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I wanted to write at least one fanfic about them. 

“Goodbye, Sir,” Rina, Martin’s secretary, called after her boss, as he dashed out of his office at exactly 5:00. Smiling, she shook her head and shut down her computer, done for the day.

“Goodbye, Sir,” Cosovich’s marketing team called out as he passed hurriedly by, sparing them a distracted wave. They grinned knowingly at each other. Mr. Ibarra, their marketing head, looked at them sternly.

A chorus of “bye, Sir’s” followed as he walked towards the elevators. On auto-pilot mode, he smiled and nodded, faces barely registering.

“Ser!” Mang Danilo, the security guard, stood at attention.

“Mang Dan, wala pa ba si Oyo?”

“Eh, ser, nag-CR lang po, mabilis na mabilis lang daw po siya-,”

“Nasaan ang susi?” Martin demanded, and the helpless security guard had no choice but to hand them over to his boss.

“Sabihin mo sa kanya, mag-taxi na lang siya.”

The jeep was already out of sight when Oyo came running. Bent over panting, leaning on his knees, he managed to ask, “nakaabot ako?”

Mang Dan shook his head. “Sabi ko sa’yo, pigilan mo na lang, eh.”

“Haaa, bakit siya ganyan? Ini-etse-pwera na niya ako? Ser Martin, don’t leave meeee,” Oyo moaned dramatically, reaching his arms out towards the direction of the jeep, making Mang Dan shake his head.

 

Martin drove fast but carefully. His heart thumped hard in his chest. It’s been a week and he still could not believe everything is real. His therapist said in time it will pass. He should be able to overcome this fear of losing everything again.

After parking the jeep, he slowly made his way to the elevators.

One…two…three…four...by the time he made it to the penthouse, he had reached twenty. Kalma, Martin…He slowly turned the knob and pushed the door. His heart sank. The unit was sparkling clean, like nobody lived in it. Then his eyes noticed the little things. A small framed wedding picture of him and her on the table, the magazine for cockfighters on the rack, flowers left over from their garden wedding wilting on a vase.

“Han!”

His heart jumped with joy. “Hon!” He hurried quickly to wrap her in a big bear hug.

Mona smiled. She liked this. “Han, kamusta trabaho?” she asked.

“Everything’s great. In three weeks, mag-la-launch na ung merged Elizabethan Beauty ni Lisa and yung Adam line ng Cosovich.”

“Talaga? Ganun kabilis?”

“Oo. Binago lang namin ng konti yung concept na napagkasunduan namin dati nung nasa Laureano pa.”

“Ahhh…,” she rubbed his back comfortingly. He had not let go of her.

“Bakit di mo pa rin nilalagay ang ibang mga gamit mo dito? Parang tuloy mag-isa pa rin ako. Nasaan yung malaking wedding picture natin?”

She laughed, and he finally loosened his hold to look at her face. “Han, konti lang naman mga gamit ko, eh. Puro damit pa. Tsaka, malapit na rin naman tayo lumipat, mas mabuting doon na lang talaga nating gawing tahanan yung bahay natin.”

He smiled, liking the sound of it. “Bahay natin….Nagpalagay na nga pala ako ng maraming tanim dun sa likod. Mga bulaklak. Matutuwa ka,” Martin said excitedly.

“Talaga? Naku, OK yan, marami tayong madidiligan. Eh, yung swimming pool, tapos na ba?”

“Oo. Wag kang mag-alala, hon, nakahanap na ako ng magtuturo sa’yo mag-swimming.”

“Hoh? Sino?”

“Eh, di ako. Sino pa ba?”

“Ayos! Excited na ako!” She laughed, then rubbed under her nose with her finger, conscious of his gaze. “Han..”

“Hm?”

“Gutom ka na ba? Ipaghahain na kita.”

“Wag muna. Kailangan ko pa magdilig.”

She looked at him strangely. “Ha? Anong didiligan mo? Eh konti lang naman yung mga halaman sa labas, tsaka nadiligan ko na yung mga yun kanina.”

“Didiligan ko yung asawa ko,” he said naughtily, tightening his hold on her, “bitin kasi yung honeymoon natin.”

“Aaaayiiii,” Mona screamed with kilig, “han, wag dito,” she protested, blushing.

“Eh bakit, tayo lang naman ang nandito.”

“Ay, oo nga no? Nasanay kasi akong kasama sina mangs at pangs.”

“So, puede na?”

“Aba’y siempre, Martin, na mahal na mahal ko,” she said, puckering her lips.

“I love you, Mona ko,” he whispered before claiming them.

 

 

 

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You and Me Time

“Sweetheart…” Maya put her cup down.

Richard looked at her, eyebrows raised.

“Ano yung pinakamalaking kasalanan na puede kong gawin sa’yo na hindi mo mapapatawad?”

His brow furrowed. “Bakit mo naman naisip itanong yan?”

“Wala lang.”

He sipped his coffee slowly, contemplating. “I guess…infidelity,” he finally answered. “If you cheated on me, I’d find that really hard to forgive.”

“Talaga? Hinding-hindi mo ako mapapatawad?” She narrowed her eyes. “E bakit si nanay, napatawad niya si tatay.”

He shrugged. “Well, maybe, probably, I’d forgive you too, pero matagal din bago mangyari yun.”

“Mmm…” She nodded, pursing her lips.

“Eh, ako?” Richard threw the question back at her.

“Ikaw?”

“Yes.”

“Umm,” she pretended to think, “ganun din.”

“Gaya-gaya.”

“Eh totoo naman,e.”

He laughed then shook his head. “But I really can’t imagine you cheating on me. Alam ko naman na ako lang nakikita mo; and if you did cheat on me, baka pala hindi na rin kita mapapatawad.”

“Ha? Bakit?”

“Kasi baka mamatay na lang ako sa sama ng loob.”

A-huuu…” She reached for his hand and clasped it, looking at him with adoring eyes.

“Kinilig ka nanaman no?” Richard teased.

“Hindi ko mapigilan,” she admitted, grinning.

He chuckled and raised his cup, finishing his drink. Maya continued to gaze at him with a dreamy smile, unconsciously caressing his fingers with her thumb.

“Ubusin mo na yang kape mo,” he said with a smirk.

“Bakit? Inaantok ka na ba?” She asked softly, reluctant to end the light, sweet mood.

“Gusto ko lang pagbigyan ka sa gusto mo.”

“Ha?”

He pointed his lips to their joined hands and wiggled his eyebrows. Maya began to laugh.

 

You and Me Time

Then and Now

 

Maya sighed contentedly as she sat before the fireplace of the master suite she and Richard were staying at for their get-away anniversary celebration. They were supposed to go to San Nicholas again, but due to inclement weather, changed plans and instead left early this morning for the drive to Taal Basilica in Batangas where they attended mass, and afterwards had a hearty brunch before checking-in to this lovely bed and breakfast in Tagaytay. He had the fire turned on and had fallen asleep while she explored the room, and knowing how tired he was, having arrived home late last night, she settled beside him and fell asleep as well.

Beside her, Richard stirred, and she smiled as he opened his eyes. “Sweetheart,” she said softly.

His return smile was wide and lazy, the corners of his eyes crinkling. “Mag-ga-gabi na pala. Bakit hindi mo ako ginising?”

She chuckled. “Umuulan, makulimlim, kaya akala mo gabi na.”

He glanced at his watch. “Mag-a-alas kwatro palang-pala.” He yawned then stretched, looking towards the balcony. “Let’s go outside?” He invited, and at her nod, stood and helped her up.The air smelled fresh, the rain brought a cold breeze, and Taal volcano, though covered by a light mist, looked spectacular.

“Ang sarap dito, sweetheart,” Maya sighed.

“It is,” he agreed as he slipped his arms around her waist and rested his chin on her shoulder. “I’m sorry, sweetheart.”

“Hm? Para saan?”

“I wanted this time for us to enjoy, kaso tinulugan kita.”

She gave a soft snort. “Sus, Ok lang yun. Pagod ka kagabi, tapos maaga pa tayong umalis kanina; tsaka, nakatulog din naman ako, e. Nauna lang akong gumising.” She felt him smile.

“I love you so much, Mrs. Lim.”

“At mas mahal kita ng higit pa, Mr. Lim.”

He snickered. “Uumpisahan ba natin yan?”

She gave his arm a playful swat, sighing as she touched their heads together. “Alam mo ba, may binigay sila kaninang USB na may mga lumang palabas, kung feel daw nating mag-movie marathon kasi nga, ma-bagyo, tapos hindi tayo maka-alis…hulaan mo kung anong nakita ko.”

“Ano?” He leaned back, eyebrows raised, as she turned her head to look at him.

“My Girlfriend’s Engagement!”

“Really?”

“Oo. Mapapanood na natin ng buo…at,” she paused for emphasis, wiggling her eyebrows, “magbibigay sila ng popcorn na hindi sunog!”

He chuckled. “Ganon!”

She wagged a finger at him. “Wala ka nang takas, sweetheart, dahil nakatulog ka na. Hindi na tayo aantukin.” The look on his face made her laugh. Turning back to the view, they went quiet for a while. Maya loved their moments like this. Not talking, just feeling. A gust of wind made her shiver.

“Are you cold?” He held her tighter.

She moved so they were hugging each other, and closed her eyes. “Hmm…Ang sarap mong ka-akap.”

“Ganitong-ganito din tayo dati. Do you remember?” He asked softly.

“Hmmm?”

“Malamig din yung panahon…We were standing in front of a lake…a volcano…”

She giggled, remembering. “Oo nga no…Nawala ako, tapos hinanap mo ako…”

“Ka-ka-picture mo kasi…I was so worried…”

“Napagod na ako kaya umupo na lang…”

“And then when I found you, we held each other, just like this.”

“Na para bang ayaw na natin pakawalan ang isa’t-isa?”

“Eh, hindi naman talaga kita pakakawalan na.”

She sighed. “Akala ko talaga nasira ko na yung honeymoon natin.”

He loosened his hold so he could see her face. “But you didn’t; and it turned out to be the best night of our honeymoon. Alam mo kung bakit?”

She gazed lovingly at him. “Bakit?”

“Because it was the night I finally claimed my wife,” he answered, smiling, but his eyes were solemn.

“Awww, sweetheart,” she said softly, reaching up to caress his cheek. He lowered his head.

Richard’s kisses never failed to evoke sweet and kilig feelings, but now they were magnified ten-fold; maybe it was the mood, or the setting, or because they had just reminisced a significant event in their lives, Maya did not know. She could only, helplessly, respond.

“Sweetheart…” Richard whispered. She opened her eyes. “Ok ka lang?” He teased, but she could see that he too was just as affected by the kiss they just shared.

“Mmm…isa pa,” she purred, and he laughed softly.

“I think I know something better that we can do right now.”

“Hm?”

He winked. “This.” He stooped to lift her up. Giggling, she hung on to him as he carried her over the threshold. To her surprise, instead of the bed, he went and knelt before the fireplace, lowering her gently on the carpeted floor. Her eyebrows rose.

“I just thought this was more romantic” he said, shrugging shyly, “maiba naman.”

She smiled. Come to think of it, they have always made love on a bed.

“Four years of happiness,” he breathed, looking at her with so much love. “Happy Anniversary, sweetheart.”

“Happy anniversary.” She started to reach for him.

“Wait!”

She stopped. Standing up, he comically raised a knee and knocked her bag off the low table beside him, making her laugh.

Sweetheart, hindi naman ganyan ang nangyari,e.”

He grinned wickedly, then shrugged again. Getting down on all fours, he brought his face close to hers. “Now, what was it you wanted, Mrs. Lim?”

She brought her face even closer to his. “Isa pa…”

“Aahhh…marami pa…” For a few seconds, they just gazed at each other; and then, “I love you.” Richard claimed her lips.

Then and Now

Updated

“…then the King married the beautiful Princess and so she became the Queen…”

Richard  looked down and smiled. The twins were asleep at last. Carefully, he bent to give Sunshine a kiss, pulled the blanket up over her shoulders, then stood to transfer Sky to his bed, tuck him in, and also give him a kiss. Finally! He glanced at the stack of books on the side table. Quietly, he padded over and reached for the one on top. It was Abby’s old slam book. He found it earlier while choosing a book to read to the twins. She must’ve accidentally included it when she gave some of her old stuff to her siblings. His wife had written her answers there when she was still Abby’s nanny and he wanted to read them again. Slowly, he opened it, carefully flipping the pages.

Richard Lim. His eyebrows rose in surprise and he smiled widely. Maya had written his name to the questions Who is your first kiss and Who is your first love. She had been too embarassed to add his name before. Scanning the page, he noted changes in her other answers as well.  Tay Arturo’s, his, Luke’s, Nikki’s and the twins’ names were now included on her list of favorite people. She had also added anything my husband cooks for me, kahit sunog to her favorite food, making him chuckle; what made him proud, however, was her name. It was now Maya dela Rosa-Lim.

His phone rang and he hurried out the room as he answered it. “Sweetheart!”

“Sweetheart, sorry, ngayon lang ako nakatawag. Tulog na ba yung kambal?”

“Yes. Medyo late na ngang nakatulog kasi hindi pa inaantok.”

“Sayang, hindi ko naabutan.”

“Oo nga, eh. Naglambing pa nga. They wanted me to read them a story.”

“Ha? Naku, sweetheart, ilang beses ko nang inulit basahin yung mga libro dyan.”

“Kaya nga, kinwentuhan ko na lang sila.”

“Hm? Talaga?” Maya sounded dubious. Making up stories was not one of her husband’s strongest points. “Tungkol saan?”

“About the king who had forgotten how to smile.”

She giggled. “At saan mo naman nahugot yung kwento mong yan?”

“Well,” Richard glanced at the slam book in his hand, “I had inspiration.”

She heard the smile in his voice and raised an eyebrow. “Hmmm, teka lang, Mr. Lim, at sino naman ang  inspirasyon mo dyan? Parang ang saya-saya mo, a. Hindi mo yata ako na-mi-miss katabi ngayong gabi.”

“Silly! You know I always miss you kapag hindi kita nakikita. You were my inspiration for my story, you know. You always find a way to make me smile, kahit wala ka dito.”

There was a little silence. Maya had a big grin on her face. Something about the way he spoke made her kilig and touched at the same time. “Asuus…sige na nga, gabing-gabi na. Bukas na lang tayo mag-bolahan.”

Richard laughed softly, picturing her reaction. “Anong oras ka nga pala darating bukas?”

“Two o’clock ETA, sweetheart.”

“Hindi pala kita masusundo.”

“Oo nga, e, pero ok lang din yun, para makauwi ako ng maaga. Matulungan ko si Sabel…O, sige na, sweetheart, matulog ka na, alam kong pagod ka. Goodnight! I love you!”

“I love you too. Ingat ka.”

 

Maya sat on the bed with a sigh. As she took off her shoes, she saw a book on Richard’s side table and curiously reached for it. Slam book ni Abby? A thought occurred to her, and she smiled. Ito pala yon. She realized what he was referring to last night. She opened it, turning the pages slowly,  reading the names. She saw it right away. It was so untypical, so unexpected, yet so endearingly him.  Just two words, but the sweetness brought a tear to her eye. On his page, below the question, who is your first love, Richard had written in capital letters, LAST LOVE, then her name, Maya Lim.

 

Richard smiled when he saw who was calling. He raised the the phone to his ear and waited.

I Love You.

Updated

Valentine’s Day

“What?! No way!” Richard’s eyes widened in horror.

“Sweetheart, sige na. For once, gawin natin. Andito na tayo, e. Please?”

He shook his head. They were only supposed to go on a date. Of all the cheesiest, corniest, most embarrassing…

“Gusto ko lang talaga siyang subukan. Una’t huling beses na ito, sweetheart.”

He took a deep breath. Darn it, he was going to give in, again! “Maya…”

Soft, pleading eyes looked up at him. “Please?”

He pursed his lips. “Fine!”

Yes! Thank you, sweetheart,” Maya pumped a fist before squeezing his arm and getting off the car. He let out a sigh as he watched her. This evening was not how he envisioned it. For the first time since getting married, they had gone out for a Valentine’s day date. He was surprised when she asked him. She knew he found  the occasion too commercialized and cliche; but wanting to please her, he asked his secretary to book them a table at one of the poshest restaurants in the metro, and waited as she got off from work with a bouquet of roses and token box of chocolates. He was heartened to see the glow on her face. He realized she had wanted them to do this all those times when they had just been celebrating at home with the family.

Bilisan mo, sweetheart, she mouthed, an eager look on her face. Resigned, he shook his head again as he opened his door.

“Let’s just do it here,” he said, looking ill-at-ease, sticking close to the car.

She took his hand. “Mas maganda sa harap, sweetheart.”

He refused to budge. “Mas lalo lang tayong mapapansin nyan.”

“Sweetheart,” she smiled patiently,  “mas lalo ngang hinde kasi lahat tayo, pare-pareho lang ang gagawin. Dito mas maraming nanonood, O.” She pointed  her lips towards the crowd who had gathered to watch.

She was right. He rolled his eyes. “Fine!” He let her lead him to the front near the stage. Maya turned to look at him, eyes shining with excitement. They were just in time. The program’s highlight was about to commence.

“I-enjoy na natin ito, sweetheart,” she told him, suddenly shy.

He raised an eyebrow. She was blushing.

We’ll be starting the countdown, couples…

“Heto na, sweetheart,” she giggled a little nervously.

“Lagot ka sa’kin mamaya,” he told her, as she wrapped her arms around his neck. His hands went to her waist.

10…9…

“Asuus, aminin mo, sweetheart, gusto mo rin naman talagang subukan to, e.”

8…7…

He snorted. “Hindi kaya! I’m just doing this for you.”

6…5…

“Alam ko,” she said softly, “thank you, sweetheart….”

4…3…

“I love you.”

2…

He smiled at last. “I love you more.”

1

 

******

Sweeetheeaart, nakakahiya! Hindi ako makapaniwalang ginawa natin yun!” Maya covered her face in embarrassment. “Fourteen seconds lang pala tayo dapat nag-kiss. Inabot tayo ng mahigit isang minuto.” They had been the center of attention, still lip-locked long after the alloted time was up.”

Richard chuckled. “Ikaw kasi, sasali-sali ng biglaan. May rules pala.”

She groaned. “Eh malay ko ba? Ano ba kasing pumasok sa utak ko?”

“Aba ewan! Mukhang malalagay pa yata tayo sa dyaryo,” he added with a grin. A local tabloid covered the event and had their picture taken.

“Nakuu, buti na lang, wala akong kilala na nagbabasa nun.”

“Me too, but we’ll never know for sure.”

She looked at him in amazement, expecting a different reaction from him. “Hindi ka galit?”

“I don’t think kaya kong magalit, even if I tried,” he sighed. “I was as much an active participant as you.” Cupping her face, he turned serious. “I know I said that Valentine’s day is best spent at home. It was selfish of me not to think about your feelings. I’m sorry. If you want us to go on a date, it’s ok. Wag lang every year; besides, I did enjoy myself today.

“Talaga?”

“Well, yes,” he admitted. “Nung nag-umpisa na yung countdown, I decided to follow your advice. Kaya siguro humaba yung kiss natin,” he smirked.

“Ha?! Sabi ko na nga ba, e.” She gave him an I-told-you-so-look.

“Let’s go home.” He straightened to fasten his seatbelt but Maya stayed his arm.

“Not so fast, Mr. Lim.”

“May gagawin pa tayong iba?” He looked alarmed.

She shook her head. “May surprise ako para sa’yo.” He raised an eyebrow. Using her fist as an imaginary microphone, she announced in her best imitation of a game-show host, “Congratulations, Mr. Lim! You have just won an overnight stay for two at… she whispered the name of a motel popular for its themed rooms, making Richard’s chinky eyes grow big and round.

“Really?!”

She nodded shyly.

“Well, then, if that’s the case, hindi mo na kailangang pang sabihan ako, sweetheart, kasi alam kong mag-e-enjoy talaga ako.”

Maya laughed as he started the car.

 

Valentine’s Day

Their Giving Hearts

A local Christmas carol played as Richard wandered around the mall looking for a gift for his wife. It was almost Christmas and he still had not gotten her anything. They had promised not to give each other gifts, but knew she knows he always breaks that promise. He stepped inside a jewelry store, admiring a simple pearl and gold chain necklace. Maya would love it, just as much as she would love the cheapest pair of fancy earrings. It would not matter what he gave. She would cherish it because he gave it. Sighing, he left, still empty-handed. What do i give her? Someone handed him a flyer, and he accepted it distractedly. A quick read and a smile formed on his lips. He had an idea.

 

It was an hour before midnight and Misa de Gallo had just been concluded. People were crowding at the door, eager to go home and prepare their Noche Buena feast. Richard grabbed Maya’s arm just as she was about to follow the children filing out of the church. “Don’t go yet, sweetheart.”

“Ha? Pero, sweetheart, yung mga bata,” she said, concerned that they might look for them.

“They already know, tsaka, sandali lang naman ito,” he said, taking her hand and heading to another exit that lead to the back of the church.

“Eh saan ba tayo pupunta?”

He grinned at her. “To see your gift.” They turned the corner. “TADA!” Maya gasped in wonderment and surprise. “Merry Christmas, sweetheart!”

A huge tree stood at the center, gaily lighted and heavily decorated with little ornaments that covered all the branches. There was another, bigger tree at the front but this looked different and was more beautiful.

She laughed softly. “Sa akin yang puno na yan?”

“Well, yes, in a way,” he said, smiling tenderly at the expression on her face. “I bought that tree from the charity that makes and sells them every Christmas and donated it to this church. The decorations, pinakyaw ko na yung sa simbahan. I had to order more pa nga para matakpan yung puno.”

She giggled. The church ministry had a little fund-raising project where they sold Christmas decorations, also made by their chosen charity, and those who bought could either keep it or have it hung at the bigger tree at the front. It was also already full of the little ornaments. She turned to him, puzzled.

“I was thinking of a gift for you, pero nahirapan ako,” he explained, “I tried to think of what you would want, but all I could think about is you. Who you are as a person.” He paused then cupped her face, looking solemnly into her eyes, “we are so blessed, sweetheart. I can give you almost everything, materially, and I know that whatever you want, you can have now….so I chose to do this, instead of buying you a gift.”

“Ha?” She responded softly.

He smiled again. “Di ba, nung birthday ko dati, you organized a birthday party for me sa orphanage? The party was for me, but you were also thinking of how it would make the children happy.” He took a deep breath then continued, “I did this because giving back and making others happy would make you happy. This was all done under the name of Maya Lim. I wanted to honor my wife, who is the most generous person I know.”

“Sweetheart!”  

Chuckling, he told her, “but if you want a different gift, I could still give you that.”

She shook her head, reaching up to give him a tight hug. “Thank you,” she said, touched.

He hugged her back. “Do you like it?”

“I love it!” She loosened her hold so she could see his face. “Tama ka na wala na akong mahihiling pa, because I have the best husband in the world, who is the most generous person I know.”

He raised an eyebrow. “Bola!” They laughed. She snaked an arm round his waist as she admired the tree once more.

“Merry Christmas, Daddy, Mommy!” The children greeted loudly behind them. A round of kisses followed.

“How do you like your gift, mommy?” Abby asked.

“Siempre, gustong-gusto, Abby!” Maya exclaimed.

Behind her, Richard whispered, “lahat sila tumulong sa pagsabit ng decorations. Pati yung kambal, marunong na.”

“Talaga? Ang galing naman. Thank you, Sky! Thank you, Sunshine!” She said,bending to kiss them both. “Thank you!” She spread her arms wide to give her older children a big hug.

Laughing, Luke spoke up. “You’re welcome, mommy. Puede na ba tayong umuwi? Ginugutom na ako.”

“Haay, Kuya, you’re always thinking of your stomach,” Nikki complained good-naturedly.

“Ay, oo, sige, mag-ha-hating-gabi na nga pala,” Maya said, ushering them forward. She hung back, intertwining her hand with her husband’s. “Merry Christmas, sweetheart,” she smiled into his eyes.

“Merry Christmas,” he said, and their lips met for a sweet kiss, interrupted by the children who had turned back and were teasing them loudly. Laughing, they joined them and the family celebrated another beautiful and meaningful Christmas.

Their Giving Hearts

Confrontation and Confession

 

Maiba ulit. Wala kasi akong matapos-tapos sa mga inumpisahan kong post bcwmh series na short stories, e, hehe.

The muted sounds of laughter and music drifted from downstairs as Maya made her way out to the wide balcony overlooking the garden, glad to find the area deserted. He was here, the person she wanted, but dreaded to see at the same time; her former boss, Richard Lim. She had been avoiding him, but knew that sooner or later, they should meet.There were things between them that needed to cleared but she did not know how to start. She willed herself to be calm. Kaya mo to, Maya. After taking a deep breath, she counted to ten, then let it all out in a whoosh. Kaya ko to.

“I knew you’d be here.” She jumped at the familiar voice, turning around as Richard stepped out of the shadowed doorway. “Hey,” he said softly. She gave a small smile. He stood beside her and they admired the view quietly for a few minutes. “Iniiwasan mo nanaman ba ako?” He asked at last.

“Bakit mo naman naisip yan?”

“Nothing…It’s just, I haven’t seen you for a week.”

She gave a little laugh. “Kailangan ba talaga natin magkita araw-araw? May mga ginagawa din naman akong iba.”

“I know,” he said, looking at her, “but I want to see you just the same.”

She pursed her lips to suppress a sigh, but could not contain the sudden rush of kilig. Ayan nanaman siya, she thought, her eyebrows meeting in a frown, not knowing how to respond. A familiar melody began to play; it was the song at Luke’s prom.

He held out his hand. “Shall we?”

She hesitated, then stepped into his arms, pressing her cheek against his shoulder as he pulled her near. She closed her eyes as he swayed her gently.

“Are you free tomorrow? There’s a new restaurant I want to try,” he began.

“Kasama mga bata?”

“No, just the two of us.”

“Bakit hindi natin kasama ang mga bata?”

“I just want to spend time with you na tayong dalawa lang.” He paused. “Naiilang ka nanaman ba? I thought we’ve been over this.”

“Eh, kasi, puede namang sumama ang mga bata.”

He leaned back to see her face, his expression confused. “Maya…”

“Ricky, ano ba ito? Parte ba ito ng pagiging friends natin na iba? Hindi ko na kasi maintindihan kung anong patutunguhan nito, e. Bakit hindi na lang tayo maging ordinary friends, period. Nakakalito na kasi,” Maya averted her head, horrified that her voice had cracked. She pushed away from him and he dropped his arms. The silence stretched between them.

Richard bit his lip. “I’m sorry,’ he said quietly, “I should have made my intentions clear from the start. Matagal ko na kasing hindi ginagawa.” She remained silent. He gave a rueful smile, “I’m not really confident when courting a girl.” Taking a deep breath, he began; “how i feel…Maya, I wanted to give you time to get used to our situation first. For a long time, I was your boss. You were my employee. Ikaw pa nga yung naiilang sa pagkakaibigan natin, di ba? I had to convince you to call me by my first name. Gusto kitang ligawan ng tama but I wasn’t sure how. I was so afraid of making a wrong move and give you a reason para iwasan ako.” He sighed then lifted a hand to cup her cheek, gently forcing her to look at him, “but believe me, everything i did, I did because I wanted to show you how I felt. Kaya nga iba kasi, mahal na kita,” he said, looking straight into her eyes, “I love you, Maya,” he said earnestly.

Maya bowed her head, suddenly overwhelmed.

“Please say something.”

She looked up with a tremulous smile. “Wala akong maisip na sabihin. Nakakabigla naman kasi.”

He smiled back. “Hindi pa ba ako masyadong obvious?

“Ayoko lang kasing mag-assume.”

“I’m sorry. I was just waiting for the right time. I know you have a lot on your mind right now. Ka-ka-graduate mo lang and just starting your career. I don’t want to pressure you. I’m willing to wait until you’re ready.”

“Hindi ako makapaniwalang mahal mo nga ako.”

“Well I do,” he said gently, “and I’m glad you know now.”

“Pero Ricky-.”

He held up a hand. “Don’t think too much, Maya. I already said i’m willing to wait, di ba? Whatever your worries, we will face them one by one, but only when you’re ready. I don’t want you troubling yourself over this, Ok?”

She nodded. “Ok….Salamat, Ricky, ha?” She gazed shyly up at him. Another familiar song played and they both laughed as they recognized it. It was an instrumental version of Be Careful With My Heart. “Sinasadya ba ito ni Rafi?” She wondered.

“I wouldn’t be surprised,” he smirked, “she had been nagging me to confess to you already.”

“Si Rafi talaga,” Maya shook her head. “Tayo na nga,” she said briskly, “baka ano pa isipin nun, tuksuhin pa tayo,” unwittingly taking his hand, surprising him.

“Maya?” He tightened his hold, making her stop. She looked questioningly at him. He waited for her to notice. “Nothing,” he said after a few seconds, his smile wide. She shook her head; then hand in hand, they went back inside.

Confrontation and Confession