Richard still couldn’t believe his eyes. Never in a million years did it ever crossed his mind that M and the lady he was with inside the jeepney would be the same woman.
“It’s you! It’s really you!” Richard exclaimed. He wanted so bad to hug the woman in front of him but he decided not to do so thinking Maya would reject it.
“Ako? Anong ako?” Maya confusedly asked. Richard has been staring at her the entire time. Those eyes looking at her are now starting to make her feel uncomfortable. “M-may dumi ba ko sa mukha, Richard? Kanina ka pa nakatitig sa’kin eh.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to.” He said. “It’s just that … Do you remember that time when you were inside the jeepney? You were carrying your luggage then.”
Maya paused as she tried to recall what Richard is talking about. “Alin dun? Lagi naman akong nasakay sa jeep eh.”
“It was that time when you cried. Tapos may nag-abot sa’yo ng panyo.” He said, waiting for Maya’s reaction.
Maya’s eyes widened when Richard mentioned the whole handkerchief thing. She remembered that time perfectly. It was unintentional, but her tears fell down that time because she remembered James. And then out the blue, the man sitting in front of her gave her a hanfkerchief. She accepted it and used it to wipe her tears. She didn’t even remember that she fell asleep after that and when she woke up, the man was not there anymore, leaving her with his handkerchief. Even though she just had a glimpse of him for a few seconds, Maya would always remember his chinky-eyes. And when she bolted her head up to look at Richard, she gasped when she saw that it was him. “Ikaw yun! Ikaw yung nagbigay sa’kin ng panyo!” She exclaimed.
Richard let out a laugh. “Yes, it was me. I can’t believe this! This is all surreal!”
“I know!” Maya replied. She, too, has this huge smile acroos her face, just like Richard’s. She couldn’t believe that in all the people in the world, the one who actually helped her that time was the same man she’s sharing this Christmas night with. “Teka, bakit ka nasa jeep? And don’t tell me na nagko-commute ka lang kasi hindi talaga ako maniniwala!”
Richard chuckled. “Bumalik ka muna dun sa pwesto mo nang matapos na natin ‘tong dinner.” Maya giggled and did what he said. When Maya returned to eating, Richard continued. “Believe it or not, my car drained its battery. And I promised a dinner with my parents that time kaya kailangan ko agad makauwi.”
Maya giggled. “I can’t believe that the Richard Lim would ride on a jeepney just to go home.”
“Stop mocking me.” He said. “Buti na lang talaga at naalala ko kung paano. It’s been so long since I last rode a jeepney. Buti na rin at di ako naligaw.”
Maya laughed. “Kung alam ko lang na si Richard Lim yung nakasakay ko nun sa jeep, tinandaan ko na yang mukhang yan, baka nga kinuhanan pa kita ng picture eh!”
Richard choked when Maya teased him about her taking his photo. A faint color of red was on his cheeks as he was guilty of him taking a photo of her without her permission.
“Oh? Ayos ka lang?” Maya worriedly asked.
“Yeah, I’m okay.” Richard said in between coughs. “Baka naalala ako ng isa sa mga fans ko.” He added, making Maya laugh.
The dinner went on as the two of them enjoyed each others company. Unlike before, they are now unafraid to ask the opposite about some personal informations.
As the dinner was about to finish, Richard dared to open this topic that was bugging him. “Maya?”
“Would you mind if I ask you why you were crying when we first saw each other?”
Maya paused for a while. And then she shook her head. “Gawa ni James.” She said. Maya felt that she needs to tell the story somehow. It would mean a lot to her because that will symbolize that she’s now ready to move on with her life.
Richard stilled when he heard a man’s name. “Oh, I-I see. Is he .. uh, a-alam ba niyang you’re with me this night?” He stammered.
Maya produced a smile and nodded her head. “Oo.”
Richard gulped. “I-I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to .. uhm, is it alright with him na ako kasama mo ngayon? Well, I know that you told me ..” He trailed off. He wasn’t expecting that Maya would mention another man’s name. It felt like his heart fell down immediately.
“Ayos lang yun kay James.” Maya said, aware that Richard is somewhat feeling uncomfortable when she mentioned James. “Richard.”
“Yes?” He looked straight her.
Maya took a few breaths. When she felt that she’s ready she said, “Patay na si James.”
“Oh, I-I’m sorry to hear that.” He said. “I’m guessing that’s the reason why you’re crying?”
Maya nodded. “Matagal na naman yun.” She said but she felt tears springing from her eyes. Richard saw it and stood immediately. “Tara, the view outside will help you relax.” He said as he laid out his hand. Maya gladly accepted it. The two of them walked outside and Richard was right. The place looks like the view from the balcony last summit. The lake was surrounded by lanterns and the cool breeze of December roamed around.
Richard gave Maya his coat but instead of saying thank you, Maya looked at him. “Saan galing ‘to? Wala ka namang coat na suot kanina sa loob ah.”
The man beside her just grinned. “You’re too observant. Nasa sandalan ng upuan ko ‘yan. I did not wear it inside kasi mainit. Dinala ko lang kasi I have this gut feeling na lalamigin ka dito sa labas.”
“Thank you.” Maya said as she put it on. She smiled when Richard’s coat loosely hugged her. It’s been a while since she accepted a man’s coat like this.
“Do you mind if I ask how he died?” Richard asked.
“Car accident. Three years ago.” Maya answered.
“He was your boyfriend?” He dared to ask.
“Fiancé.” She simply answered.
Richard just nodded and took a deep breath. He decided not to ask anymore questions because he knew, Maya is stil hurting inside. “Let’s play a game.” He said.
“Ha? Anong laro?” Maya asked, bewildered at Richard’s sudden change of topic.
“Huhulaan kita.” He said with a huge smile on his face.
Maya laughed. “Huhulaan mo ako? Sige nga.”
Richard chuckled. “You were at Starbucks yesterday. Around ten in the morning.” He said.
A smile crept across Maya’s face. “Ha? Paano mo nalaman -”
“Shh. Hinuhulaan pa kita.” Richard added, making both of them laugh. “You ordered a frappe. Venti. Sorry but I can’t see what flavor you ordered.” He said, as he patted his head like he wants to remember it.
Maya continued to laugh. “Java Chip. Ano pa Mr. Lim?”
Richard nodded. “And when you were done, may sumalubong sa’yong lalaki nung lumabas ka ng Starbucks.”
“Magagalit sa’yo si Emman kapag nalaman niyang tinawag mo syang babae.” Maya said.
“Ha? But I clearly saw a man -”
“He’s gay, Richard.” Maya said as she continued to laugh. Richard felt relieved at what Maya just said. He knew he still has a chance. “Teka, stalker kita no?”
“Sabi ko nga sa’yo huhulaan kita di ba?” He said. “Last na ‘to, umaalis na yung powers ko. You went to church before going here.”
Maya gaped at him. “Richard! Stalker ka!”
“I wasn’t stalking! Nagkataon lang na nandun din ako sa mga pinuntahan mo no.” He said. “Ah, you made me blurt out my secret!”
Maya laughed at him. She missed laughing like this and to top it all, she’s laughing because of Richard Lim. “Sabi na kilala mo na ko eh.”
“No. I swear, Maya. I just noticed you kasi nga ibinigay ko sa’yo yung panyo ko di ba?” He said.
“Asuuus! Ay yung panyo mo nga pala nasakin pa -”
“Keep it.” He said. “So bale pala kung kilala na kita, hindi na sana ako tumawag pa kasi nandun ka na rin lang pala sa Starbucks.”
“Oo nga no.” Maya said. “Parang nakita din kita nun kahapon, habang may kausap ka sa phone. Nakangiti ka pa ha.”
“Of course. Ikaw kausap ko eh.” He said. Maya flushed with what Richard said. “Eh ikaw? Nakangiti ka rin nung may kausap ka sa phone ah. And I know for a fact that it was me you were talking to, kasi kausap kita nun sa phone.” He said. He took a glimpse of the lady beside him when she failed to reply. Richard saw her completely red. “You’re all red, Maya.” Richard teased.
“Ehh kasi ikaw eh.” She said and the she looked back at him. “Bakit mo alam? Tinititigan mo ako no?” She asked.
“What if I say yes? And remember that you thought that I was not well because I’m not replying? It was because I’m looking at you.” He honestly said.
Maya felt her cheeks heating up and to prevent it, she asked another question. “Bakit? Crush mo ko ano?” She asked with a teasing smile. She thought she could turn the table around by asking him that but she was mistaken whe Richard answered.
“Yes. I have a crush on you.”
A/N : Merry Christmas po sa mga nasa ibang bansa! 25 po dyan dba? Sa mga nakareceive po ng email kanina tungkol po sa ACOH11, sorry po ulit. Napindot ko lang po yung publish button kahit na hindi pa po tapos. 🙂
Happy new year!!