“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.
“Asuus, aminin mo, sweetheart, gusto mo rin naman talagang subukan to, e.”
He snorted. “Hindi kaya! I’m just doing this for you.”
“Alam ko,” she said softly, “thank you, sweetheart….”
“I love you.”
He smiled at last. “I love you more.”
“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.
“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.
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.