My Safe Refuge 5
“Nikki kain ka lang. What do you want? Just tell Tita Maya okay?”
“Opo. Thank you Tita Maya. Ang saya po dito sa house nyo.”
“You are welcome to stay here if you want. You can tell your daddy to allow you to play with Luke kapag wala naman kayong pasok. Yun sister mo ba you still can’t play with her?”
“She just turned 3 po. Iba pa yun toys nya sa toys ko.” Nikki sadly said.
“Ah ganun ba? You’re an ate pala. Di bale, friend na kayo ni Luke and you can play with Luke anytime you want as long as its okay with your dad.”
“I’m sure okay yun kay daddy. Si Luke din po? Can he play at our house?”
“Okay naman but we have to ask your daddy first.”
Luke and Nikki spent the afternoon at the tree house Maya asked Ryan to build for Luke when the renovation of the house was taking place. Since Luke would just be staying home most of the time, she decided to allot a play area for him. The lawn was also big enough for picnics, which she vowed to do once in a while even by just themselves with Lola Fe and Leah of course. She wanted Luke to experience outdoor life though in their gated home.
Richard had been checking his phone for messages. He’s been obviously distracted when he resumed overseeing the deliveries for the day. He’s got that smile plastered on his face and he’s been humming an upbeat love song the moment he arrived in his office after bringing his parents and youngest daughter home.
Liza, his trusted assistant was amused seeing her boss in a very different mood, indeed far from how he usually is.
“Sir mukhang masayang masaya tayo ah! Siguro nanalo kayo ni Nikki sa games kanina sa school no?” Liza was aware of the Family Day in Nikki’s school.
She has been Richard’s trusted assistant and secretary for many years now.
She was actually a scholar of the senior Lims, of Richard’s parents.
When Richard together with Alex and their kids lived in Manila, Liza stayed with them together with Doris, the kids’ nanny and Joma, a kababata who became her husband as well.
Sabel, their other househelp was left with Roberto and Esmeralda Lim together with their trusted workers, Simon, Lino, Bugoy and Minerva.
Liza was in charge of assisting Alex and Richard in their needs. She was there in every triumph, success and happiness of Richard’s family.
She has been a witness to the love story of her boss and his wife and she was also there when the love story ended when Alex died.
She never left Richard, even when he turned into a very difficult person. She was aware of his grief and she vowed to herself that she will do everything for him and his kids. Even Doris and Joma shared her sentiments.
So when Richard decided to go back to their province so he can be with his parents and raise his daughters there, Liza was the first one to wholeheartedly support him. Even though it means having a totally different life from what they had in Manila, she willingly supported her boss.
Now seeing her boss’ very rare, happy disposition, Liza couldn’t help but believe that maybe her prayers were now being heard and answered.
“Nikki won kanina in one of the group games. Ang galing ng anak ko!” He beamingly shared.
“Wow sir nakakatuwa naman si Niks. Sigurado pagod yun kaya pala wala siya dito ngayon ah!”
Nikki usually stays at their grocery or at her dad’s office when she has no classes. Richard wants to expose her to their business.
She allows Nikki to help in their grocery by counting some stocks, especially in the chocolates section which his daughter loves so much.
That’s how his parents raised him too and it also helped hone his social skills which he wanted his daughter to learn even at her early age.
It’s just like the grocery is Nikki’s big playground and she gets to be the grocer. His charming daughter was loved by all their employees for she was polite and very friendly to everyone.
“Wala si Nikki sa bahay. Nandun sa bahay ng classmate nya. Pinayagan ko makipaglaro kasi kawawa naman.” He was telling Liza with that silly grin still plastered on his face.
He could imagine Luke and he can’t forget the boy’s doe-shaped eyes which looked exactly like his mom’s.
“Oh that’s good Sir. At least may makakalaro na si Niks. Malapit sila dito….”
Then Liza was interrupted by a call to Richard’s cellphone which he excitedly answered.
The excitement didn’t last for more than a few seconds and she heard Richard say…
“Ok just have the orders delivered tomorrow.”
From what she gathered, her boss was excitedly waiting for a call which he may be expecting but turned out not to be that call he just received.
She can’t help but hide a smile because of what she is witnessing.
“Sir, I’ll check on the HR muna. Do you want Joma to fetch Nikki later?”
“No!!!”, he blurted in a louder than necessary voice, then recovered, “I mean… No. I’ll be the one to do it. Wala naman akong lakad mamaya.”
“Ok Sir. Just give me a ring if you want me to do something.”
Then Liza left Richard alone in his office. She can’t help but shake his head and let out a smile for everything she witnessed from her boss.
Richard couldn’t stay still. He was wondering if Maya had misplaced his number. He was expecting her to call about how Nikki is.
Then he received a message.
“Mr. Lim, gusto ng mga bata magswimming dito sa inflatable pool. Papayagan nyo po ba si Nikki?”
He didn’t text back but excitedly called the number. He was happy that Maya finally texted him.
After a few rings….
“Hello Maya. Okay lang. Bahala ka na kay Nikki. Let her do what you think would make her and Luke enjoy. Hindi naman siya naglilikot dyan?” Out of excitement Richard blurted words nonstop.
“Ah Mr. Lim si Leah po eto, yun yaya ni Luke. Pinapatanong po ni Mam Maya. Sige po sasabihin ko sa kanya na okay lang sa’yo.”
The disappointment on his face was epic.
“Ah sige Leah. Pakisabi na lang kay Maya.”
As soon as he ended his call and with that annoyed smirk, he came face to face with his dad who just arrived from his appointment.
“Kasi why didn’t you just get her number kanina?” Roberto teased him.
“Pa why are you here?” He ignored what his dad asked knowing very well that his dad won’t stop bugging him about Maya.
“What kind of question is that Ricky? Of course I regularly visit here. Bawal ba?”
“No no pa! What I mean is, di ba may appointment ka?” He was still annoyed that he can’t think clearly.
“Kanina pa natapos. It’s already 3pm. Bakit ganyan ang mukha mo? Kasi di mo nakausap si Mrs. Dela Rosa or may problema ba sa negosyo?”
“Ah nothing pa. I was just thinking of something.”
“Okay. By the way is Nikki home already? Do you want Joma to pick her up? Dapat ata ipasundo mo na siya.”
“No Pa. Ako ang susundo sa kanya.” Then a smile now formed on his face.
“Well you better get going. I’m sure you don’t want to miss a few minutes of bonding with …”
“Pa don’t start again.” He gave his father a warning glare.
Then Roberto grinned.
As Ricky was preparing to leave…
“Son, tell Mrs. Dela Rosa to prepare. A typhoon is expected to hit the province in a few days. Sabi nila sa katabi naman nating probinsya but it’s better not to leave anything to chance. Alam ko baguhan sila sa San Nicolas. Baka hindi pa sila sanay. It is forecasted to reach Category 5.”
“Yes pa. I’ll tell her.”
“Sige son. Ingat.”
Then he hurriedly left to fetch Nikki.
Richard arrived a quarter before 4 at Maya’s house. He was ushered by Leah to the backyard where Maya was watching over Luke and Nikki who were playing in the inflatable pool.
He handed Maya a cake which he bought along the way.
“Dad you’re so early. Kakastart lang namin magswim and daddy you bought the same cake that Tita Maya gave me kanina.” Then Nikki giggled.
He sheepishly smiled at Maya and she returned it with a smile too.
“Ay.. There’s only one bakeshop here and this is their best cake kaya eto rin nabili ko.”
“Thank you dito sa cake. Favorite to ni Luke pero hindi ka na sana nag-abala Richard.”
She said while motioning him to sit beside her at the bench.
“Wala to. Just a little something for you and Luke. Ah eh Maya baka nakakaistorbo na si Nikki. Baka you guys need to do something kaya pumunta na ako dito.”
“Hindi naman Richard. Mas masaya nga na may kalaro si Luke. Atsaka ambait ni Nikki. Kanina bago maglaro sinabihan nya si Luke na gumawa muna sila ng homework. Sabi ko nga kanina sa kanya, anytime na gusto nyang makipaglaro kay Luke, pwede siya dito pero siyempre magpaalam muna dapat sayo.”
“That would be great! Nikki doesn’t have any playmate. Yun sister nya is still very young kasi. We can work out a schedule for the kids. Pwede rin si Luke sa bahay para change of environment. Kung okay lang sa’yo.”
They both timidly smiled at each other.
“Wala namang problema sa’kin.”
They spent almost an hour talking about the kids and also about Ryan.
“How did you meet Ryan?”
“He was recommended by my friend, si Rafaela. Si Ryan din gumawa ng bahay nila. He did a very good job. Atsaka hindi mahal sumingil.” Then she laughed.
“Ah oo. Magaling talaga si Ryan. I seldom see him na nga. Di na bumibisita. He usually drops by our place when he’s nearby.”
“Baka dumating na yun wife nya. Sabi nya they will be going on a vacation pag dumating yun wife nya.”
“Oh you know Ivy?”
“Oo Richard. Nakwento kasi ni Ryan sakin. Sabi nga nya ipapakilala daw nya sakin.”
Richard was relieved to know that Ryan must have realized that he shouldn’t make Maya one of his numerous flings.
“Baka nga they’re on vacation. Those two are inseparable.”
Both fell silent. Both were envious of Ryan and his wife since both of them are now alone.
“Ah eh, Maya have you heard the news? Kasi a typhoon will hit the province daw. Mabuti ng prepared kayo.”
“Oo actually when we heard the news the other day, namili na sina Lola Fe at Leah ng supplies, batteries, candles at extra flashlights.”
“That’s good. Malakas kasi usually ang bagyo kapag tumatama dito. At malapit rin tayo sa dagat so we have to take extra precautions.”
“Ah ganun ba? Naku binabaha ba etong lugar namin?” Maya asked worriedly.
“Hindi naman pero you wouldn’t want to take chances. You should have your supplies on your second floor kasi it’ll be safer there. I remembered Ryan discussing that he made sure that the walls of your house had been reinforced para safe sa typhoon.”
“Oo he told me that din. Sabi nga nya, okay lang na minimal yun design sa loob as long as sturdy yun roof and walls and posts ng bahay.”
“Tama siya dun. Pero just in case the weather gets really bad, you can stay in a hotel dyan sa bayan. People usually stay there kapag may typhoon. May mga windowless and soundproof rooms kasi sila and you won’t hear the winds sa loob. Or baka may relatives kayo where you can stay.”
“Ah wala kaming relatives. Siguro I’ll just take your advice and stay in a hotel. Pero sana wag na lang tumama yun bagyo.”
“Yeah that’s what we’re also praying for.”
After a few more minutes, Luke and Nikki have changed into dry clothes and had just eaten another round of snacks.
It was already a little dark when Richard and Nikki bid goodbye. Both had wide, very happy smiles.
Before getting in his car, Richard had to ask Maya one more thing. He wouldn’t be able to sleep if he didn’t do it…
“Ah eh Maya, can I have your phone number.. Ah ummm… If it’s okay with you…so I can reach you, I mean, when the kids, when we need to schedule the kids to meet.. Uhmm.. Pero okay lang if hindi pwede…” He was stammering, he knows he was sweating and very nervous and embarrassed of what he was certain he looks like at the moment.
“Oh you have my number already Richard. That’s my phone Leah used kanina. You can save my number.” Maya was amused at Richard’s expression but she pretended not to notice it.
“Ay ganun ba. Sige I’ll just contact you there. Okay lang if di ka sumagot kapag busy ka…”
“I’ll make sure I have time to answer your messages or calls Richard. Don’t worry.” She smiled again.
“Okay… We really have to go. Nikki say bye bye to Luke and Tita Maya.”
Nikki proceeded to hug and kiss Maya and made a high five with Luke.
On their way home, Richard didn’t waste time to ask Nikki everything he wants to know about the woman who caught his interest and who made him act like a fool awhile ago.
Nikki animatedly shared how Tita Maya played with them, took care of her and described how funny she was when she even played Chinese garter and taguan with them together with Leah.
The father and daughter drove home with contented smiles on their faces.
A/N : Yes i know, wala yun nasa preview. I still need to put one chapter before it so siya ulit ang preview for the next chapter.
Preview for the next chapter:
“Pa! Ma! Dito lang kayo sa building. You will be safe from the typhoon here. Doris pakisabihan si Joma na ipasok sa bodega lahat ng sasakyan.”
“Mommy I’m scared!”
“Anak dito lang tayo. Safe tayo dito.”
“Maya ang lakas lakas ng hangin! Bumukas na yun gate. Hayaan na lang natin kasi masisira yun kapag napwersa ng hangin.”
They were all huddled in the living room. They covered the windows with heavy cabinets. The wind was howling outside. Maya was scared but she tried to hide it. She must be brave for Luke, Manang Fe and Leah.
The winds momentarily stopped and they heard him.
“Maya! Luke! Are you guys okay?”