My Safe Refuge – 8
“Are you going to share the details now?” a grinning Ryan was having coffee at Richard Lim’s office.
“What details?” Richard knows what his friend was talking about but he pretended to be unaware of it.
“Sus brod you very well know what I’m saying – si Maya dela Rosa.” Ryan blurted out while giving his friend a teasing look. Richard was now trying to appear busy by reviewing some receipts of their deliveries which he had already read.
“Naku brod wag mo na akong lokohin. Alam ko na kilala mo na si Maya at I’m very sure that she’s the reason for that smile on your face. I also know that she took shelter here in this building during the typhoon.”
“Hey brod alam ko na kung ano hung tumatakbo sa isip mo. Stop! I just offered the place kasi her son is Nikki’s classmate. That’s all.”
“Oh. Ganun ba yun? Yun ibang classmates ba ni Nikki dito din tumuloy?” Ryan further teased.
Richard gave his pissed-off look.
“Hey… nagbibiro lang brod. Ang pikon naman nito. And what’s wrong if you are friends with Maya. Why are you denying it.”
“I’m not denying anything. Wala namang kailangan ideny.”
“So hindi kayo friends? Yun pagrescue mo sa kanila, yun pagpatuloy mo sa kanila dito, yun pagtulong mo sa paglinis ng bahay nila, yun paghatid kay Luke at pagpayag ng bonding ng mga bata sa bahay nina Maya, yun pagdalaw kina Maya, yun pagtawag at pagtext ng daily sa kanya….”
“How do you know all that?” Richard cut what Ryan was saying. Annoyed and surprised that his friend knows a lot.
“Baka nakakalimutan mo brod. Maya is my friend first before mo siya nakilala. Siyempre habang inaayos ko yun bahay nakwento ka nya. Don’t tell me you actually believed that di ko malalaman. And by the way brod, libre yun hardware materials mo as promised ha. Naku ang mahal magmahal. Malulugi ang negosyo mo…”
“Brod, that was for humanitarian reasons and it was meant for all victims of the typhoon at hindi dahil dyan sa iniisip mo.” He defensively replied.
Ryan was laughing. Aliw na aliw sya kay Ricky. “Whatever you say Mr. Lim. Whatever you say.”
“Stop it brod.”
“O sige na nga. Pagbibigyan na kita. By the way, nagiinvite yun si Maya ng lunch sa kanila sa weekend. She wants both of us and your family to be there. Two days na lang kasi, matatapos na yun repairs sa bahay nila.”
“I’m busy this weekend.”
“Oh c’mon brod! Promise I will behave. Hindi kita aasarin in front of her. Tutulungan pa kita madagdagan ang iyong pogi points.”
“It means making you look good kay Maya brod.”
“I’ve been doing well without your help brod kaya wag na. Makakagulo ka pa eh.” Ricky shook his head.
“Aha! So tama nga ako! Pinopormahan mo nga.”
“Can we just drop the topic?”
“Okay… Easy brod! Natutuwa lang ako that finally I could see that genuine smile again. I’m really happy for you. Matagal ko na ring ipinagdarasal yan for you.” Now Ryan was serious.
He witnessed how difficult life had been for Richard Lim when his wife Alex died of cancer. His friend seemed to have stopped living and only his daughters willed him to go on. Now that he could see him smiling again, Ryan couldn’t help but feel very happy for Richard.
“I know brod and thank you sa inyo ni Ivy for always being a constant reminder that life is still beautiful. Salamat.”
“O baka mag-iyakan pa tayo dito ha!”
“Sira ka talaga! But seriously din brod, si Maya, she’s like a breath of fresh air. Masaya siyang kasama. She makes me smile by merely seeing her, hearing her voice. Ewan but she makes me happy.” Richard couldn’t wipe the smile off his face.
“I agree with you on that brod. The first time I met her a little over a year ago, she always had the positive outlook in life. Kahit nakikita ko yun lungkot sa mata nya at yun mukhang pagod sya because she was practically alone taking care of her son tapos nagpapagawa ng bahay at baguhan pa sila that time. She probably just lost her husband that time.”
“Yes. She’s a very strong woman.” Richard added.
“Sobrang ganda at sexy pa.” It was Ryan and Richard automatically gave him the look which made Ryan rephrase what he just said “I mean she looks fit and healthy… easy lang brod. Nakakatakot ka naman.”
“There’s more to her than just her physical attributes Ryan. She’s more than that.”
“Alam ko brod. Di ba nga yan ang sinabi ko awhile ago. Ikaw talaga ang high blood mo. O siya I have to go ahead. Nakarga na ata yun needed materials sa truck.”
“Sige brod. And please don’t let Maya know that we’re talking about her.”
“Oo naman brod. Ikaw talaga. Siyempre alam ko na yun.”
“Wala kasi akong tiwala sa’yo brod. Ikaw pa!”
“Naku Mr. Lim, trust me on this one. Marunong din naman akong magseryoso.”
“Yeah right! Sige na nga. Alis ka na at may pupuntahan na rin ako.”
“Okay brod. Thanks sa almusal at sa masayang kwento.”
“Sige na. Umalis ka na nga brod.”
Richard just shook his head while hiding a smile. His bestfriend could really be pushy and annoying at times but he’s indeed blessed to have him.
Maya and Luke’s house was repaired by Architect Ryan’s team for free.
Like what Richard suggested, he just told her that it was covered by insurance for he knows that Maya would decline any help.
It was Richard who provided all the materials for the the repairs made.
Ryan was also happy to help Maya and Luke whom he also became so fond of.
He even brought his wife Ivy during the lunch invitation of Maya. He wanted his wife to meet Maya and Luke and they indeed got along so well.
During the said lunch which Maya prepared herself, she invited Richard’s family and also Ryan. It was her way of thanking them for all the help they offered her and Luke during one of the hardest times she encountered.
Roberto and Esmeralda Lim enjoyed Maya’s kare-kare which she really cooks so well. Ivy was also bugging Maya for her Arroz de Valenciana and Kaldereta recipe.
The kids enjoyed the chicken and spaghetti which Leah and Lola Fe prepared. They were not so fond of the other meals Maya cooked and Maya already anticipated it that’s why the always-requested spaghetti and chicken was part of the meal.
Maya also baked some cookies and pastries which everyone enjoyed.
For their part, Richard brought ice cream and also the favorite cake of Luke. His mom Esmeralda also proudly asked everyone to try her Atsara which has their family secret recipe. They also brought steaks to be grilled.
Ryan and Ivy brought wine as well.
Everyone enjoyed the sumptuous lunch at Maya’s backyard. The kids enjoyed playing in the new treehouse Ryan constructed. Even Sabel, Doris and Joma were around to help in preparing and cleaning up.
“My dear thank you very much. I’ve never seen Ricky and the kids enjoy this much.” Esmeralda Lim was seated beside Maya. Ivy was with them. Ricky and Ryan were playing with the kids. The two men were helping Luke set up his toy drone which Ryan gave Luke as pasalubong. He gave Nikki a set of her favorite book too.
“Ako po ang dapat magpasalamat Tita. Hindi ko inakala na magiging masaya kami ng anak ko dito kahit wala naman kaming mga kakilala.”
“Oh dear you will always be loved by anyone you and your son encounters kasi ambait nyo. Di ba Ivy?”
“Ah yes Tita. Atsaka Maya raising your son alone, my God di ko ata kakayanin yun.” It was Ivy now.
“Mabait naman si Luke. Kung minsan nga parang matanda na kung mag-isip at bodyguard ko siya.” She proudly spoke of her son.
“Eh Maya what do you think of my son?”
“Ah eh si Ricky po? Mabait po siya. He’s a very good father.”
“Yes. Sobrang responsible father yan si Ricky and also a very loving one. Hindi lang siya mapagmahal sa mga anak nya kundi pati sa amin ng papa nya at sa mga kaibigan nya. Kaya nga sobrang natutuwa ako at nakikita ko na syang ngumiti ulit ngayon.”
“Inspired yan si Ricky tita.” It was Ivy again.
Maya already knew were the conversation was leading to and she can’t help but be a bit embarrassed for she could feel herself blushing.
“So dear if ever Ricky makes paramdam, bigyan mo naman ng chance ha? Don’t break my poor son’s heart.” Esmeralda Lim and Ivy was laughing while Maya just gamely joined their banters.
“Si tita talaga. Naku baka magalit si Ricky at pinagtsitsimisan natin.” was all Maya could say. She shyly smiled.
“Hindi yan hija. Atsaka ngayon lang ako may makakausap about Ricky. Naku just ask me anything about my son kahit yun like nya or how he sleeps at night, his favorite wear and I’ll gladly answer it.”
“Tita!” Maya just shyly covered her face.
The ladies were laughing when Richard joined them.
“Aba mukhang ang saya saya nyo. What are you talking about?”
“Ikaw Ricky. Ikinukwento kita dito kay Maya.” His mom teasingly told her son.
“Lagot ka Ricky. Binuko ka na ni tita kay Maya.” nanggatong pa si Ivy.
“Ma!” and he looked towards Maya. “Maya never take whatever my mom says against me ha! Naku dapat di ko na si mama sinama dito. She loves telling all these little anecdotes about me.”
Maya and Ivy couldn’t stop laughing.
“Oh thank you for reminding me son. Hindi ko pa yun nakukwento dito kay Maya.”
“Ma! Ikaw talaga. I better ask Joma to bring you home.”
The whole family stayed until the late afternoon. They even had karaoke sessions where Roberto Lim displayed his singing talent. Everyone was cheering. Maya and Ricky were forced to sing a duet. They were both conscious of each other’s presence already but tried to hide whatever it is they both felt for the other.
“Suddenly the wheels are in motion (…) and I’m willing to take all my chances with you.”
Everyone was cheering as the voices of the two blended so well.
“Naku ramdam na ramdam namin brod! Pwede na kayong sumali sa duets dyan sa pista sa plaza.”
“Ang ganda pala ng boses mo Maya. Hindi ka lang dancer, singer pa.” Richard commented remembering that Maya dances so well too.
“Hindi naman ikaw talaga. Ikaw nga dyan yun maganda ang boses.”
“Nagturuan pa kayo. Ako na ang maganda ang boses.” Si Ryan.
The day ended and Ivy and Ryan left ahead of everyone else. They still have to travel for hours to Manila.
After helping Leah and Lola Fe clean up everything used in the salo-salo, Sabel, together with Roberto and Esmeralda Lim were driven by Joma home.
Richard stayed behind as Nikki was still fixing her toys.
“Maya thank you. We enjoyed. Pasensya na rin sa kakulitan nina mama at papa atsaka ni Ryan. Kung ano ano ang pinagsasabi nun.”
“Ano ka ba, okay lang yun. Sanay na ako sa pagbibiro ni Ryan. Yun parents mo ambabait nila Ricky. Ang swerte nyo to have them.”
“Mabait na makulit. Thanks talaga Maya. Matagal na rin since we had this. Next time dun naman sa amin.”
“Oo ba! Basta ikaw naman magluluto.”
“Sure. O nandito na pala si Nikki. We’re going now Maya. Salamat talaga. Please just tell Lola Fe. Mukhang pagod na yun. Sige Ricky. Salamat rin sa inyo ni Ryan. Kampante na kami ni Luke ngayon.”
“Don’t mention it Maya. I’m just here, kami ng family ko, sina Ryan. Pamilya na rin namin kayo.”
“Thank you Ricky.” Then without thinking she hugged Richard very tight.
Both of them were surprised with her move. She blushed knowing that Doris and Nikki were watching them.
After they disengaged. Both were beet red.
“Sige mauna na kami.”
That night both Richard and Maya replayed the days events in their mind.
Richard is now decided to pursue Maya.
Maya on the other hand, admitted to herself that she also had feelings for Richard Lim.
She just doesn’t know if she’ll entertain such feeling.
She still had many problems in her mind. Her husband James Ventura is a big factor to think about. She’s not sure if she must open her heart to Richard or not.