Hello! Thank you for liking my previous posts, and an extra thank you to those who took the time to leave a comment. I really appreciate it, kahit hindi na ako naka-reply. Ni-like ko na lang lahat, hehe! I started this a long time ago, ngayon ko lang naisipang tapusin. This should be around the time after they sang at the comedy bar when they were fast-forwarding Maya’s pregnancy.
Maya waited for Joma, their driver, to open the car, hoping she was not too late to surprise her husband with a lunch date. She would have arrived sooner, but got held up by traffic. She had called his secretary earlier to confirm that he did not have any meetings until mid-afternoon, so maybe they could linger over lunch as well. Richard had been so busy lately, they were taking in more clients, and he had been lending a hand at their Clark hangar, one of his chief engineers was sick. Though his men were well trained, they still needed a senior to oversee their work, so he had been doing overtime, coming home late. She smiled as Joma solicitously held the door for her and held her elbow. She slowly got off, supporting her belly as she did. She smoothed the new maternity dress she had bought on the weekend, blue, their favorite color. She also sprayed on a little of the perfume he liked, just a little, as she was still a bit sensitive to strong scents. She was determined to spend even just a little time with him today, as this was a special day, and they had agreed to celebrate it only once.
“Salamat, Kuya Joma.”
“Walang anuman, Mrs. Chief. Siguradong matutuwa si Ser na si-nurprise nyo siya,” Joma smiled back. It always warms his heart to see this couple do unexpected sweet things for each other.
“Text na lang kita pag susunduin mo na ako.”
“Walang problema, Mrs. Chief.”
As Maya rode the elevator to the floor housing the offices of Lim Aviation Services, she smiled to herself. Siguradong nakalimutan na niya, she thought. She knew he did. They were already married, why celebrate this? Still, she wanted to. Everything happened so fast, becoming a couple, getting married, now they were going to have children, all in a space of one year. Besides, they haven’t been spending quality time together lately.
“Sweetheart!?” Richard was surprised. He had just stepped out from his office.
“Sweetheart!” Maya launched herself into her husband’s arms and gave him a big hug. His arms automatically went around her.
“Bakit nandito ka? Shouldn’t you be at work?” He wondered.
She pulled back a little. “Nagpalit kami ng restday ni Lynn. Tumawag ako kay Minerva. Mamaya pa naman ang meeting mo kaya inisip ko na ayain kang mag-lunch. Puede ba?” She asked sweetly.
“Ummm…,” Richard hesitated. Then Maya noticed his secretary, Minerva, behind him, who looked nervous, and also Lisa, who was smiling at her.
“Hi, Lisa! Hi, Minerva!” She greeted before turning back to him, “hindi puede?” She tried to keep the disappointment from her voice.
Richard tried not to glance at his watch. “Well, I had the meeting moved earlier just now, I need to be at Clark again,” he felt his wife’s disappointment, although she hid it well in her expression. “I can only do lunch for 30 minutes. I had the meeting moved para mas maaga akong makapunta ng Clark at para mas maaga din akong makabalik. I know that I haven’t been spending much time with you lately but this will be the last. Engineer Gutierez can come to work tomorrow,” he smiled to appease her.
“Ah, ganun ba? Ganito na lang, gawin mo na lang kung ano ang dapat mong gawin. Wag na lang tayong mag-lunch, pero, maaga kang dadating mamaya ha?” She exaggerated her puppy-dog look. She knew he would insist on having lunch with her if he knew how she felt and she did not want to be a bother to him when it comes to work. Besides, 30 minutes was such a short time.
“I’ll make it by dinner,” he promised. They hugged again, and he kissed her softly on the lips, ignoring his amused audience. Maya blushed and gave a shy smile. “O, sige na, tatawagan ko pa si Kuya Joma. Kaaalis lang nun. Hindi pa siya nakakalayo.”
“Ihatid na kita. Pababa din kami.” As she made the call, he took her hand and held it all the way to the parking lot where Joma was waiting. He opened the car door for her. “I’m sorry, sweetheart,” he said, his voice full of regret.
Maya could not look at him in the eye. She made light of the situation. “Ano ka ba? Ok lang ako. Basta, umuwi kang maaga ha?” She gave him a quick peck on the cheek and hurriedly slipped inside. Richard closed the door and stood watching until the car turned the corner. He sighed. He wanted to forget about the meeting and Clark and just spend time with her. This lunch was important to her, he knew, he just couldn’t think why. He rubbed his temple, wishing that the day would be over so he could come home.
“Hey, Chard, what’s up? How are you? The kids? Maya?” Rafi greeted. Richard gave a sigh. He was on break. He decided to call her. “O, what’s the problem?” She could sense that he was bothered.
“Rafi, I think I forgot something. Maya came to surprise me for lunch,” he said.
She laughed. “What’s so unusual about that?”
He sighed again, wondering how to tell her. “Well, the only other time she surprised me like that was before we got married, but that time it was dinner, and she brought my favorite food. This time, she asked me for a date.”
“Really?!” Rafi was amazed. She had always thought that it was just natural for Maya to do those things, given her sweet nature. Richard quickly explained. “Don’t get me wrong. Maya is sweet, just not in that way.”
“Hala, Chard, baka naman may nagawa siyang kasalanan and she’s too embarrassed to tell you.”
“No, I don’t think it’s that. She would have told me. Actually, she’s been giving little hints since last week, I just can’t figure them out.”
“Ummm, she was looking at the calendar last week, and she said na malapit na. When I asked her what it was, she just smiled. At first I thought it was her birthday, but now I’m sure it’s not.”
“What else?” Rafi was trying to think as well.
“I can’t explain the others, Rafi. Basta, they were hints.”
“O-o-k…well, you did ask what the occasion was, and we’ve already ruled out her birthday. Is there another occasion coming up? What else happened last year that was significant before her birthday?”
Richard rubbed his forefinger on his lower lip as he tried to recall. March would be Luke and Abby’s graduation. May was Maya’s…he smiled. It was the day she told him she loved him, for real, on her own, no prompting…a few days later…Mother’s day…Mother’s Day…!
“That’s it! It’s the anniversary of being us…of being a couple, you know,” he added, feeling awkward and embarrassed, knowing Rafi would probably laugh. He was no longer a teenager, for goodness sake, and they were already married, but if his wife still wishes to celebrate it, then he would do everything to fulfill it. But how? He no longer had the time!
“What?! Chard, you should fix this. You know how sentimental Maya is, and you told me that you agreed to celebrate only the firsts, weeksary, monthsary and anniversary.”
“I know. Any ideas?” He was suddenly in a panic.
“Hmmm…this is too sudden. Why not do a re-enactment of the time na sinagot ka niya? Take her back to that place, do what you did?”
“Rafi, sinagot niya ako dun sa most romantic place sa San Nicolas. I can’t just bring her there. Besides, she’s pregnant. Ayokong mapagod siya. I’m here at Clark. I don’t even know if I could make it home in time for dinner like I promised.”
“Naku, Chard…” Rafi’s voice was full of sympathy. There was a slight pause; suddenly she chuckled.
“Why are you laughing?” Richard sounded offended.
“Here’s a cheesy idea. Why not apologize big time to her. Call up a radio station and send her-,”
“Rafi, thank you!” He interrupted. An idea had formed in his mind.
“You’re really going to do it?” She asked, disbelievingly.
“Rafi, I gotta go. No Time!”
“Hey, Chard, wait-,” Rafi tried to ask some more but Richard had already hung up.
Dinner was over and Richard had not arrived. Only the children had eaten. She was here now, in their veranda, gazing mournfully down at the spot in the garden where she and Richard celebrated their monthsary as a couple last year. She had hinted about it to him, telling him that the garden was the most romantic place for her, more so than here, where they always have their coffee dates. He had been curious why, of course, but she let him figure it out. Apparently, he never did, as he was also clueless about the other little hints she’d been dropping the whole week. Sighing, she tried to think happier thoughts as she made her way to one of the chairs, rubbing her belly. Negative vibes would not be good for the twins. As she sat, she heard Manang Fe’s radio playing nearby. At first, she paid no heed to it, but the songs gradually seeped into her consciousness, all of them significant. The Way You Look Tonight, Be Careful With my Heart, Ligaya, Chinito…Her eyes widened in disbelief. Pati yun?
After the last song, The Dj read a short message, “there’s a message from one of our callers, Richard, to the woman whom he calls his miracle. Yihee!” The female Dj could not contain her kilig:
To Maya, my miracle, I told you before that the day you said na tayo na and agreed to be my girlfriend was the happiest day of my life, and yet here I forgot to celebrate it again, just like the time I also forgot to celebrate our first wonderful week of being together. I’m sorry, sweetheart. I may have forgotten the date, but I will always remember its significance. Thank you for accepting me, for loving me, and for giving us a chance. I hope it’s not too late for this day to still be a happy anniversary. I love you.
“Awww, that was so sweet. Maya, here’s a song for you, and Happy Anniversary!” The Dj then played another one of their songs, Sorry na Puede ba.
Maya could not help but laugh and cry at the same time. She was so touched that Richard did this for her, knowing him. This was levels up. He hardly even listens to the radio. She heard snickering from behind. Before she could turn around, her children were already in front of her.
“Yun, O!” Luke was about to greet her when he stopped. Nikki and Abby had dismayed looks on their faces.
Abby approached her, taking her hands. “Tita mommy, why are you crying po? Ayaw nyo po ba dun sa message ni daddy?”
Maya gave a little laugh, tears streaming from her eyes. “Gustong-gusto ko ang message niya, baby. Tears of joy lang ito, promise,” She tried wiping her tears with her hands.
“Ayun naman pala, e. Happy Anniversary, Tita mommy,” Luke bent to give her a hug.
“Happy Anniversary, Tita mommy,” Nikki seconded, also giving her a hug.
Not to be left out, Abby hugged her too. “Happy Anniversary, Tita mommy.”
“Aaawww, ang su-sweet naman ng mga anak ko, mana sa daddy nila,” Maya spread her arms to encompass all three, while Abby gently lay her hand on her tummy. After a moment, Luke raised his head.
“Sya nga pala, Tita mommy, nag-text si dad. Malapit na pala siya. Magbihis daw kayo.”
“Ha? Pero, nagluto ako…,” she suddenly remembered that that was what he also told her to do the day after their weeksary, when he insisted on celebrating it again by taking her out.
“Sige na, Tita mommy, wear that blue dress daw that you wore kanina. He said he wasn’t able to appreciate it kasi nagmamadali kayo pareho,” Nikki encouraged her.
Napansin din pala niya, Maya smiled. She was actually planning to wear it during dinner, if he had arrived. She did not notice the three exchange looks.
Abby pulled her hand, “sige na, Tita mommy, magbihis na po kayo, para pagdating ni daddy, ready ka na.”
“Ha? Ah, O, sige,” she stood up.
“Hintayin nyo na lang po sa kwarto si daddy, Tita Mommy, wag na po kayong bumaba, para hindi kayo masyadong mapagod,” Abby sweetly told her.
“Hmmm, kayo talaga,” she chuckled, “sige iwan ko muna kayo, ha?”
“Ok, Tita mommy,” Nikki gave a cute wave. They watched as she made her way inside.
She was asleep. Richard entered silently. He stood by the bed, staring at her. A year ago, today, she agreed to become his girlfriend. He smiled wistfully. For a middle-aged widower and a father of three, having a girlfriend seemed so…unsuitable; but this woman, this miracle that God gave him, accepted everything that he is, and loved him, completely and unconditionally. She bravely faced his children’s initial rejection and parent’s disapproval, and then turned them around by just being her true self. That is why a year later, today, she is now his wife. He could never let her go. He bent to tenderly smooth her hair then leaned in to give her a kiss. Maya stirred, waking up slowly, smiling against his lips. She opened her eyes.
“Happy Anniversary, sweetheart,” he said softly, unsure of his greeting. He presented her with a bouquet of her favorite, sunflowers. “I’m sorry I forgot,” he said, quietly. Tears started to pool in her eyes.
“Wala na yun. Ako lang naman itong maarte, e. Kasal na tayo, naiintindihan ko kung bakit hindi na naman siyang kailangang i-celebrate. Gusto ko lang naman na makasama ka ngayong araw. Na-miss kasi kita, e,” the tears fell as she tried to explain.
“I always miss you,” he said feelingly, sitting down and taking the bouquet, setting it aside to gather her in his arms. He kissed her hair. “Wag mong bale-walain ang araw na ito just to make me feel better. It’s my fault I forgot. We agreed to celebrate today because it is important. Even though you’re my wife now, kung hindi mo ako sinagot, walang tayo,” he hugged her tighter, “I love you so much.”
“Mahal na mahal din kita, sweetheart. Happy Anniversary!” She sniffed as she returned the hug.
“Hey, baka makasama sa kambal ang pag-iyak mo,” he leaned back, concerned. He wiped her tears gently with the backs of his fingers. She smiled to reassure him. “Halika na?” He took her hand.
“Sweetheart, kailangan pa ba nating umalis? Nagluto kasi ako, tapos nag-bake sina Nikki at Abby…,”
“I know. I just told them na pagbihisin ka because you bought this dress especially for today, di ba? Akala mo hindi ko mapapansin?” He took her chin by by his fingers. “You will always be beautiful to me, no matter what you wear.”
“Hmm, ikaw talaga,” she gave a little pinch on his side. He laughed. “Tayo na nga, ginugutom na ako,” she stood up as he assisted her, holding her elbows.
“Hindi ka dapat nag-papagutom, sweetheart,” he reproached.
“Huwag kang mag-alala, sweetheart, kumain naman ako ng merienda, at uminom ng gatas bago naghapunan ang mga bata.”
“Good!” He took her hand again, “let’s go!”
To her surprise, Richard skipped the car and led her all the way around to the back, taking the long way. The children were waiting. They had prepared a romantic table setting for them, at the same spot she was looking at a while ago. The table was covered in white, and they had spread the dishes she had cooked earlier. A small vase at the center held a single red rose. Beside their plates were wine glasses, filled with apple juice, to mimic wine. There was a stool at the side, also covered with a white cloth, where they placed a tray with a pitcher of water, two glasses, and a bell. The candles were lit and they had turned off the lights on this side of the house.
“Surprise!” They shouted. Richard was eyeing their efforts.
“Parang hindi naman masyadong romantic ‘to, Nikki,” he observed.
“I know, dad, paano kasi dapat individual plates lang, kaso kuya insisted na ilagay lahat ng ulam kasi baka kulang kay Tita mommy ang isang plato. Eh it’s so hirap to go all the way down ng paulit-ulit. Sinama na tuloy namin ang tubig. Besides, makaka-istorbo pa yun sa date nyo kung pabalik-balik kami,” she explained.
Maya giggled. “Grabe naman kayo. Hindi naman siguro ako ganoon kalakas kumain.” Her eyes were misty. “Thank you, Luke, Nikki, Abby. Sobrang touched ako.”
Richard raised an eyebrow. “Sa kanila ka lang touched?”
“Thank you, sweetheart.” Her tears started again. “Pa-group hug nga.” They all gathered for the hug, Richard joining in.
When they broke apart, Abby told Maya, “Tita mommy, kung may kailangan pa po kayo, just ring the bell.”
“Thank you, Baby,” she smoothed Abby’s hair. As the children left, Richard pulled out her chair.
He had his arm around her shoulders, she was leaning her head on his, their heads touching. The children, with the help of Joma, Doris, and Sabel, had already cleared all the remnants of their date. They were seated now at the bench where they had fallen asleep before, enjoying a comfortable silence.
“Happy, sweetheart?” Richard asked, pulling her closer.
“Very happy, sweetheart, salamat, ha,” she tilted her head upwards to smile at him, her expression turning wistful as she gazed at his face.
Richard, who was expecting a kiss, raised an eyebrow. “What is it?”
“Naalala mo pa ba? Kung hindi namatay si Mamang, dapat ngayon yung araw ng kasal natin.”
He was surprised. He had forgotten about it. When Nay Tereseita told them to go ahead with the wedding, he was happy to stick to their original plan until he saw her reciting the wedding vows at the wedding planner’s shop. He felt a sudden rush of emotions that time, and she looked so beautiful, that he could not wait any longer. He decided to move the date of their wedding earlier. He smiled ruefully. “Would you have changed anything?”
Maya shook her head as she leaned back to tenderly cup his face. “Alam mo ang sagot dyan, Mr. Lim,” she said, and this time, she did kiss him, pouring all the love she felt for him in the kiss. He moaned softly when she pulled away, his eyes still closed. He opened them slowly.
“Ang sarap naman,” he smiled, “I love you.”
She ducked her head, suddenly shy, “I love you, too.” When she looked up again, she met his eyes, and they both chuckled, feeling like teenagers and who just shared a kiss for the first time.
“Sweetheart…” Richard took one of her hands in his and intertwined their fingers. She was leaning her head on his shoulder again.
“What made you decide na sagutin ako?”
She giggled. Although she had admitted to him that she had loved him even before, she had not told him what made her say yes. “Di ba nung graduation ko, sinundo mo si Kute para lang makarating siya on time? Hinanap din kaya kita. Nalungkot ako nung wala ka. Tapos nung sinabi ni Kute yung dahilan, at nung dumating ka tapos sinabi mo na you would do anything to make me happy, yun.”
“Anong yun?” He smirked.
“Yun na! Kaya nga sinabihan na kita ng I love you. Huuu, gusto mo lang marinig, e,” she poked his cheek gently. He was grinning.
“Siempre, akala mo ikaw lang ang may gustong kiligin?” They laughed together. When their laughter subsided, she sighed.
“Sobrang saya ko lang. This is the best anniversary celebration, sweetheart. Akala ko talaga, hindi magiging memorable ang araw na ito.”
He too sighed loudly, pretending to be relieved. “Mabuti naman. Pagkatapos ng mga ginawa ko, wala na nga akong mukhang ipapakita sa opisina, it was worth it.”
Maya covered her mouth as she tried to suppress her giggles. During dinner, Richard had narrated to her the lengths he went through just to find a radio station that would play the songs he wanted, and to play them consecutively. The quest, much to his chagrin, involved a lot more people in the office than he intended. She caressed his cheek. “Awww, ang cute mo naman. Salamat ulit, sweetheart.”
He took the hand and brought it to his lips. “Anything to make you happy,” he said softly, his expression the same as when he first said it to her during her graduation, that she started to tear up.
“Sweetheart,” he said, exasperated and concerned at the same time, “yun lang ang sinabi ko, umiyak ka na?” He gently dabbed at her eyes with his handkerchief.
“Ikaw kasi, e, sobra-sobrang magpakilig,” she smiled as she sniffed.
“Eh palagi ka namang kinikilig sa akin, e, ano na lang ba ang puede kong sabihin?” he teased.
“Ewan ko sa’yo. Hindi naman ako nagrereklamo, a.”
He laughed as he gave her a hug. “Umakyat na nga tayo. It’s getting late. Baka mahamugan ka pa.” They held hands as they made their way inside and up the stairs to their bedroom. “Sweetheart…,” Richard murmured as soon as they entered.
“Hmmm?’ Maya stopped.
He slowly pulled her to him and placed his arms around her waist. “Happy Anniversary!”
She blushed as she felt his desire. They haven’t done it for quite a while. He was always tired from work, and she was having issues with her body. Suddenly, she could not look at him. She felt, rather than heard, his sigh.
“Mauuna na ako sa banyo, ha?” he said lightly. As he moved away, she grew alarmed. She did not want to disappoint him. She clung on to his arm. He raised an eyebrow.
“Ummm, sweetheart, puede pa ba? Hindi ba makakasama sa kambal? Ang taba ko na kasi, eh, baka mabigatan ka…,” she looked up and saw only love and understanding in his eyes.
“Puede…kung gusto mo. We can always get creative,” he winked. She was still blushing. He touched her cheek. “You’re beautiful, sweetheart, and I will always want you,” he said simply, and so sweetly that tears started to pool in her eyes again. She slid her hand down his arm and intertwined their fingers.
“Kung ganoon pala, e, di, tayo na,” she grinned shyly at him.
“Tayo na?” he grinned back, remembering. “Is that a yes, Maya?”
She pinched his cheek lightly. “Yes, Sir Chief ko, tayo na’t sabay maligo para matuloy na natin ang gusto nating matuloy.” She could not meet his eyes again. The blush never left her face.
“Kung ganoon pala, e, di, tayo na,” he tugged at her hand to make her look at him. When she did, his lips descended on hers for a long, passionate kiss.
It took some time before they made it to the bathroom.