this world and may he or she continue to  feel the love that the whole family has for him or her.” With that, Roberto raised his glass. “To Richard & Maya. To the new bundle of joy that has come our way. And to our family – the dela Rosa and Lim. Cheers!”

“Cheers!”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

It was past 2PM when the whole family had finished their lunch. Richard and Maya once again retired to their room to rest and catch up on their lack of sleep. As they lay on bed, cuddled in each other’s arms, they continued to muse on the day’s events.

“I never really thought that anyone can experience this much happiness,” muttered Richard. “I really can’t ask for anything more. Basta maging okay, healthy and safe lang kayo ng baby natin, it’s all more than enough for me.”

“Ako rin honey.Wala ring pagsidlan ang kaligayahan na meron ako ngayon.” With so much joy and gladness, tears started to form in her eyes as her heart is overwhelmed with so much emotion.

Richard noticed the tears in his wife’s eyes. “Are you crying?”

Maya let out a chuckle. “Na-overwhelm lang ako. Sobrang saya ko lang talaga. This may have come as a surprise, but it’s a very much welcomed surprise. This is by far the best gift, the best blessing that we could ever have as a couple.”

Richard smiled and kissed his wife’s forehead tenderly. After a beat, his ringing phone broke the silence. Richard reached for his phone and checked the caller. “Si Rafi.”

“Sagutin mo then i-speaker phone mo para makausap ko din,” suggested Maya.

Richard obliged with his wife’s idea. He answered the call, placing it on speaker phone and held it in between him and Maya. “Hi Rafi!”

“Richard Lim!!!” roared Rafi on the other end of the line.

Richard raised a brow while Maya tried to stifle a laugh. “You really are so sweet Rafi! I’m fine thanks for asking.”

“Ha! Ha! Very funny Richard!!”

Richard smirked in response. “Ikaw naman kasi, nakasigaw ka agad sa akin. What’s up and why are you calling at this hour? Shouldn’t you still be in bed right now? Anong oras palang diyan ah.”

“I just a finished a couple of important documents and was already about to go to bed when Tita Esmeralda called me,” said Rafi, annoyance still evident in her voice.

“And because Mama disturbed your supposed sleeping time, you chose to pour your outrage on me? You really are so sweet and kind to your best friend Raf.”

“At naaalala mo pa palang best friend mo ako! Ha!”

“Okay. Okay. Chill will you,” chuckled Richard. “Alright, what have I done wrong again this time?” Richard glanced at Maya who was just listening in amusement at their exchange.

“What have you done wrong?? Tinatanong mo pa! Goodness Chard! Kung hindi pa ako tinawagan ni Tita Esme, hindi ko pa malalaman ang tungkol sa magandang balita!!”

Richard motioned for Maya not to speak yet. “Ah so nakarating na pala sa’yo ang balita?”

“Yes!! At buti pa si Tita Esme, naisipang balitaan ako unlike yung tinuring kong best friend, hindi man lang ako naisipang balitaan!” whined Rafi further.

Richard laughed. “Okay. I’m sorry alright. It came as a surprise to everyone lalo na sa akin. Who would’ve thought that at my age, magkakaroon pa ako ng kapatid?”

“What??!” exclaimed Rafi in disbelief.

“Di ba yun yung news na binalita sa’yo ni Mama? That she’s pregnant and I’ll soon become a kuya?”

“Richard!! Ikaw –“ Rafi stopped as she heard fits of laughter on the other end of the line. “Wait is that Maya?”

“Hi Rafi!” greeted Maya. “Kumusta ka na?”

“Oh my god Maya! I’m good! Ikaw? Ikaw ang kumusta? Teka teka. Kanina ka pa ba nakikinig diyan?”

“Umm.. Yes. Guilty as charged,” admitted Maya.

“Tsk tsk. Kayong mag-asawa ha. Maya nahahawa ka na sa mga kalokohan niyang si Chard!”

“Me? I’m such a good boy kaya! Si Angel nga ang nanghahawa sa akin ng mga kalokohan niya eh!” said Richard.

Maya playfully slapped her husband’s arm. “Ikaw honey. Ang kapal mo talaga kahit kalian!”

Rafi chuckled. “Okay mamaya na kayo maglambingan diyan. You two still have lots of explaining to do! Bakit hindi niyo ako sinabihan agad na magkaka-baby na pala kayo huh? Buti pa talaga si Tita Esme at naalala ako!”

“Raf, kanina lang namin nalaman ni Maya ang tungkol dito. Besides, we do intend to share the news with you, pero ayan at naunahan lang kami ni Mama,” explained Richard.

“Oo nga Rafi. Balak naman talaga namin na masabihan ka agad. Supposedly later this evening para siguradong maabutan ka namin sa umaga,” backed Maya.

“Okay fine! Abswelto na kayong dalawa. So guys tell me, how is it? What are you guys feeling?” asked Rafi excitedly.

“Very happy Rafi. More than words could ever describe. It’s overwhelming,” shared Richard.

“Nakaka-excite siya ng sobra Rafi. Ito ngang si Richard hindi na maka-antay na lumabas yung baby at ng makalaro na daw niya ito at maipasyal,” chuckled Maya.

Rafi laughed. “Oh my God Chard! Hindi mo agad agad magagawa yun paglabas na paglabas ng baby mo noh!”

“I know! But am just excited!”

“Para kang si Tita Esme. Hindi rin ma-contain ang excitement niya.”

“Obviously. Kaya tignan mo, naunahan niya talaga kami sa pagbalita sa’yo,” said Richard.

“Hayaan mo na Chard. First apo eh, kaya excited lang talaga. Matatawa ka nga kasi parang nag-aagawan pa sila ng phone ni Tito Roberto at nag-uunahan sa pagsabi sa akin,” laughed Rafi.

Richard shakes his head in amusement.

“Nakakatuwa naman sila Papa at Mama,” remarked Maya.

“Sinabi mo pa Maya. Ngayon palang excited na silang talaga sa pagdating ng apo nila. Naku! You guys should ready yourselves. I have a feeling na mai-ispoil ang anak niyo sa mga lolo at lola nila,” said Rafi.

“Malamang nga Rafi,” agreed Richard.

“O pano guys? I’ll talk to you some other time. I’ll hit the bed na at magpahinga.”

“Ok Rafi. By the way, send my regards to Charlie okay?”

Rafi sighed on the other end of the line. “Okay I will.”

“Hey. What’s with the sigh? Don’t tell me may tampuhan na naman kayo?” probed Richard.

“No, we’re okay. Wala lang kasi siya dito ngayon. He needs to finish a project in Singapore kaya 1 week din siya don,” explained Rafi.

“Now that explains why you’re so grumpy!” pointed Richard.

“Am not grumpy Chard!! I’m just tired from work and missing my fiancée that’s all.”

Richard and Maya laughed. “Whatever you say Rafi. Sige na, matulog ka na at magpahinga kang mabuti para mawala ang pagod mo.”

“I will. Congratulations to you guys! Basta kailangan Ninang ako niyan ha?”

“Ayoko nga! Ano nalang values ang makukuha ng anak ko sa’yo?” teased Richard.

“Richard!!”

The couple laughed once more. “I was just teasing!” admitted Richard. “Sige na, magpahinga ka na. Talk to you soon.”

“Alright. You guys take care ha. Congratulations once again.”

“Thanks Rafi. Bye.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The festive mood inside the mansion continued on until evening. As the couple went down from their bedroom to join their family for dinner, they were surprised by the amount of dishes prepared.

“Wow! Ang dami naman yatang naka-handang food for tonight,” remarked Richard.

“Oo nga. Parang may handaan or fiesta lang,” said Maya.

Esmerlada chuckled. “It’s because we’re still in a festive mood. We all are.”

“Oo nga apo. Hayaan niyo na kami at kami ay lubos lamang na nagagalak sa magandang balita na binahagi niyo sa amin,” said Mamang.

With that, the family once again shared an evening of thanksgiving and laughter. And just like what happened over lunch, their dinner extended for more than two hours. As everyone left the dining table, Richard asked Maya that they stay at the verandah for a while. Maya then decided to prepare a cup of coffee for her husband and a glass of warm milk for her.

As they were finishing up their drinks, Richard’s phone beeped, indicating that a text has been received. He opened the message and secretly smiled. After typing a reply, he gazed back at his wife. “Gusto mo na bang bumalik sa kwarto?”

“Umm.. Di pa naman ako inaantok honey. Bakit inaantok ka na ba?”

“Eh, parang gusto ko na ngang magpahinga sana.”

Maya smiled tenderly at her husband. “Ok. Tara, balik na tayo sa kwarto.”

“Ok lang sa’yo? Baka kasi gusto mo pang magpahangin pa ng ilang sandali dito?”

Maya stood up and reached for Richard’s hand and entiwined it with hers. “Honey okay lang. Saka gabi narin naman na. Tara na.”

Richard stood up and hugged his wife. He draped his arm around her as they walked back to their bedroom. As they reached their room, Richard opened the door for her wife and let her in first.

Maya gasped at the sight of scented candles everywhere, rose petals scattered all over the floor and all over their bed, thus providing a romantic sensual atmosphere across the room.

Richard snuck up behind her, wrapped his arms around her waist and planted a kiss on her shoulder. “Do you like it?”

“Pa-paano mo nagawa ito?”

Richard smiled. “A couple of people lend me a hand to execute this properly.”

Maya turned around from his hold. “Sino naman?”

“Well I asked Kute’s help, Doris and Sabel as well.”

“Pero para saan ang lahat ng ito?” smiled Maya.

Richard gave her a quick kiss on her lips. “We’re celebrating aren’t we? Hindi man lang kasi ako nakagawa ng something special for you or take you out somewhere to celebrate kaya ito nalang ang naisip ko.”

Maya wrapped her arms around her husband’s neck. “Honey. Hindi mo naman na kailangan pang gumawa ng anything special o ang dalhin pa ako sa kung saan. Enough na sa akin ang makita kang masaya about sa balita. At yung mga ginawa nila Mama kanina, sobra sobra na ang mga yun. Wala na akong mahihilang pa.”

“But still, I wanted to make up with you. I wanted us to always remember this day, how specially significant this day is for us.”

Maya pulled Richard for a hug. “Thanks honey. And I will never ever forget this day.”

Richard planted a kiss on Maya’s head. “So do you want to use the bathroom first?”

Maya pulled back from the hug and raised a brow at Richard.

“What?” he asked trying to sound innocent.

“Akala ko ba gusto mo ng magpahinga?”

“I’m just asking if you wanted to use the bathroom first,” chuckled Richard. “May kailangan din kasi akong kuhanin sa labas kaya sige na, mauna ka ng gumamit ng bathroom.”

Maya stared at his husband. Seeing nothing mischievous in his features, she eventually relented and went to the bathroom for her evening shower. But as soon as she entered the bathroom, Richard gathered his PJs hidden behind the armrest of the sofa and ran to the bathroom of the spare room and had a quick shower there, making sure that he’ll finish up before Maya does. Once done, he immediately went back to their bedroom wearing nothing but only his Pajama bottom. Maya’s still nowhere in sight. He opened the bathroom door slightly and heard the cascading water coming from the shower. He then decided to lay on top of their bed and wait patiently for her to come out.

Maya on the other hand remained oblivious to the rest of the surprise that her husband had prepared beforehand. Finishing off her shower, she turned the faucet off and dried herself up. She proceeded to the walk-in closet and was about to get a pair of PJs when something caught her eye. She saw a note attached to a red silk lingerie that’s hanging inside. She took the note and read it:

I really love seeing you in this. Could you wear it tonight, please? 🙂

Maya shake her head in amusement. She took the lingerie out of the closet. She then remembered the first time she gave herself to him. That first night in Santorini Greece. She smiled at the memory of that very special night. She then wore the said lingerie but unlike the first time she wore it, she no longer found the need to conceal it with a bathrobe. She bravely went out of the bathroom and padded on their bedroom, surprised to see her husband half-naked, with his back leaning against the headboard and legs stretched out.

“Wow!”

Maya smiled bashfully as she saw the admiration in his eyes.

Richard got out of bed and moved towards Maya. With a flick on a remote, music started to fill their room. He knelt on one knee and held out his hand to Maya. “May I have this dance Mrs. Lim?”

Maya chuckled and placed her hand to his. “With much pleasure Mr. Lim.”

Richard stood and gathered Maya in his arms. He directed her hands around his nape as he wrapped his arms around her waist and started to sway to the beat of the music.

“Akala ko ba gusto mo ng magpahinga?”

“I only said that para umakyat na tayo dito and makita mo what I have prepared for you. Besides, the night is still young.”

“The night is still young huh?” reiterated Maya.

“Uh-huh. The night is still young.” He leaned closer to his wife and whispered to her ear. “And I am hot.”

Maya laughed. “Alam mo ikaw honey kung anu-ano mga napupulot mong kalokohan!”

Richard laughed with her. “Bakit? Totoo naman ang sinasabi ko ah.”

“Fine. Hot ka na kung hot.”

As their laughter died and continued to dance, Maya wrapped her arms around Richard’s torso as she leaned her cheeks against his chest. Richard on the other hand hugged her tighter and rested his cheek on top of her head. Their eyes closed as they savoured each other’s presence and warmth. Letting their hearts speak for themselves.

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