My Safe Refuge – 20 (Epilogue)

My Safe Refuge – 20 (Epilogue)

“Jump Sky! Jump!”

“Yes! Very good!”

The kids, 12 years old Luke and Nikki and 5 years old Sunshine were all laughing as their youngest brother Sky, who was a little over a year old, finds it difficult to lift his body when he jumps. He looked so adorable and funny.

The family were spending their regular weekend bonding at their backyard.

After Maya and Richard got married, she decided to sell their old house. She wanted to share in building their new house but Richard refused. He just convinced Maya to save the money for the kids’ needs.

They had a new house built just beside Richard’s parents’ house. Manang Fe and Leah were still with them.

The kids were all seated on the grass rolling in laughter while Maya was securely engulfed in Richard’s arms in one of their benches.

“Ang saya ng mga bata sweetheart.”

“Oo nga! Etong mga panganay pa naman alaskador masyado. They really enjoy teasing Sky.”

“At tuwang tuwa naman si Sky. Si Sunshine din sumasali na sa Ate at Kuya nya. Ang laki na nila.”

“And they’re all growing up very healthy, happy and well taken-cared of. It’s because of you sweetheart. Thank you.”

“Ricky hindi lang naman ako. Magkatuwang tayo.” Then she hugged her husband tighter.

They were just enjoying watching the kids when Manang Fe approached them with a package.

“Ricardo, Maya may nagpadala nito.” She handed it to Richard after she have read the origin of the package.

It was a package from the Bureau of Corrections where James Ventura had been serving his life sentence.

Maya tightened her hold on Richard when she learned that the package was from James.

They both glanced at Luke who was still busy playing with his siblings.

Richard opened the package and found a letter addressed to Maya and some documents in some brown envelope together with it.

They read the letter together.

“Dear Mrs. Maya dela Rosa-Lim,

Good day!

I am Father Jeffrey Alarcon of the Bureau of Corrections. I have been constantly talking to James Ventura. He already told me everything about you and your son. He already told me what he did to you and your son and he is very remorseful with everything he had caused you. I didn’t want to bother you and your family anymore as I am already aware of how difficult it is to be reminded of something very painful. But I decided that this is the proper thing to do. I am sure that it would also help you and your son attain peace and also freedom from all the pain and bitter memories of the past. James doesn’t have any other family that we know of. He was only constantly mentioning you and Luke.

I have been with James Ventura during his stay at the penitentiary before he was transferred to the hospital where he is now spending his last few months, weeks or even days battling stage 4 colon and lung cancer.

I am not saying this to lessen the gravity of what he’s done or to obtain your forgiveness, Mrs. Lim, but James had been paying for what he did to you and your son. He never failed to mention how he despised himself for hurting you and your son. He told me that he hated waking up every morning as he was being reminded of what he did.

The only wish he mentioned is to be able to say sorry to you and Luke before he finally leaves.

I am not asking you to visit him if you and your son are not ready to do it. I just want to give you his message and also request for prayers for him.

Enclosed are documents of some properties James wants to give you and your son. He knows you wouldn’t need it but he just wants to leave it with you anyway.

Whatever you decide on, you can just reach me at the numbers I’ve written.

Thank you and God bless you and your family.

Fr. Jeff Alarcon
BuCor”

Ricky tightened his embrace on Maya. He knows that she’s still affected with any news about James. He’s still Luke’s dad after all. Learning that James is very ill is still a very sad news despite whatever he caused them in the past.

“Sweetheart do you want to visit him? We could do that. Pwede rin nating isama si Luke.” Richard suggested. He knows that it’s the right thing to do.

Maya agreed and together with Luke they visited James.

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The moment Maya, Luke and Richard entered the hospital room, James tried to mumble something upon seeing them. He could no longer speak.

The nurse who was just replaced his dextrose moved to give way to the visitors.

“Kayo po si Mr and Mrs Lim? At eto po si Luke?”

“Yes. We called up Father Jeff to inform him of our visit.” Richard answered for them.

“Ibinilin po kayo ni Father. Mamaya po darating na rin sya dito. Iwanan ko na po muna kayo. Pwede naman pong iwanan si Sir James. Kapag may problema po, pindutin nyo na lang yun sa pader. Sa nurse’s station lang po ako.”

“Okay, we will do that. Thank you.” Richard was the one talking to the nurse as Maya was just staring at James. She couldn’t believe what she’s seeing.

James looked so frail, he was very thin and even his skin was pale. His former dark eyes that had been piercing and that had always scared Maya and Luke now stared listlessly, dull and lifeless.

Those strong fists and arms that used to hit Maya now had tubes attached to them.

James was also staring at her and Luke with remorseful eyes, wanting to say sorry. He was again trying to mumble something but Maya now gently touched his lips, telling him that it’s okay not to speak.

Luke was standing beside Ricky. He was teary eyed as he felt pity for his dad. He may have been cruel to him and his mom but he was still his dad.

“James, okay na. Kalimutan na natin yun mga nangyari. Pinatawad ka na namin ni Luke. Ang isipin mo ay yung magpalakas ka.” Maya gathered enough courage not to be emotional. She didn’t want to cry in front of James and Luke.

She continued… “atsaka kahit ano man ang nangyari sa atin, nagpapasalamat pa rin ako sa’yo kasi binigyan mo ako ng isa pa pinakaespesyal na regalo… si Luke. Balewala ang lahat ng sakit at lungkot kasi binigay mo sakin si Luke.”

The moment Maya said those words, James Ventura’s tears flowed from the corner of his eyes. Luke immediately fished for his handkerchief and went near his dad. He wiped his tears.

Richard decided to leave them inside the room. They needed privacy and he knows that James doesn’t want to look so helpless in front of him.

After a few minutes, Father Jeffrey arrived and chatted with them for a few more minutes.

They bade goodbye to James. Luke even tried to carefully hug his dad’s frail body. Maya also squeezed his hand to assure him that everything is okay now. She wanted to let James know that they had really forgiven him. Richard also promised to take care of Maya and Luke.

They left the hospital with a bittersweet feeling. They felt sad for James’ deteriorating condition but they also felt at peace having conveyed the messages of forgiveness.

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James passed away a week after Maya and Luke visited him.

They decided to take care or James’ wake and burial.

“Mom, I know that dad James’ money could be a great help for my studies but mom I don’t want any help from him. I know that you and dad could send me to school without his help. Kapag hindi nyo po kaya, pipilitin kong maging scholar.”

Maya and Ricky smiled at what Luke said.

Luke continued…

“If okay lang mom, let’s just donate the money he left to those institutions who are helping women and children who are being treated unkindly by their husbands and fathers. Para naman yun sa every wound dad James did to us. Okay lang po ba yun mom?”

Maya immediately turned teary to what Luke suggested. She herself didn’t want anything from James but what Luke said would surely help James’ soul.

Ricky hugged her and it gave her the support she needed as she could no longer control her tears.

No, she’s not crying for James but for her son who remained sensible, loving and happy despite what he experienced as a kid.

Seeing their mom and dad hugging each other, their other kids Nikki, Sunshine and even Sky all rushed to join the group hug.

“Naku Sweetheart dry your tears na. Ayan na yun makukulit.” Richard laughed and welcomed the kids to a big family hug.

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“Luke ayaw mo bang sumama kina  lola sa mall?” Maya asked Luke who was still busy reading a new book he borrowed from their school library.

Esmeralda Lim visited them and she will be bringing her apos Nikki Sunshine and Sky out to spend the day with her. Even Manang Fe, Leah, Doris and Sabel will be joining her. They will be going to the park, do some shopping, eat out and maybe even take a look at the newly opened carnival in San Nicolas.

“Mom lahat po sila girls.” Luke complained.

“Anak kasama naman si Sky at Kuya Joma.”

Richard was just seated at their living room sofa amused at how busy and excited everyone was to be spending the whole day with his mother Esmeralda at the mall, park, carnival and restaurant. His mother was fun and adventurous despite her age. Her apos and their staff and househelp always looks forward to these ‘pasyals’ with the Lim matriarch.

He was also observing his wife who was doing her best to convince Luke to join Mama Esmeralda.

“Mom bakit po you want me to go with them? You want po to spend time alone with Dad?” Luke asked innocently and Maya defensively denied “Hindi anak! I just want you to enjoy.”

Maya was blushing while explaining to Luke. She was guilty coz she indeed wanted to spend time alone with her husband. She was excited the moment Mama Esmeralda suggested the day-out with everybody except her and Richard.

Richard chuckled and Maya threw him a sharp stare which silenced him but of course Mama Esmeralda already saw it and joined in teasing the couple. “Don’t worry Ricky and Maya I’ll make sure that the kids will enjoy their time with me so you can do whatever it is you both plan to do. Basta ha, dapat masundan na si Sky. Mas masaya kung maraming bata sa bahay.”

“Ma!” Maya and Ricky said at the same time.

“I’m just teasing you. Sige na alis na kami.”

Life had been good to Richard, Maya and their kids. Whatever painful past they experienced have now been replaced with good memories.

Maya and Richard know that they could easily overcome whatever challenges and problems they would be facing for they have already weathered the strongest storms in their lives.

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A/N : Thanks for your patience in waiting for the updates.

Soon may serye na sila. Let’s support the new roles they will be doing just like  how we embraced Maya and SerChief. 😊

My Safe Refuge – 19 (Finale)

My Safe Refuge – 19 (Finale)

“Maya, hija thank you very much for being here. Naku akala namin ni Roberto hindi kayo makakarating ni Luke.” Esmeralda Lim said as she welcomed Maya with an embrace.

“Happy Anniversary po sainyo ni Tito Roberto. Siyempre po pupunta kami sa importanteng selebrasyon nyo.” Maya shyly greeted Richard’s mother with a smile.

Then Esmeralda turned to Richard, “Ikaw talaga Ricky. Sabi mo hindi makakapunta sina Maya. Nalungkot pa naman ako.”

“Ma, surprise nga di ba?” Then he laughed at his mother’s expression while now putting his arms on Maya’s shoulder to lead her inside his parents’ house.

Luke already went ahead as Nikki excitedly brought him to the backyard where the children of their neighbors and employees were playing.

It was Roberto Lim and Esmeralda Lim’s 50th wedding anniversary. They celebrated it with close friends, neighbors and their employees. The Lims don’t have relatives in the Philippines and Roberto and Esmeralda were very happy that Maya and Luke celebrated with them. They already treated Maya and Luke as part of their family.

The mother and son returned to their normal lives in San Nicolas. Despite what happened to them, Maya and Luke were able to recover, not only from the physical pain inflicted by James but they were also able to accept the emotional scars he gave them and treat them as part of God’s way of making them stronger.

They were able to move on from that dark chapter of their lives with the help of Richard, his family and their friends as well.

Luke was allowed to continue his studies even after being absent for months. With the help of Roberto and Esmeralda Lim who were benefactors at Luke’s school and Richard who was also a PTA officer, they were able to convince the school to accept Luke again. Luke didn’t have difficulty in catching up with missed lessons as his teachers and Nikki helped him.

Six months after being rescued from James Ventura, Maya and Luke now looked very happy and determined to move on and move forward. Richard was beyond blessed to have been given the chance to be with them again.

“Ricky kung hindi agad kinuha sina Tatay at Nanay siguro ganyan din sila sa Mama at Papa mo. Di ko na masyado maalala pero si Tatay sobrang sweet din kay Nanay noon. Siguro magcecelebrate din sila ng anniversary nila at sasayaw din ng ganyan.” Maya commented while watching Esmeralda and Roberto dancing to a Tony Bennet medley. They were just seated as they already danced to a couple of songs earlier.

“Maya I’m sure they’re also celebrating every occasion up there.” He smiled at her and held her hand.

She smiled back but there was obvious sadness in her voice, “Sana hindi naman sila kinuha ng maaga sa ganun na paraan. Sana nabigyan ko din sila ng mga handaan na ganito. Sana nakilala ka nila Ricky.”

“I bet they already know me Maya and they’re watching over us. Atsaka sigurado ako mas engrande ang celebration nila doon. I’m sure your Nanay and Tatay also have the chance to dance. Mas maganda ang music nila doon at for sure mas masarap ang pagkain.” Richard was trying to make her laugh and lessen the sadness Maya is feeling.

Aware of his attempt to make her smile, Maya tried to hide her sadness.
“At ano naman ang kinakain nila dun?”

“Yun manok ni San Pedro ginawa nilang lechong manok.” Then Ricky stared at her expecting for her to laugh at his joke.

“Naku Ricky ang corny mo!” But she was already laughing.

“Corny pero bumenta naman sa’yo.”

“Siyempre. I don’t want to hurt your feelings eh.” Then she leaned on his shoulder. She was also very blessed to have Ricky by her side.

“Seriously Maya, I am very sure that your parents are watching over you and Luke. And I’m really sure that they already know me.”

“Naniniwala naman ako dun Ricky. At alam ko na kilala nila kung sino yun taong nagligtas sa amin ni Luke. Alam nila na ikaw yun Ricky. At alam nila na mahal na mahal mo kami ni Luke.” Then she shyly added, “Alam din nila na mahal na mahal kita.”

He lovingly stared at her, touched by what she said. He kissed her forehead as they continue to watch his parents.

===============

A few days after his parents’ wedding anniversary, Richard surprised Maya with a beautiful flower arrangement and her favorite cake and coffee. He also brought some goodies for Luke, Manang Fe and even Leah.

“Ricky ano na naman to? Di ba sabi ko wag mo na akong bibilhan ng mga ganyang flowers. Ang mahal nyan eh.” She appreciated it but she also wanted to let him know that he didn’t have to continue giving her flowers as his presence alone is enough for her.

“Shhh. Ang reklamo mo. Of course I have to give you one kasi baka magselos ka sa bibigyan ko. I actually had two of those. At sige para makalma na ang kuripot side mo, this one is not as expensive as the other one doon sa car.” Then he chuckled as he saw her raising her left eyebrow at him.

“Alam mo hindi nakakatuwa ang mga ganyang biro mo.” She acted pikon. Actually she really is and Richard loves teasing her all the more.

“Halika nga, paakap. You’re really cute when you’re like that.” He hugged her tightly and gave her a reverent kiss on her forehead. “Sige na bihis ka na muna at may pupuntahan tayo. Magdedeliver tayo ng flowers. Let’s just drink the coffee sa car.”

“Saan tayo pupunta?”

“Stop asking na. Bihis na sweetheart. We have to go there while it’s early.” Then he kissed her again and she blushed. She still feels giddy whenever he’s overly sweet. She just lightly slapped his arm, “wag ka nga. Makita tayo ni Manang, nakakahiya. Sige na magbibihis na ako.”

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Ricky maneuvered the car to the place where he planned a surprise for her.

Maya suddenly became quiet.

She was transported back to time and the many memories she’s been wanting to forget and bury all these years. She never visited the place. She just sends Manang Fe and Leah to clean the place and to regularly bring flowers and candles.

Ricky brought Maya to the old San Nicolas cemetery, to the grave of her parents. Because of the nature of how they died and because she badly wanted to erase that traumatic memory of witnessing how her parents were killed right before her eyes, Maya refused to visit the place. She would always find a reason not to visit the place. Richard didn’t know this because Maya never mentioned it to him.

When he parked the car, he glanced at her and was expecting to see her happy but instead he saw apprehension and sadness in her eyes.
“Sweetheart?”

“Ricky matagal na akong hindi nakakabisita kina nanay at tatay. Actually sinadya ko kasi kapag pumupunta ako dito naaalala ko yun nangyari sa kanila.” Now she was getting teary eyed and Richard got worried.

“Maya I’m sorry. I didn’t know. I just wanted to pay my respects kay nanay at tatay.” He held her hand then faced her.

“Alam ko naman yun. Sorry ha. Di lang kasi ako handa. Atsaka naguguilty ako kina Tatay at Nanay kasi never ko silang dinadalaw dito. Kahit si Luke hindi alam ang lugar na to. Sobrang sakit lang kasi. Nahihiya akong humarap kina Tatay at Nanay. Feeling ko ang sama sama ko…”

“Maya they would understand. Alam nila that you have reasons for not going here. Alam rin nila na wala kang nakakasama noon going here but now, I will always accompany you to this place. I will also help you forget the bad memories you associate with this place. Papalitan natin yun ng good memories okay?” He lovingly stared into her eyes while holding both her hands reverently wanting to let her know that everything will be okay.

He then tried to dry Maya’s eyes. “Hey stop crying. Baka akalain nina Nanay at Tatay pinaiyak kita. Baka kurutin ako mamaya while I’m sleeping.”

She smiled at his attempt to make everything bearable. He always does it and Maya appreciates that Richard always acknowledges what she feels and understands her reasons for that emotions she’s been harboring all these years. He also has his way of making everything seem okay.

She wanted to be okay. She wanted to face everything now and not hide in fear, in pain. She knows that with Richard by her side she would be able to do it.

“Sweetheart if you really don’t want to, ako na lang ang pupunta to bring the flowers. You can just wait here.”

“Hindi Ricky. Sasama ako. Pipilitin kong maging okay.”

“You’re sure? Maya ayaw ko namang…”

“Okay lang Ricky. Napagisip isip ko na kailangan ko naman talagang harapin yun malungkot na pangyayari sa buhay ko. Alam ko na hindi na ko kailangan iwasan kahit sobrang sakit. At alam ko na kailangan kong ipakilala at ipagmalaki ang napakabait, napakamaalaga at napakagwapong boyfriend ko kina nanay at tatay.”

He smiled at what she said. He was relieved that Maya seemed okay now, though he knows that it took her a lot of courage to decide to visit her parents.

“Wag mo naman akong masyadong ibida Sweetheart baka madisappoint sila sa looks ko. Baka they would expect me to look like Robert Downey or Ryan Gosling or even Park Bo-Gum and JinYoung.”

Maya laughed this time. “Sweetheart hindi naman nila kapanahunan yun mg yun, ikaw talaga. Atsaka mas gwapo ka pa sa mga yun.”

“Sabagay you are right, I even look better than them, kaya nga you fell for me.”

“Uy hindi ah! Hindi lang kagwapuhan mo minahal ko, yung buong pagkatao mo.”

“Oo na. Oo na. Pero we better go inside na kasi baka magalit na talaga sina Tatay at Nanay. Baka akalain we’re doing something…” Then he winked at her. She smiled now forgetting about what being in this place makes her feel.

He reached for the bouquet of roses for Nanay Teresita and Tatay Arturo at the backseat of the car.

“Do you think they’ll like these Sweetheart?” He was asking her opinion but instead of answering him, Maya was unable to contain the appreciation and love she felt for him so she planted a kiss on his lips then hugged him very tight. “Thank you Ricky. Thank you dito. Thank you sa lahat. I love you so much.” Then she was teary eyed again.

“Hey hey… you just said you love me tapos naiiyak ka na naman. Tama nang iyak sweetheart. Swollen na ang eyes mo. Haharap pa naman tayo sa parents mo.”

“Ikaw kasi eh.”

“Ako pa ngayon? Tara na? Let’s go.”

Then they walked hand in hand towards the resting place of Arturo and Teresita dela Rosa.

=================

Maya led Richard towards her parents grave. He laid the flowers on top of the stone bearing the name of Nanay Teresita and Tatay Arturo. He also had candles and lighted them while Maya was watching him.

“Nay Tay, kumusta na po kayo? Sorry ngayon lang ako dumalaw.” Maya was starting to be emotional again.”Pero promise ko po magmula ngayon, lagi na akong pupunta dito. Isasama ko rin po yun apo nyo. Si Luke po ang laki na nya. Hindi man nya kayo nakita, kilalang kilala po kayo ng apo nyo at mahal na mahal nya kayo. Okay na po kami ni Luke. Masayang masaya na po kami. Sana nakikita nyo kami ni Luke.”

Ricky was just listening to her. He was relieved that Maya seemed okay now. She was really talking to her parents like they were really here.

She held his hand. “Nay, Tay ipapakilala ko po si Richard, boyfriend ko. Siya po yun naging sandigan namin ni Luke. Siya po yun nagligtas sa amin ni Luke doon sa bagyo at kay James. Inaalagaan nya po kami ni Luke. Kahit magulang nya po itinuring na rin kaming parte ng pamilya nila. Siya po yun nagpapasaya sa akin.”

Richard was so touched with what Maya said. He squeezed her hand gently. “Maya may I?” He asked her permission. He also wanted to say something to her parents.

Maya nod her head.

“Nanay Teresita, Tatay Arturo…ako po si Richard or Ricky na lang po. I am very blessed to have known your daughter and your apo. They both made my life brighter. If Maya said na pinapasaya ko sila, well, she is like that to me and my family as well. You have raised a very loving daughter po and she genuinely shares that with anyone she meets. Napakaswerte ko po to be able to experience being with her. I also promise na aalagaan ko sila ni Luke. I won’t give her any reason para maramdaman nya ulit yun mga masasakit na nangyari sa kanila noon.” Then he glanced at Maya who was silently crying. He smiled at her and wiped her tear-streaked cheeks. “Nay Tay, actually gusto ko talagang pumunta dito para magpaalam para ligawan ko yun anak nyo,” he paused and again stared at her whose eyes were also staring into his, “kaso Nay, Tay, ipinakilala na ako ni Maya bilang boyfriend nya kaya po…”

He fished for a small box in his pocket.

He opened it and smiled at Maya again, who was now staring at him in disbelief.

He continued, “Nay, Tay… Gusto ko pong hingin ang kamay ng anak nyo. Please allow me to propose to Maya.” Ricky was also getting emotional. He wasn’t supposed to do it here but he decided that this is the perfect moment to propose to her. Her parents need the assurance that their daughter will now be safe and taken cared of.

“Ricky…” Maya leaned hugged him.

Ricky then kneeled on one knee as he removes the diamond ring from its box.
“Maya dela Rosa, with your parents as witness to my pure and noble intentions, will you marry me? Will you allow me to be your husband and your son’s father? Will you be my Mrs. Lim?”

Maya was now crying and she was no longer trying to stop it. She was overwhelmed with everything. She never expected the surprise Ricky did.

“Ricky yes! Yes I will marry you.”

Then he stood up and carefully slid the ring to her finger. Then he gently kissed the back of her hand then her cheeks. “I love you so much Maya. Thank you for saying yes.”

“I love you too Ricky. I love you so much. Salamat. Extra special to kasi nasa harap tayo ng puntod nina Nanay at Tatay.

Both were now facing her parents grave with her leaning on his chest. They were quiet but they were aware that both their hearts were beating with happiness.

“Maya you think payag din sina Nanay at Tatay?” Richard asked her but before Maya could reply, a cool yet gentle breeze was felt in a rather sunny and hot morning.

They didn’t voice their observation but they just smiled at each other. They knew that they now have the blessings from Maya’s parents.

Richard admired the strength of Maya to have endured every storm in her life. He vowed to never leave her in whatever storms she had to encounter in the future.

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My Safe Refuge – 18

My Safe Refuge – 18

A/N Since nakapagpost na ng lighter story kanina, I’m sure kaya nyo na tong slight mala-mmk na continuation. Matatapos na to. Final chapter na ang sunod dito.

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It was morning when Luke arrived at the hospital with Manang Fe. It was Richard and Rafi who stays with Maya in the hospital. Rafi went home to change and Richard was alone when they arrived.

They brought Richard’s clothes which were prepared by his mom Esmeralda. There was also food for him.

“Tito Richard hot chocolate po. Ginawa po yan ni Lola Fe. Yun breakfast po inaayos pa sa table.” Luke handed Richard a mug as he sat beside him inside Maya’s hospital room.

“Thank you Luke. I’ll have breakfast later. Kayo kumain na ba?” Richard got the mug of hot choco then placed his arm on the boy’s shoulder to draw him closer to him.

Luke just nodded and smiled at him.

After what happened, the bond between the two of them got stronger. Luke already treats him like his own father and the boy was even protective of Richard’s daughters Nikki and Sunshine. He acts like a kuya already even if he’s just a few months older than Nikki.

Luke and Manang Fe were staying at Richard’s Manila house together with Richard’s mother, Esmeralda. The kids, Nikki and Sunshine had to go back to San Nicolas with their grandfather Roberto after they visited their Tita Maya. Nikki still had classes. Roberto also volunteered to talk to Luke’s teachers so they still could reconsider him despite being absent for a long time.

Everyone in Richard Lim’s family were helpful to Maya and Luke. They loved the mother and son and they vowed to take care of them not out of pity alone but because they already owned their hearts as well.

“Tito Richard thank you po ha.”

“Luke…”

“Kung hindi po sa inyo nandun pa rin kami kay dad. Baka kung ano na ang nangyari kay Mommy. Sinubukan ko naman po to save mom pero ang strong ni dad. Then he locks the door para di ko matanggol si mom…” There was anger ang pain in Luke’s eyes as he recalls how they suffered from his dad.

Richard stared into the boy’s eyes wanting to assure him that everything is okay now, “Luke you have saved your mom. If not for you, we wouldn’t have found you. You should be very proud of yourself. I am very proud of you and I’m sure your mommy is very proud too.”

“I wished I had a different father. Daddy James is like a monster. His eyes would get red and he would always curse and say nasty things. He wouldn’t stop hitting mom even if I beg him.” The boy is shaking in anger now. Richard could see how Luke unknowingly clenched his fists.

He drew the boy closer to him.

“Luke, your dad did those things because of the drugs he had been taking. He was not aware of it anymore. He wasn’t in his right mind.”

“I hate him Tito Richard. I wished he wasn’t part of our lives.”

“Don’t say that Luke. He is your father and I’m sure if it wasn’t for his wrong decision of taking drugs, he loved you and your mom. You wouldn’t be here if not for that love your mom and dad had for each other. You have to understand him and pray for him. Nasa prison na siya Luke and he will pay for what he did to you and to your mom there.” The boy just stared at him but the hurt and anger is still evident in his eyes. Then he nodded and gave his Tito Richard a pained smile.

Richard hugged Luke. He knows that the young boy’s mind still couldn’t fully understand why his own father did what he did to them. He knows that Luke, just like his mom needs to learn to trust people again despite everything that happened to them. He would gladly be that person to help them erase the pain in their hearts.

“Luke, listen to me.” He again stared at the boy and calmly explained, “Bad things happen to anybody without us understanding why. Sometimes sobrang painful na and you can’t help but feel sad and angry. It’s normal to feel that way. Before, when Nikki and Sunshine’s mom died, I also felt so sad. I was angry at everybody. I blamed myself. I could have saved their if I only found out about her cancer on it’s earlier stage. I hated myself that time but then I realized that people who love me doesn’t deserve seeing an angry, sad and bad Richard. I still have many things to be grateful for – my parents, my kids, my friends and right now kayo ng mommy mo. I realized that what happened to me before led me to meeting you and your mom. That alone Luke already removed all the pain in my heart. That’s why it’s okay for you to feel bad for now pero don’t allow yourself to feel that for a long time. Atsaka ang goal natin is to make your mommy happy di ba? Partners tayo in doing it? Help Tito Richard in making mommy happy okay?”

“Opo Tito Richard.” Then the boy’s tears are flowing this time. He couldn’t help it. He was so thankful that they were saved from his dad. “Thank you po ulit.” Then he sobbed now into the arms of their saviour.

“Sssshhh… It’s okay now Luke. Safe na kayo and I’ll make sure that no one would hurt you and your mommy again.”

Manang Fe was just listening. She was so thankful that her prayers for Maya and Luke have been answered. An angel was again sent to save them just like what Rafi and Charlie did years ago.

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Maya stayed in the hospital for more than two weeks. The doctor said that she could already go home after her fifth day but Richard and also Rafi decided that Maya had to fully recover before going home. At least the doctors and nurses would be able to take good care of her and Maya wouldn’t insist on working or even doing chores.

They could actually take good care of her at home but both Richard and Rafi knows how stubborn she is. Maya doesn’t want to depend on others. She dislikes being served. This made them decide to just let Maya rest and recover in the hospital.

Richard never left her side while Maya spent most of her days sleeping. The doctors had to sedate her so she won’t feel the pain in her body. Aside from the visible wounds, she also suffered broken ribs and even her abdomen had suffered from the pain inflicted by James.

On her seventh night, she woke up at the middle of the night.

“Richard?”

“Hey how are you feeling?”

“Medyo okay naman pakiramdam ko. Bakit gising ka pa?”

“I’m answering emails lang. Do you want something?”

“Wala naman. Matulog ka na Ricky. Di mo naman ako kailangan bantayan. Mapupuyat ka nyan eh. Baka pati ikaw magkasakit nyan.”

“No Maya. I’m okay. Di pa naman ako inaantok. Masakit pa ba yun mga sugat mo?”

“Medyo Ricky pero magiging okay na din to. Hindi ko na nga masyado maramdaman yun sakit kasi nandyan kayong lahat. Nandyan si Luke at lalong lalo na ikaw.” She lovingly stared at him wanting to communicate the love and gratitude she has for him.

She wanted to embrace him tightly but she can’t with all the tubes attached to her.

“Pagaling ka ha. I missed you.”

“I missed you too. Luke said you didn’t leave the entire time lalo na nang palagi akong tulog. Lagi kang nandito. Ricky baka napapabayaan mo na sina Nikki at Sunshine, yun mama at papa mo, yun negosyo nyo.”

“No Maya. Don’t worry about it. Kayang kaya na nila dun.”

Then his eyes became evasive and she easily noticed it.

“May problema ka ba? Ricky…”

“Wala. I was just…I’m ashamed of myself. Nahihiya ako sa inyo, sa’yo. I didn’t know how to face you. I promised to take care of you and Luke but I failed.” He looked down, not wanting to meet her eyes.

“Richard wala ka namang kasalanan. Ako yun naglihim sa’yo.”

“But I still failed to protect you and Luke. I could never forgive myself. What if we weren’t able to locate you. What if di nagkaroon ng chance si Luke to call. What if…”

Then she held his hand. “Richard kung hindi dahil sa’yo baka kung ano na ang nangyari sa amin ni Luke ngayon. We owe you our lives. Palagi mo kaming nililigtas. Dati iniligtas mo kami sa bagyo. Ngayon naman kay James.

He slowly lifted his head to be able to look at her. “But i allowed him to get you and Luke. Hindi ko man lang siya napigilan…”

She caressed his cheek. “Kasi wala kang alam. Kasi inilihim ko sa’yo. Wala kang kasalanan.”

He touched her face, her forehead, her hair. “I am so sorry…”

“Stop saying sorry. Alam mo ba na punong puno ng pagpapasalamat ang puso ko para  sa’yo? Hindi na nga magkasya eh.”

“I love you Maya.” He lovingly told her while caressing her hair.”

“Ako din Ricky mahal na mahal kita. Salamat sa lahat.”

Then Richard slowly planted a soft kiss on her bruised forehead careful not to exert pressure on it.

They both knew that everything will be okay from now on. Maya knows that the worst nightmare she and her son experienced is over now. Richard vowed to make Maya and Luke experience the love, the care and protection that they had been deprived of while they were with James. He would erase that bad memories from Maya’s husband.

My Safe Refuge – 17

My Safe Refuge – 17

Richard just came from Palawan. He had been travelling to far provinces for the past three days. He joined the police in following separate leads which claimed the sighting of someone who fit the description of James.

All leads turned out to negative though and it frustrated Richard already. They followed four leads which wasted their time. He was exhausted, frustrated and feeling hopeless.

When the week passed and they weren’t able to get positive results on Maya and Luke’s whereabouts, they decided to put a bounty on James Ventura. They intensified the hunt for him since they learned that he was also in the wanted list for drugs and illegal weapons.

James Ventura’s involvement in these illegal activities aggravated Richard Lim’s fear for the safety of Maya and Luke.

“Brod, mahahanap natin sila. I’m sure of that.” Ryan was trying to allay the fears of his friend. He knew what Richard went through when Alex died and it pains him to see how helpless his friend is now that Maya and Luke are in danger.

“I really hope so Ryan. I would trade anything just to get them both safely and unharmed. Di ko alam ang gagawin ko kung may mangyaring masama kay Maya at Luke. I will never forgive myself.”

“Brod wag kang mag-isip ng ganyan. Mahahanap natin sila. Magtiwala ka lang. It wouldn’t help kapag ganyan ang iniisip mo.

======================

James, Maya and Luke were staying at a rented condo south of Metro Manila.

They actually just stayed there when James found out that he is already wanted by the authorities.

When he got Maya and Luke they’ve been staying in various hotels as James would transact his illegal activities with his clients inconspicuously in those hotels. They would easily be regarded like a family on vacation. Having Maya and Luke with him made everything easier.

But after learning from his contacts that he was already wanted by the PNP and even the NBI, James became very cautious. Being on the watch list limited his mobility and also his resources. Good thing that he had Maya and Luke with him. He could use them to bargain with the authorities in case they find him.

“Mom is having a very high fever dad! Let’s bring her to the hospital please dad!” Luke was already crying and begging for his dad to bring his mom to the hospital. After suffering under the hands of James, Maya’s body finally gave in to the pain, stress, beating and drugs forcibly given her.

“Nobody’s going to the hospital!” James yelled but this didn’t stop Luke from badgering his dad. This no longer scared the boy who felt that he is responsible for his mom.

“We have to bring mom to the hospital!” the boy shouted back. “I will never forgive you if something happens to mom!” Luke angrily answered his dad. “You are a very evil person. You got me and mom to protect yourself! I hate you! I wish you weren’t my dad! I wish you were dead!”

Instead of his usual reaction of beating Luke or lashing hurtful words, something in what his son said affected him.

James only got to say, “There’s a store at the ground floor of this condo. You can buy medicines for your mom there. Buy yourself whatever snacks you want as well but never talk to anyone. You know what would happen kapag sinuway mo ako.” He handed Luke a 500 peso bill.

When Luke was about to go out, his dad again called him and checked his
pockets for cellphone. He didn’t want the boy calling for help.

=================

“Richard you better get some sleep, you don’t look good anymore. We won’t be able to resume our search for Maya kapag nagkasakit ka.” Rafi was already concerned of Richard who hardly eats and sleeps the whole time they were patiently and helplessly waiting for any good news about Maya and Luke.

“Okay lang ako Rafi. Hindi naman ako makakatulog eh. I’ll just have coffee then I’ll be fine. Ikaw, you better go home na muna. I’m sure worried na rin yun si Charlie.”

They were staying at Richard’s Manila residence, the one he used to share with Alex. Though he never wanted to stay here for the house is filled with memories of Alex and it kept reminding him of how he neglected her, he had no choice. Besides it is the best location to wait for updates on Maya and Luke.

Rafi also lives nearby and Ryan is just a neighbor.

“Richard magagalit si Maya once she finds out that you are not taking care of yourself. Magagalit rin yun sakin once she finds out that I allowed you to neglect yourself. Pareho tayong malalagot nito.” Rafi tried to joke, wanting the very worried man in front of her to relax a bit.

Richard smiled and appreciated the attempt of Rafi to ease the tension they were all having. “Sige Rafi iidlip akong saglit kapag nakauwi ka na. Pahatid na kita kay Joma.”

===========

Luke bought paracetamol and flu medicines for his mom.

He also bought some bandages and antiseptic for her wounds which was inflicted by his dad.

He also bought his mom’s favorite fruit juice which his Tito Richard usually buys for her.

He thought of his Tito Richard and became teary eyed when he remembered the last time they saw each other.

Though he didn’t understand why his Tito Richard just allowed his dad to get him and his mom, he still prayed every single day that he would save them. He prayed that he would rescue him and his mom before something worse happens to them.

He had to do something.

Without buying snacks for himself, Luke gathered courage to approach the staff of the store. “Ate I need to call my dad. Nakalimutan ko po kasi yun phone ko. Can I borrow your phone po? Eto po I’ll just pay for the load.” He prayed that the lady would lend him her phone.

“Ano bang pangalan mo? Sige eto gamitin mo phone ko. Wag ka nang magbayad. Dun ka sa loob ng office namin kasi maingay dito.” The lady was helpful to him.

“I’m Luke po. Thank you po Ate.”

Luke dialed his Tito Richard’s number. He memorized it after the typhoon that hit their province before. It was one of the important reminders his Tito Richard had taught him – memorize numbers of important people so he could call them during emergencies even if he uses a different phone.

=================

After Rafi left, Richard had five bottles of beer instead of coffee. He needs it to be able to sleep. He was already annoyed with his mom’s incessant calls telling him to sleep.

His phone rang and he groaned knowing that it is surely his mother again. He ignored it. He didn’t want to talk to her at the state he is in now.

The phone rang again and he still ignored it. As he became annoyed of its sound, he was about to turn it off when a message came in. It was from an unknown number.

“Tito Richard help!” The moment he read the message he hurriedly called the number.

“Hello?”

“Tito Richard he’s been hurting mom. Please help mom. Please…” Luke’s voice was heard on the other line. The boy was trying his best to keep his voice low but he obviously so scared.

“Luke?”

Then he now could hear the boy’s repressed sobs on the other line. His drunkenness suddenly forgotten. The boy seemed finding a hard time to talk as he was in between controlling his sobs and repressing the sound.

He asked again.

“Luke, Tito Richard is here, where are you and your mom?”

“Hindi ko po alam. I’m just buying medicines for mom here sa baba ng condo. Kinulong po kami ni dad dito. I don’t have my cell phone. I just borrowed po from the staff here. Nandun sila ni mom sa taas. He’s forcing mom to take something tapos ng umayaw si mom, he hit her face and may dugo… and…di ko man lang matulungan si mom tapos he was…” Luke was now unable to finish as he was crying again, “now po mom has fever kaya he allowed me to buy medicines.”

“Luke, stay on the phone with Tito Richard okay? I need you to help me find your location. You have to be brave for mom. Can you hear me Luke?”

“Opo.” Luke said in his soft voice, trying to stop his sobs.

“Okay I want you to calm down. Don’t tell anyone there. If the lady who lent you the phone asks why you’re crying just tell her you missed me. I don’t want your daddy James to find out that we talked, understood?”

“Opo.”

“Okay you try to find the name of the condo and the name of the store you are in. Can you see buildings in front of it? It could help if you could describe them too.”

After being able to get the name of the condo and even the exact address from the staff who lent him the phone, Luke provided all the info to his Tito Richard.

“Very good Luke. I’m so proud of you. We can easily find you. I need you to return to your room and take care of your mommy. Just stay with her. Don’t tell her that you called me. We wouldn’t want to risk being heard by your dad.”

“Yes po. Please hurry up Tito Richard.”

“I will Luke. I promise I will.”

===============

Richard didn’t waste time. The moment he ended the call, he alerted the authorities. He called Rafi and Ryan as well.

In no time, they were on their way to the condo, which, fortunately was located in Manila. Richard could imagine what’s happening from what Luke said and he couldn’t help but blame himself for being unable to protect Maya and her son.

He was so focused on himself and the pain he felt that he was even unable to notice the fear in Maya and Luke’s eyes when they saw James in the resort. He thought they feared being found out by him. He was so selfish to even realize that the fear was for Maya’s husband.

“Sabi ko na sa’yo we will be able to find them.” Rafi who was beside him already noticed how quiet he was so she tried to strike a conversation.

He just nodded his head and smiled at Rafi.

=================

The moment the whole team arrived at the condo, they easily apprehended James Ventura.

He was handcuffed and had him arrested for kidnapping, illegal drugs and illegal possession of firearms. He would also be charged with physical abuse.

He didn’t say anything when he was led outside the unit.

The policemen also ensured that Richard Lim won’t go near James for they feared that with what they saw in the condo, he might not be able to control himself and harm James Ventura which might even complicate their case.

The unit reeked with the smell of liquor and cigarettes. There were empty cans of beer in every corner of the unit, on the dining table and on the small table of the living room. Empty boxes of pizza were also on the table and it meant that James had been feeding Maya and Luke pizza for it was the most convenient food to be ordered.

Also seen on top of the table were colorful tablets which were identified by the authorities as party drugs. Some were sealed but some were empty which meant that James Ventura could have consumed them.

Rafi and Ryan could see how furious Richard was with what they found out in the condo.

Richard then knocked and called Luke to open the room where he and his mom were staying. Earlier, he instructed Luke to just stay inside the room, lock it and never come out until he arrives. He didn’t want to risk Maya and Luke being caught in a gunfire incase James Ventura fights the police.

The moment the door opened…

“Tito Richard!” Luke jumped into his arms. The boy cried the moment he saw his Tito Richard, Tito Ryan and Tita Rafi.

Rafi smiled at the display of affection between Luke and Richard. She wasn’t surprised anymore that Luke ran to Richard first before hugging her and Ryan as well.

“Rafi, Ryan puntahan ko muna si Maya. Dito na muna sa inyo si Luke.”

“Okay Richard.”

They all allowed him and Maya some privacy and closed the door.

Richard proceeded near her bed. Maya was just blanky staring at him. She was so frail, too weak to even react. She was pale, very thin and there were bruises all over her arms, under her chin, there were dark marks on her neck and a scar near her left eye. Ever her mouth was swollen.

He couldn’t believe that Maya’s husband could do this to her in front of their son.

“Maya, I’m here… you and Luke are safe now.”

He hugged her, careful not to exert much force that could further inflict pain on her bruised body. He kissed the top of her head, her forehead, her cheeks.

She still remained quiet but she was staring at him trying her best to convey her gratitude for being saved from James Ventura. Tears were already welling in her eyes.

Richard stared deeply into her eyes as well…. “It’s all over Maya. Wala na si James. He is already arrested. Safe na kayo ni Luke. Please be brave okay? Si Luke…he’s such a brave boy. He was the one who called me that’s why we found you. Your son had the courage to do it because of you, sana ganun ka rin. These wounds will heal Maya. magiging okay rin ang lahat.” He told her lovingly.

Maya gave him a small smile then she suddenly became unconscious.

Richard called the medical team who was just outside the room. They already checked on Luke.

As Maya was wheeled on a stretcher outside the room, Richard went inside the bathroom with the intention to splash water on his face.

Inside, he saw several empty boxes of contraceptives. He was all the more enraged that he didn’t notice anymore how he clenched his fists then hit the bathroom wall.

He started throwing up as well. After a few minutes and after splashing water to his face, Richard sat on the toilet seat, his hands covering his face.

He silently sobbed for the all the pain the woman he loved had to endure.

He sobbed for his guilt of not being able to protect her and her son.

He knows that aside from the physical pain Maya suffered, a deeper emotional wound is again embedded in her being.

He just hoped that despite what he did, Maya would be able to forgive him.

He hoped that she will still allow him into her life.

========

A/N. Sorry natagalan to. Aside from being busy, it’s hard for me to write this.

My Safe Refuge 16

My Safe Refuge 16

It only took 15 minutes for Richard to reach Maya’s place. The anger he harbored the past days now turned to worry especially with what Ryan said and with Maya reminding him of their special day which she intentionally mentioned to be Nikki’s birthday. She couldn’t just erroneously mention the date if it holds no significance. There could be a reason for it. There could be a reason why she said all those things to him.

“Richard asan sina Maya? Akala ko magkasama kayo. Sinundo mo sila dito. Ipinagkatiwala ko sila sa’yo. Anong nangyari sa mag-ina?” Manang Fe bombarded Richard with questions the moment she opened the gate and saw him. The look of fear, not just worry was evident on her face.

“Manang Fe sumama si Maya sa asawa nya. Nagpakilala na siya si James Ventura. Nalilito rin po ako. Hindi ko maintindihan ang mga pangyayari. I thought he was dead. I don’t understand…”

Manang Fe led him inside the house.

“Manang Fe naglihim si Maya sa kin. Akala ko patay na yung asawa….”

“Muntik na syang mapatay ni James noon, Richard. Muntik na rin nyang mapatay si Luke…”

“Manang?”

“Hindi ni Maya ginustong maglihim sa’yo. Hindi naman namin pinaguusapan ni Maya yun nakaraan nya ngunit alam kong hindi nya ginusto na wag sabihin sa’yo. Natatakot lang siya. Nahihiya s’ya. Kahit sinong may ganung pinagdaanan ay pipiliin na wag na lang yun balikan.”

“She could have trusted me Manang. How could I protect her if she left me in the dark in all these.”

“Richard, nabanggit sa akin ni Maya na ikaw ang pinakamagandang nangyari sa buhay nya. Palagi nyang sinasabi sa’kin na lahat ng madilim na nakaraan nila ni Luke ay nalimutan nya ng makilala ka nya. Siguro natakot si Maya na baka iwasan mo sya kapag nalaman mo yun totoo. Baka natakot siya na iwanan mo siya.”

“Manang, was she still uncertain of the love I showed her? Kulang ba yun? She didn’t trust the love I have for her? Mahal na mahal ko siya Manang. Mahal ko sila ni Luke.”

“Richard madaling sabihin yun pagtitiwala kasi hindi ikaw yun nasa sitwasyon ni Maya. Hindi ikaw yun nagkaroon ng asawa na akala nya ay proprotekta sa kanilang mag-ina ngunit yun pala ay siya pang mananakit sa kanila. Hindi ikaw yun nakaramdam ng sobrang takot at pag-aalala. Hindi ikaw yun nagtago sa bahay ng ilang buwan sa para lang di mahanap ni James. Mabait rin si James ng una silang magkakilala ni Maya. Hindi mo maaalis sa kanya na mahirapan sa pagtitiwala.”

“I’m sorry Manang. Hindi ko alam. I never realized how painful Maya’s past is. I didn’t know how to react when I saw the guy with her especially when Maya calmly told me that he was indeed her husband. I’m sorry Manang. Pero pinapangako ko, hahanapin ko sila. I love her and Luke more than my life. Hindi ko na hahayaang masaktan pa sila. I will protect them.” Richard bowed his head so ashamed of what he has done.

“Mahal na mahal ka ni Maya, Richard. Kapag nagmahal ang batang yan, iniisip nya palagi yun kapakanan ng iba, bago yun sarili nya. Iniisip nya na wag masaktan yun ibang tao. Handa nyang isakripisyo yun sarili nya alang-alang sa anak nya at sa yo na rin. Siguro inisip rin ni Maya na masasaktan ka kapag nalaman mong may asawa pa siya.”

Richard couldn’t say anything more. His mind is now filled with worry and hearing Manang Fe’s stories on how Maya and Luke suffered in the hands of James, he couldn’t help but be disturbed with possible scenarios filling his mind.

“Ang importante ngayon ay mahanap natin sila ni Luke bago pa mahuli ang lahat.”

“Opo Manang. I won’t stop until I get them back. Ibabalik ko sila ni Luke, Manang Fe. Pinapangako ko.” He promised as he hugged the woman who already became Maya and Luke’s family the moment she decided to stay with them and take care of them.

======================

Richard wasted no time. Together with Manang Fe, they went to Maya’s former house, the one he shared with James before only to find out that it is now owned by a different person. The new owner gave them James Ventura’s contact address and number, which turned out to be nonexistent anymore.

Rafi also arrived with her husband Charlie the day after. It was Ryan who informed her of what happened. Rafi had no choice but to tell Ryan about James and Maya.

Ryan also vowed to help when he found out the real story. He understood Maya for not telling Richard about her past. He also understood what Richard felt being left blind in all these.

But those are not important at the moment. Their main concern is to find Maya and Luke and ensure their safety.

====================

The five days of searching for their whereabouts thru common friends, business colleagues of James that Rafi knows, searching through social media links, searching in hotels, resorts and even hospitals, yielded no positive results. They were all frustrated and Richard’s worry on Maya and Luke’s condition intensified each passing minute, second.

He already reported it to the police and the NBI and they were all helping in locating Maya and Luke.

A week have passed and there were still no positive results.

James hid himself well.

He hid himself well not because he knew that someone would try to search for his wife and son. He was confident that no one would bother to search for Maya. He was sure that the phone call with Richard Lim would certainly hurt his ego and he would eventually stop pursuing Maya.

James was hiding because of his deep involvement in the illegal drug trade. He knows that he is on the watch list so he’s been roaming around using a different name which makes it even harder for Richard to find Maya.

=================

“Son, okay na si Nikki?” Esmeralda joined Richard while he was having coffee at their veranda.

Earlier that day, Richard had to return to their province to check on his daughter who was rushed to the hospital.

“Yes ma. Bukas iuuwi ko na sya. The doctor said that she ate something in their canteen which caused her stomachache.”

“Babalik ka sa hospital?”

“Yes ma. I just took a shower and changed my clothes. Kumuha na rin ng pamalit ni Nikki. Nagkape lang din muna para makahinga ng konti.”

His eyes conveyed sadness and his mom knows that aside from his daughter, Richard is worried of Maya and Luke.

“Ricky ano nang balita….”

“Wala pa rin Ma. This is so frustrating. What if I don’t find them? What if it’s too late? What if nasaktan na nya si Maya? What if?…”

“Ricky…” Esmeralda engulfed her son in her arms knowing very well that despite his stern and strong front, he also needs comfort right now.

Richard is a total mess. He even missed shaving, he had dark circles around his eyes and he lost weight.

He barely slept, barely ate. He spent most of his time visiting people whom he thinks could help him find Maya and Luke’s whereabouts.

Roberto joined his wife and son when he saw Esmeralda embracing Ricky. He was observing the two earlier.

“Son…”

Richard composed himself upon hearing his father. He immediately wiped his eyes. He couldn’t help but cry and pour out all his frustrations while being hugged by his mom. Esmeralda had always been his source of strength even before when Alex died.

Roberto also patted his son’s shoulder. He knows that the fear Ricky has for Maya and Luke is further aggravated by his guilt for not being able to protect them.

“Pa, gising pa kayo?”

“Yes. I was on the phone with General Ocampo. I already asked their help Ricky. Even the Immigration people had been alerted in case Maya, Luke and James Ventura shows up. Even the local ports and domestic airports had been given instructions as well. We will find them son. We will.”

Roberto Lim had contacts in the military having served the Navy during his younger years. He maintained ties with people who are now holding high positions in the Armed Forces. He sought for their help in locating Maya and Luke as well

Richard gave his dad a sad smile. He was thankful that his parents were always there to support him, to be by his side whenever something happens to him and his kids.

Just like when Alex died, Roberto and Esmeralda Lim had always been there for him. They were patient even when Richard seemed to have lost his will to live. They never gave up on him until the time Richard realized that he has his daughters to keep him going on.

Now with the fear of losing Maya and Luke as well, Richard will again draw strength from the pillars of his life.

===================

 

 

A/N : Pardon the errors. No time to edit. This is just a quick write while dumapo si inspiration to continue.

My Safe Refuge – 15

My Safe Refuge – 15

After talking to Ryan, Richard was totally affected. He got worried for both Maya and Luke. What if Ryan was right? What if Maya and Luke were indeed in danger? But Maya admitted that the guy was her husband. There was no hesitation, no trace of hostility between the two. Maya seemed wary and nervous but it could be because her secret had been found out by him. The guy seemed okay.

But maybe he couldn’t see clearly or think clearly. Maybe out of guilt for having an affair with James’ wife, he failed to see beyond what the guy is really like.

Maybe his judgement was clouded due to his surprise and anger on what he found out.

Trying so hard to set aside his pain, his anger, his pride, he called Maya’s phone. He just needs to check on her, hear her voice. Maybe he would be able to sense if she was okay or if Manang Fe’s fear, whom Ryan observed meant something.

After five rings his call was answered.

“Hello. Maya?”

Then a male voice answered. “Hello! Good Morning! This is her husband, James Ventura. Sorry it took me so long to answer. I was taking a shower. Maya is still asleep. May I know who’s calling? ” James very well know that it was Richard who was calling for his name and face was flashing on Maya’s screen. He was staring at Maya while answering the phone in his fake polite manner.

“Oh I’m sorry. This is Richard Lim. Please just tell Maya that I called. I need to ask her something, something about Luke’s school.” Richard exerted all effort to talk calmly on the phone.

“Ah Richard Lim. Yun father of Luke’s classmate. I remember you. Sige I’ll tell Maya that you called pag gumising na sya. Napagod kasi yun kagabi. Alam mo na making up for the lost time.” Then he laughed which was intended to taunt Richard.

Richard’s blood rushed to his fists and he clenched his jaws. He also laughed but bitterly. “Yes James I understand. Sorry to bother both of you.”

“Oh no you’re not a bother at all. I know that malaking naitulong mo sa mag-ina ko. They both speak highly of you. And I’m thankful that you took care of them while wala ako dyan. You took care of them kahit di mo naman sila kaano-ano. Sabi nga ni Maya, marami kang tinutulungan at marami kang kaibigan. Thank you for being a very good friend to them Richard. O sige ill just inform Maya later. Bye.” Then James ended the call.

James is indeed cunning. He was able to make Richard believe that he was a very understanding husband to his wife. James’ intention to make Richard guilty was really effective. Now Richard felt like he was a very bad person having an affair with a married woman. What Richard didn’t know was James played everything so well and that he had a gun pointed at Maya while he was answering Richard’s call.

Instead of getting things cleared, the phone call made it worse for Richard.

He opened another bottle of wine. Though it’s just mid morning, he needed it to momentarily erase that conversation he just had with Maya’s husband.

=====================

“At tumawag pa talaga yun lalaki na yun ha Maya! Malakas ang loob. Ano kayang pwede kong gawin sa kanya?” James knew exactly how to make Maya be at his mercy. He would use Richard Lim.

“James nakikiusap ako. Tayo lang naman ang may problema. Wag ka nang mandamay ng mga wala namang kinalaman sa atin. Hindi naman ni Richard alam yun tungkol sa atin. Gagawin ko naman ang gusto mo wag mo lang siyang guguluhin. Nagmamakaawa ako James.” She was pleading.

“Wow! Ganyan ba siya kaimportante sa’yo para makiusap ka ng ganyan Maya? Nakakainsulto! Pero sige pagbibigyan kita. Mamaya tawagan mo at gawin mo ang lahat para mapaniwala siya na ginamit mo lang siya na pampalipas oras habang nagkakaproblema tayo. Do everything so he’ll stop bothering our family.”

“James di ko na lang sasagutin yun mga tawag nya. Titigil na lang yun.” She couldn’t find it in her heart to call Richard and further lie to him.

“Tatawagan mo sya at gagalitin mo sya para kalimutan ka na nya. Gagawin mo yan o ako mismo ang gagawa ng paraan para hinding hindi mo na sya makikitang buhay?”

“James!!!”

“It’s your call Maya. It’s up to you. Call him or I’ll kill him.”

======================

Richard was still drinking when his phone rang. Maya is calling him. As much as he hated her and he doesn’t want to hear her voice after talking to her husband, Richard answered the phone.

“Ricky?”

“Maya…”

“Gusto ko lang magsorry sa paglilihim ko. Nagkaroon lang kami ng di pagkakaunawaan ng asawa ko na naayos naman namin na. Salamat sa pagiging mabuting kaibigan pero sana huli na ang paguusap nating eto. Gusto ko ring maayos ang pagsasama namin ni James at pangit naman kung patuloy akong magiging malapit sa’yo. Di ko makakalimutan yun birthday ni Nikki ng August 5 kasi napakasaya namin ni Luke. Pinasaya nyo kami ni Luke sa party na yun. Salamat Ricky. Bye.” Then she ended the call.

He didn’t have the chance to say anything.

Her call hurt and confused him as well.

August 5 is not Nikki’s birthday but it was actually the day they became a couple.

Something is indeed wrong.

Though he’s now nursing a severe headache because of the wine he drank, Richard wasted no time and took a shower, prepared himself and drove towards Maya’s home.

==========================

“Mommy I am sorry po.” Luke was embracing his mom. He was crying.

“Anak wala kang kasalanan. Don’t be sorry. Just follow what your father tells you para wag ka nyang sasaktan. You father is good kaya lang sinira ng drugs yun mind nya that’s why he’s hurting us. He is not aware of it anak.” Maya tried to make Luke understand his father.

“Pero mommy kung hindi ako bumili ng ice crea hindi ako makikita ni dad, hindi sana tayo nandito. Sana masaya pa rin tayo kasama sina Tito Richard at Nikki. Sana wala ka pong wound dyan sa face mo. Sana hindi ka po nahihirapan now.” The boy hugged his mom tighter and cried louder.

James left them inside his condo, the place where he transferred when Maya and Luke left him. James sold their house and bought the condo.

He left them but he brought their cellphones and he locked his unit. He threatened Maya that if she tries to do something silly, he could easily ask his friends to hurt Richard or his family especially his daughter, Nikki.

Maya wouldn’t risk it. She is aware of how crazy James could get.

Now she needs to focus on Luke first. She must ensure Luke’s safety even though it meant following everything James asks her to do. She will try her best to understand James for the meantime while she had no one to rescue her.

Maybe just like when Rafi and Charlie saved her and Luke a few years ago, an angel would again be sent by God to save them before it’s too late.

Yes. Maya still believed in miracles and answered prayers.

She is praying that Richard would be able to forgive her.

She is praying that James would stop beating her and their son.

She is praying that all these will come to an end…soon, before it’s too late.

 

My Safe Refuge – 14

My Safe Refuge 14

“So Maya yun lalaking kasama mo kanina, siya ba yung rason kung bakit ka umalis at dinala mo pa yun anak natin? May ibang lalaki ka pala.” James Ventura sarcastically retorted.

“Alam natin na hindi yun ang dahilan James. Ikaw yun nagtulak sa amin para lumayo, para magtago. Ikaw at yun bisyo mo, yun pananakit mo sa amin ni Luke. Yun ang dahilan.”

But James ignored what she said. He continued.

“Binalak kong kasuhan ka ng kidnapping Maya, pero ngayon meron na akong pwedeng idagdag. Maaari kitang kasuhan ng adultery. Sabagay mukhang may kaya naman yun kinakasama mo. Maaari ka nyang matulungan. Mukha ring mabait. Hmmm… ano kayang pwedeng gawin ko sa kanya?”

“Wag kang mandadamay ng ibang tao. Alam natin ang totoong dahilan James. Nananahimik na kami ni Luke. Please lang. Wag mo na kaming guluhin.”

“And akala mo Maya ganun na lang yun? Hindi naman ako papayag. Sasama na kayo ni Luke sa akin.”

“Hindi yun maaari James. Hindi mo na kami kayang takutin. Maayos na yun buhay namin.”

“Talaga? Maayos na ang buhay nyo? Ah kasi meron ka nga palang kasama ngayon. Kanina ko pa kayo pinagmamasdan Maya. Ang sweet nyo ha! At close na rin kayo ni Luke sa pamilya nila. Yun dalawang bata anak ba nya? Richard Lim, mukhang kilalang negosyante siya Maya – pilantropo, maraming negosyo tapos yun mga magulang naman eh sobrang iginagalang sa bayan nila.”

Maya was surprised that James knew that much about Richard. She was so worried for him. James is very capable of hurting people.

Unknown to Maya, James Ventura have seen them already when the group of Richard arrived earlier today but instead of confronting her, he opted to do a little research on the man who was with his wife, the man whom he saw, was making his wife laugh, the man who was super sweet and touchy towards his wife. All he needed was to ask for the name and address of Maya’s companion. Despite being the wife-beating, alcoholic, drug addict jerk he is, James Ventura is very charming in his own way. He could easily make people think that he is a very good man. He uses this charm to his advantage. He used this charm to ask the resort’s front desk employee for information regarding Richard Lim. Getting Richard’s name and address was all he needed to get further details about Richard Lim’s work or business or any personal details from the web. A few clicks here and there easily gave him some information about Richard, his business and his family. Their being known in their province made it easier for James to get the information he needed.

“James please nakikiusap ako. Wag mo nang idadamay ang pamilya ni Richard. Wala naman silang kinalaman dito. Kahit si Richard walang alam tungkol sa’yo. Please naman James.” She was begging. She didn’t want Richard to be involved in her problem with James. She loves him so much. She wanted to protect him and his family from James. This was the very reason why she didn’t want to get involved with Richard before.

“Depende yan sa’yo Maya. Madali naman akong kausap. Sumama kayo ni Luke sakin, hindi ko pakikialaman si Richard Lim. Pero kapag pinahirapan mo ako, kapag tumakas ka ulit, sisiguraduhin kong madadamay siya at ang kanyang pamilya. Alam na alam mo ang kaya kong gawin Maya.”

“Please naman James.” She was begging him, holding his arm to beg him to stop bothering them.

“Ikaw ang bahala Maya. Kunsabagay masaya rin na lagyan ng konting aksyon ang mukhang napaka boring na buhay nyang si Richard Lim.”

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After his phone call, Richard sought for Maya. He went to the stalls where he knows she will look for her son.

From afar, he already saw Maya seriously talking to a guy while Luke was tightly holding his mother’s hand.

He didn’t like what he saw.

He rushed to where Maya was.

“Maya i was looking for you and Luke.”

He ignored the guy Maya was talking to. He felt jealous at what he saw but he didn’t want to get upset so he just pretended not to notice him.

But James had something else in mind.

“Honey hindi mo ba ako ipapakilala sa kaibigan mo?”

This infuriated Richard.

And who are you?”

“I am James Ventura, the husband of Maya dela Rosa- Ventura and father of Luke Andrew dela Rosa Ventura.” James draped his arm around Maya’s shoulders. He was giving his fake smile to the shocked Richard Lim.

She was trying her best to act calm as she didn’t want to cause any commotion. She was so worried for Richard and also scared for herself and Luke.

“Maya is this true?” a very surprised Richard was asking her, hoping that she would deny it.

“Oo Ricky siya ang daddy ni Luke.” Maya couldn’t even look him in the eye.

She was already scared and Luke was obviously trembling in fear but Richard didn’t notice it. He was too focused on what he found out. He was focused on the shock, pain and anger he felt upon finding out that Maya isn’t actually a widow which she made him believe all these months.

“Excuse me pare, isasama ko na ang mag-ina ko. Nagkatampuhan lang kami nito pero aayusin namin. Salamat sa kung anuman na pagasikaso mo sa kanila.” James addressed Richard still with his fake smile. He even shook his hand.

Maya couldn’t speak and Luke was hugging the side of his mom.

“Okay pare. Bahala ka na sa kanila. Isinama lang namin sila ng pamilya ko kasi magkaklase yun mga bata.” Richard was at a loss of what to say so he chose to be civil.

Despite being mad, he didn’t want to cause further problems to Maya and her husband. Maya is not explaining so he couldn’t really understand what’s happening.

Then James left with Maya and Luke leaving the distraught Richard Lim behind.

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Richard banged the door of his hotel room. He was furious. He never felt so led on and betrayed all his life.

His mother decided to cut short their vacation after witnessing the incident between Maya and the man who claimed to be her husband. She saw how surprised, clueless and helpless Richard was. Then she saw how her son became quiet and obviously enraged with what he found out.

It was fortunate that Roberto and their two apos were swimming together with the rest of the group when the scene happened.

When Maya and Luke left with her husband, Esmeralda Lim immediately suggested to Richard that they should all just go home but her son requested to stay behind. He needs to clear his head. He also didn’t want anyone at home to know about what happened. He still wanted to protect Maya and Luke. He didn’t want anybody to think badly of them.

So Maya is married and her husband is still alive. She lied to him.

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“Brod wala ka sa office mo last week. I went there.”

He just stared blankly at Ryan. He’s on his third glass of wine.

“Ang aga nyan ah. Nag-almusal ka na ba?” Ryan tried again.

“Ryan why are you here?”

“Whoah! Bakit bawal na bang dumalaw sa’yo? Ang hirap mong hanapin. I have to threaten Joma para sabihin nya kung nasaan ka.”

“I’m busy and I’m not a very good companion lately. Sa sunod na lang tayo magkwentuhan brod.”

“Richard, alam ko na yun nangyari. Nakwento na nang mama mo sakin.”

He gave him an angry stare, upset that Ryan and his mom were talking about him.

“Hey don’t get mad at your mom. Nag-aalala lang naman kami sa’yo. You’re not answering your phone at di ka rin pumupunta sa building nyo tapos nalaman ko pa na you are renting this unit. Aba parang naglayas ka lang brod.”

“I don’t want the kids to see me like this.”

“Alam ko naman pero you won’t solve anything by drinking and hiding here.”

“There’s nothing to be solved Ryan so hayaan mo na muna ako to be miserable for being an idiot.”

“Brod…”

“Ryan please. Gusto ko na munang mapag-isa.”

“Okay I won’t say anything pero dito lang muna ako. I drove ten hours upang makarating dito. Makikipahinga lang muna ako, kung pwede.”

“Brod there’s a hotel nearby. Dun ka na lang. I really need to be alone.”

Ryan didn’t insist anymore. Richard had gone through the same situation when he blamed himself for his wife’s death.

On the way to the door, Ryan had to tell him one last thing…

“Brod pumunta ako kina Maya bago ako dumeretso dito…”

“Ryan please stop!”

“…nagulat si Manang Fe ng sinabi ko na sumama si Maya sa asawa nya. Takot na takot si Manang Fe. Akala nya magkasama kayo. Akala nya napasarap yun bakasyon nyo kaya hindi umuwi yun mag-ina. Akala nya walang signal sa pinuntahan ninyong beach resort. Nagpapatulong sa akin na hanapin sina Maya. Hindi ko maintindihan yun buong pangyayari at kung bakit ganun ang reaksyon ni Manang Fe. Kailangan ko lang sabihin sayo kasi baka may alam ka or may naikwento si Maya tungkol sa asawa nya.”

Richard was surprised with what Ryan shared. He stared at him, without saying anything.

Ryan added…

“Alam kong masakit yun pinaglihiman ka ni Maya. Baka nga akala mo ginamit ka lang nya. Pero brod sana lawakan mo muna yun pang-unawa mo. She may have her own reasons why she did it. You told me yourself na she always prefers to be private, to stay home at sinabi mo rin na di ka nya sinagot noon kasi may mga sarili siyang isyu sa nakaraan nya. She really didn’t hide it from you. Hindi lang nga sinabi kung ano. You don’t even know how she is right now. Sa pagkakakilala mo ba kay Maya masama ba siyang tao? Manggagamit ba siya? Could it be that she’s suffering at this very moment? Could it be na mas nasasaktan siya ngayon?”

Ryan slowly went back to the chair he occupied awhile ago. He seemed to make progress in talking sense to his friend.

“Ryan sumama siya ng di sya pinilit. She just left without saying anything. She never called, never texted.”

“Inalam mo man lang ba kung bakit? Do you think Maya would allow herself to be romantically involved with you kung okay sila ng asawa nya? Masaya ba sya ng nakita yun asawa nya? Takot? Galit? Ano? What have you seen?”

“I no longer give a damn what she feels. She played with me. I loved her brod. Mas minahal ko pa nga siya kay Alex. She could have told me that he husband is alive. I’ve been consoling her all these time thinking that she was a widow and she never corrected it. Pinagmukha nya akong tanga. I’ve bared my whole heart to her. I even opened up about Alex, about my family to her. Hindi nya man lang pinahalagahan yun.” Then the strong Richard Lim sobbed letting out all the hurt, anger and betrayal he felt.

“Brod, alamin mo muna the reason why she hid it from you. Alamin mo muna kung bakit hinayaan nyang isipin mo, isipin natin na patay na yung asawa nya. Maya loves you brod. Nakita ko yun tuwing ikinukwento ka nya. I’m sure she won’t be able to fake that look whenever she talks about you. I’m definitely sure that twinkle in her eyes, those beaming smiles are not just for show. Be reasonable enough to set aside your bruised ego and find out what really happened and why it happened. Baka kailangan ka ng mag-ina. Don’t wait until it’s to late to save them. Sa nakita ko kay Manang Fe natatakot ako para kay Maya brod.”

Richard didn’t say anything. He just stared at the glass on top of his table. His eyes were still red from crying awhile ago.

“Sige brod. I have to go. If you can’t pull yourself up for your own sake, do it for the kids. Do it for your parents. Do it for Maya and Luke brod.”

Then Ryan left the totally shaken Richard Lim.

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