Maya just held on to Ricky.
Jeff returned with a flower arrangement for Luke.
Ricky slowly eased his arm from Maya’s hold but Maya didn’t allow it.
She instead held his hand and intertwined her fingers with his.
Ricky was already uncomfortable but he just allowed her.
Jeff smiled at both of them while Cho ran towards his dad.
Maya was smiling brightly. She was excited to finally let Ricky meet her family.
But Ricky couldn’t see her face so he couldn’t help but feel the tension having to meet this guy who seemed to be very close to Maya.
As Jeff was approaching them, Ricky again tried to remove his hand but Maya held it tighter and glanced at him with a wide smile on her face.
Ricky remained apprehensive, uneasy. He can’t help but feel jealous but he tried to hide it by managing to smile at her too.
“Ricky, I want you to meet Jeff Macavinta, my brother in law. Asawa nya yun kapatid ko, si Cristina Rose. Tapos si Cho, anak nila.”
Ricky’s mood suddenly changed. He was relieved.
Learning that the guy was Maya’s brother in law gave him some sort of reassurance that maybe it wasn’t late for him and Maya after all. That gave him hope, at least.
“Kuya Jeff, this is Dr. Richard Lim, si Ricky. Siya yun friend namin ni Luke.”
The two guys shook hands but Ricky’s other hand was still entwined with Maya’s. She never released it and now that he realized that there is nothing to get worried about this guy in front of him, he just savored the closeness brought about by her hand in his.
“Hi Dr. Lim. Now I know why excited si Maya pumunta dito. She told us that you would be here.”
He wondered how Maya knew about him being here with Luke but he just ignored it. He’ll ask her later.
“Jeff. Just call me Ricky. Maya and Luke, they’re special to me kaya I’m here to visit Luke on his birthday.”
He now smiled genuinely.
“Maya ilagay ko na muna eto kay Luke. Pare maiwan ko muna kayo.”
Jeff proceeded to fix the flowers on Luke’s grave and say a prayer for him too.
Maya leaned her head on Ricky’s shoulder. He just allowed her.
“Si Ate Cris hindi nakasama kasi nagpapahinga siya. Buntis kasi. Ipapakilala ko siya sa’yo sa susunod. Nagpahatid lang ako kay Kuya Jeff.”
“I would love to meet her Maya. So babalik kayo ng Dubai? Or you will stay here for good?”
“Di pa sigurado Ricky. Depende yun kina Ate Cris. Sa kanila kasi ako nakatira at sila na lang ang kamag-anak ko eh.”
“Oh I see.”
After a few minutes of praying, Jeff prepared to leave.
“Maya aalis na kami ni Cho. Tawag ka na lang kung may kailangan ka. Doc mauna na kami. Hinatid lang talaga namin si Maya.”
Richard was surprised that Jeff had to leave.
He thought they will be staying for awhile seeing the picnic basket they brought.
Deep inside though, he was thankful to be given this chance to be alone with her.
“Ricky ihatid ko muna sina Kuya Jeff sa kotse. Cho say goodbye na kay Tito Ricky.”
“Goodbye Tito Ricky.”
Jeff and Cho left and the moment she returned to where Ricky was, Maya suddenly felt the tension in the air.
She remembered what happened before she left.
She remembered her immature act of just leaving him behind.
He didn’t deserve what she did.
So to lessen her anxiety, awkwardness, she tried to divert her attention on Snow.
She saw Snow wagging his tail excitedly. She bent to pick up the dog.
Ricky was just observing her but he could definitely see that Maya was all nerves.
“He missed you Maya.”
“Namiss ko rin naman siya. Ang taba mo na Snow pero cute ka pa rin.”
“I missed you Maya. So much.”
Then he was the one who approached her and hugged her tightly again.
Then he guided her to sit on the grass beside where Luke was laid.
“Akala ko Jeff and Cho would stay. Ang dami nyong dalang pagkain.”
“Ah yun mga paborito mo yan. I cooked them for you.” She shyly confessed.
“Oh really? How did you know I was here?”
“Nandito kasi ako last week, pagkadating namin from Dubai, tapos nakita ko yun si Aling Conchita. Siya yun nagkwento sa’kin. Ricky bakit mo ginagawa to?”
“Is it wrong?”
“Hindi! Hindi. Kaya lang mas lalo mo naman akong pinapaguilty nyan.”
He stared at her.
“I promised Luke two things when I left for Singapore the day before he died. One was to take care of you and the other one was to bring him his favorite toys on his birthday.”
“I couldn’t fulfill my first promise Maya. How can I when you hid yourself from me. At least I was able to do my second promise to Luke. I love your son so much Maya. I really do.”
“Alam ko naman yun eh.”
She bowed down her head all the more regretting what she did.
“Sorry Ricky. Akala ko kasi yun ang tama. Nang mga panahon na yun, di na ako nakapag-isip. Alam mo naman sa sulat ko, di ba? Natanggap mo yun di ba?”
“Yes I did and I actually didn’t know what you were sorry for. I couldn’t understand what happened for you to just leave all of a sudden. Akala ko okay tayo. Okay naman talaga tayo noon di ba?
“Eeeh wag na nating pagusapan yun Ricky. Tapos naman na yun.”
“Okay. If you don’t want to talk about it, I won’t force you.”
He smiled at her. He gathered her in his arms and kissed her forehead.
“So your sister, what is she like? I remembered that you weren’t that close to her before.”
“Mabait siya. Nang kasama ko na siya Ricky tinulungan nila ako ng asawa nya.”
“I’m glad to hear that Maya.
“They are working in Dubai? You work there too?”
“Ah oo lahat kami doon nagtratrabaho. I’m a preschool teacher. Actually parang assistant lang pero teacher na rin yun.”
She proudly told him.
“Malayo yun sa tinapos mo na course. You were allowed?”
“Ah oo kasi alam nila na may anak ako dati. Pinoy din sila Ricky. Siguro yun ang basehan nila. Gustong gusto ko yun trabaho ko kasi napapalapit ako sa mga bata. Parang si Luke na rin yun kasama ko.”
“You really love kids.”
“Sobra. Si Cho nga lagi ko siyang kasama. Super close kami. Tapos madadagdagan pa sina Ate Cris. Masaya naman. Masaya kapag may bata sa bahay. Kung di sana kinuha si Luke, may anak pa rin sana ako.”
“You can still have your own child Maya. We can still have our own.”
She suddenly felt uncomfortable with what he was saying. She became fidgety. She let out a nervous laugh.
“Wag ka nga. Binibiro mo naman ako nyan eh.”
“I’m not. I am serious Maya. I’ve always been serious when it comes to you.”
“Ricky naman eh. Ayoko namang maging third party or mistress.”
“What!!?? You think I will make you that?”
“Eh kasi imposible naman na sa dumaan na ilang taon eh wala ka pang asawa or girlfriend. Ayokong may masagasaan or masaktan.”
“You’re not hurting anyone else. It’s only me you’re hurting Maya with what you’re saying now.”
“Wala akong asawa. Wala akong girlfriend. I never had one, I never found anyone when you left. I didn’t even have anyone else when you were still here. I dont know why you seem not to believe it. Why you find it hard to at least like me too. Because for me, it’s only you Maya. It has always been you. Walang iba.”
She felt her eyes burning and getting misty at what she heard from him.
“Ikaw rin naman eh. Wala rin naman akong iba. Sinabi ko na rin naman sa’yo na gusto kita. Inamin ko nga na mahal kita, kaso….”
Then she cried, remembering that embarrassing incident years ago.
“Hey Maya don’t cry. Please don’t cry. We are just talking.”
He hugged her with her head leaning on his shoulder. His arms were around her.
He could still hear her trying to stifle her sobs.
“Excited ako ng birthday mo. Pinaghandaan ko yun araw na yun. Gusto ko special. Gusto ko mapasaya kita. Inipon ko yun lakas ng loob ko. Gusto kitang bigyan ng regalo na akala ko higit na magpapaligaya sa’yo. Hinintay ka namin ni Emman. Tapos ng hindi ka man lang tumawag, ng hindi kita macontact, nag-alala ako Ricky. Akala ko napahamak ka na. Akala ko may nangyari sa’yo.”
He was hugging her tighter, comforting her as she was confessing the events that transpired before, the events which he wasn’t aware of.
“Nung gabi na, nakausap ko si Ms. Liza. Sabi nya sa amin ni Emman puntahan ka namin sa condo mo. Hindi naman talaga ako dapat pumunta doon kasi alam ko na hindi mo naman kami inimbitahan doon. Kahit na binigay mo na sakin yun isang susi mo dun alam ko naman na hindi ako dapat pumasok ng basta na lang. Kaso nag-alala talaga ako Ricky.”
He tried to look at her eyes but she avoided his gaze. She continued…
“Hindi na sumama si Emman sakin. Ihinatid lang nya ako sa lobby ng condo mo. Ako na lang mag-isang pumasok kasi gusto ko talagang makasiguro na okay ka. Tapos hayun pagkapasok ko, naisip ko na pwede ko ng aminin sayo yun matagal ng gusto kong aminin. Kung ano ano ang nasabi ko… (her voice was trembling now…)tapos … tapos biglang iba yun lumabas. Yun girlfriend mo ata yun.”
Then she sobbed openly now, burying her face in his chest.
He embraced her and lovingly kissed the top of her head.
“She is not my girlfriend Maya. I didn’t even know she was there. She’s our head doctor’s daughter and sabi nya tinulungan nya lang ako kasi nalasing ako. I don’t want to sound defensive but it is the truth. We did have a demo for a hospital equipment that day, like I told you, but I was supposed to go to you. Things went out of hand when suddenly our head announced that I was picked to replace him once he retires. They surprised me with a lunch at South Curves, which I couldn’t decline. I left my phone that’s why I couldn’t call you.I tried to text Liza using my colleague’s phone to inform you but i found out she didnt receive my message. I got really drunk and weak that day. I thought it was the wine I had, though I just took a glass. I later found out that the woman you saw, Stephanie slipped some sleeping pills in my drink. I woke up the next day already then I tried to look for you… the heck, I feel like a fool explaining myself. I don’t even know if you believe me.”
He was frustrated and angry now. He hated how fate played with him, with them.
“I believe you Ricky…”
“But not enough to spare a day or even just an hour to let me explain…” his voice betrayed the hurt he felt.
“Sino naman kasing hindi masasaktan ng makita ko yun Stephanie, suot yun regalo ko sa’yo, mukhang galing sa pagtulog, galing sa loob ng kwarto mo. Tapos siya pa pala yun nakarinig ng mga sinabi ko. Tapos galit siya. Anong iisipin ko? Kung ikaw yun nasa kalagayan ko, anong iisipin mo? Alam mo naman kung ano ako Ricky, di ba? Atsaka anong laban ko doon. Ang ganda nya…”
“Sshhhh… no one else is more beautiful than you Maya.”
Then he lighty kissed her forehead, the tip of her nose, both her cheeks.
She blushed at what he did.
“Alam mo bang hiyang hiya ako noon. Akala ko nakagulo ako sa inyo. Natakot ako na magalit ka sa akin kaya lumayo na lang ako….”
He couldn’t take it anymore so he cradled her face between his hands, wiping the tears which are flowing down her cheeks, the slowly he bent and brought his lips to hers.
The both closed their eyes and savored the kiss until Maya was jolted with realization as to where they were. She slightly pushed him.
“Ricky… Nakakahiya may tao…”
“Walang tao Maya.”
“Si Luke oh, nakakahiya kaya…”
He now smiled amused at Maya’s reaction. She was still the same Maya he loved.
“Mas matutuwa pa yan si Luke…”
Then without a warning, he again kissed her, now deeper, with more passion, pouring all the longing he had in his heart for her.
Maya savored the feeling. She stopped thinking.
For now she wanted to follow what her heart feels.
She wanted to be happy now.
Many years have been wasted due to unnecessary assumptions and miscommunication.
She wanted to make it perfect now. She knows she deserves to be happy. She knows she will only be happy with him.