“Richard, your client – What the hell bro? What’s with your eyes?” James stood up from his seat and walked in front of Richard. He narrowed his eyes at him once he was there. “Nakagat ka ba ng insekto? Bakit ganyan ang mata mo?”
“I’ll tell you later, James.” Richard simply answered. “Is Mr. Rivera already here? Ngayon yung presentation ko ng final draft right?” He asked and then he yawned loudly. After tucking Maya in, he quickly took a bath and stopped by the nearest coffee shop that was open. He ordered for a piece of muffin and some tea and ate it as he drove to work. Even though he knew that coffee will make him awake, he tried to avoid it for the mean time. Too much coffee was not really good for his health.
“Yeah, he’s already here. Excited ata dun sa house plan.” James replied. “Listen, Richard. If you’re really tired, you can go home. Ako nang bahala sa presentation –“
“No, no. Ako na. It’s my work after all.” Richard interrupted as he yawned. He blinked his eyes that were getting blurry. He was really tired and exhausted yet he doesn’t have any sleep. He turned and was about to leave when he bumped into the wall of James’ office. He shook his head to brush the pain off as his friend assisted him to sit on the chair in front of his table.
“Richard! You’re obviously not fit to work today. Umupo ka nga muna.” James exclaimed. “Ano bang nangyari sa’yo? Nakainom ka ba? Do you want Liza to get you some coffee?” He continued to ask.
Richard frantically shook his head. “I’m fine, I’m fine.” He muttered. “And no coffee please. Ang dami ko nang nainom na kape, baka kung ano … ano nang .. mangyari .. sa’kin ..” He trailed off as his own eyes closed, lulling him to sleep.
“Hey bro! Are you asleep?” James asked and he knew he was right when Richard failed to reply. “Gising! Hey Richard! You still have a meeting!” He exclaimed. Richard bolted awake and quickly stood up from his seat.
“Umpisa na ba? Am I late?” Richard asked and cursed under his breath. “C’mon. Wag muna kayong pumikit.” He muttered. “Sige na James. I have to go para matapos na ‘to.” He said.
James nodded. “Alright. And Richard, you can go home after this if you want to.”
“Thank you.” Richard simply replied as he hit the very same wall he hit earlier. James rushed to his side and guided Richard through his doors. He was trying so hard to prevent himself from laughing. Richard has been acting weird. It worries him but sometimes, it’s just fun to watch your composed friend so disoriented. James decided to go to the meeting room where Richard’s presentation will be. He was afraid that Richard would go all clumsy like he was in his office.
When James entered the meeting room, he saw Richard already laying out the papers on the table. He was explaining them like normal Richard would do. Gone was the disoriented friend of his and the serious Richard was back. It’s like nothing happened to Richard as he presented his plans. James noticed him spacing out a bit but he would still answer the questions wisely and would even elaborate everything even if the client didn’t ask.
An hour of discussion passed and in the end, Richard had the deal. Mr. Rivera seemed really happy about the plan for his house. James just watched Richard as he shook hands with his client. He really admires his friend. At first, he was the one who couldn’t stop talking about architecture yet somehow Richard surpassed him.
After James shook his hands with the client, he turned to look back at Richard who’s sitting on the far end of the table with both of his hands on top of it while his head was bowed. The floor plan of the house was under his hands. “Grabe Richard. Akala ko hindi maganda yung pakiramdam mo pero you still got the deal!” James proudly said. “Now that it’s all over, care to tell me what happened to you?” He asked but Richard remained at his position. “Hey bro. Akala ko magkukwento ka?” He continued and shook Richard’s shoulder.
James was surprised when Richard collapsed from the simple shook of his shoulder. His head fell on the table with his body slumped on the chair. “Richard? Richard!” James worriedly said. He kept shaking Richard’s shoulder to the point that his whole body shook with him. “Shit! Richard! That’s it I’m calling the hospi –“
“Stop shaking me, James” Richard muttered. He slowly opened his eyes, moving it around before it settled on his friend. “Stop it. Nakakahilo.”
“A-are you okay? Stay here, I’ll tell Liza to call the hospital.” James said. He was panicking. It was the first time he’d seen Richard like this. He was about to sprint outside when Richard stopped him.
“No James. Ayos lang ako.” He said as he straightened up from his chair and blinked a few times to prevent them front closing again. “Wala akong tulog.”
“What?” James asked. He sat on the chair close to Richard. “What do you mean by wala kang tulog?”
Richard nodded with his eyes closed. “Wala akong tulog. Si Maya .. she .. she spilled coffee on .. on my work. I had to .. to stay awake … to finish everything again.” He said as his head started falling again.
“You were awake for 24 hours? What the hell Richard? Nag-drugs ka ba?” James exclaimed. “And who spilled coffee on your work? Si Maya? Who is she?”
“I .. I .. rescued .. . . “ Richard trailed off and fell asleep again right in front of his friend. James just sighed and shook Richard by his shoulder again. “C’mon bro. Ihahatid na muna kita pabalik sa condo mo. You need to rest.”
Richard nodded but didn’t make any move to stand up. James called some of the other architects to help him carry Richard to his car. Liza was behind them as she brought Richard’s things. Once settled in, James went to the driver’s seat and drove off.
After half an hour, he arrived outside Richard’s condo building. This time, Richard fought the sandman and managed to stay awake until they are outside his condo unit. He fumbled for his keys and when he successfully opened the door, he immediately fell on his couch and dozed off.
James just chuckled. He was about to leave when he heard some sounds coming from the kitchen. His brows knitted as he heard the sound again even though he thought that it was just coming from his head. He carefully walked to Richard’s kitchen and was surprised when he saw a woman with a bandage on her arm, stirring something in a cup.
“Sino ka?” James asked. The woman jumped and her eyes widened when she saw him. She reached for a pan and pointed it at him. “Ikaw? Sino ka? At anong ginagawa mo dito? Paano ka nakapasok? Sumagot ka!” She bombarded as she took a step closer to him. James raised both of his hands as he took a step backward. “Sasagot ka ba o tatawag ako ng security?” She continued.
“Anong tatawag ng security? Ako nga dapat ang nagsasabi niyan eh!” James exclaimed. “Anong ginagawa mo sa condo unit ni Richard? Trespassing ‘to, idedemanda kita!”
“Anong trespassing? FYI mamang stranger! Simula kagabi, dito na ko nakatira! Itanong mo pa kay Richard!” She exclaimed.
James threw her his narrowed eyes. “Fine! Tanungin natin si Richard nang malaman natin kung sino sa’ting dalawa ang trespassing.” He said and walked to the couch where Richard was peacefully sleeping. He heard a gasp coming from her when she got a clear view of his friend. “Bro, tell this … this woman na kilala mo ako.” James said to Richard.
Richard’s eyes opened and looked at James. “He’s my friend. James Ventura.” Richard muttered. James brows rose at Maya giving her that ‘I told you’ look. The woman on the other hand went beside Richard and put a hand on his head. “Richard, gusto mo ng kape?” She asked.
Richard grunted. “No. No more coffee. Nasobrahan na ko sa kape mo kagabi, Maya.” Richard continued to mutter. James brows knitted. “Ikaw si Maya?” He asked.
Maya nodded. “Oo. Bakit? Sino ka ba?”
James sighed. Richard really has a long story to tell. He decided to sit on the floor as Maya continued to glare at him. “I’m James. She mentioned you earlier kaso hindi ko na natanong kung sino ka kasi tinulugan na ko. I’ve known Richard since we were college students and he happens to work for me.”
“Ikaw yung may-ari ng Aero Designs?” Maya asked. James answered her by nodding. “Yeah. How do you know?”
“Richard mentioned it yesterday.” She simply answered. “Sorry ha. Ang rude ko pala sa kaibigan ni Richard.”
“It’s okay. I’m sorry too.” James replied. “Anyway, who are you? Don’t get me wrong but Richard doesn’t really take women inside his condo unit. Pero ang sabi mo kanina, dito ka na nakatira.”
Maya nodded with a smile on her face. “Oo. Naaksidente kasi ako nung Linggo. Richard saved me tapos dinala niya ako sa ospital. Hindi ako makauwi kasi nagka-amnesia ako kaya dito muna ako pinatuloy ni Richard. Basta, tanungin mo na lang siya para sa buong kwento.” She said. “Teka, bakit nga pala nandito ‘to? Akala ko pumasok siya?”
“Yep. Right after his meeting, nakatulog siya.” James answered as he shook his head in amusement. “Ang sabi niya wala siyang tulog. Do you know why?”
Maya tried to be unaffected but she immediately buried her face in her hands. “Natapunan ko kasi ng kape yung ginagawa niyang trabaho kagabi. Ayun, umulit siya sa simula. Sorry!” She said in one breath.
James gaped at her. He was expecting to feel mad on how this woman ruined his friends’ work but he couldn’t help it and he started laughing. “I bet Richard was really mad at you. Ang hirap kayang umulit sa umpisa!”
“Ehh. Sorry na nga eh. Saka nakabawi naman ako sa kanya. Well, sana.” Maya said. James finally stopped laughing and let out a deep breath. “Alright. Sa susunod kasi, wag mong gagawin ‘yon kay Richard. He really hates it when his clients get disappointed. Ayaw niya yung uuwi sila ng walang ngiti sa mukha.” He said.
“Ah, James. Hindi naman sa nang-aano ako pero alam mo ba kung bakit sa condo lang nakatira si Richard? Tinanong ko kasi siya kagabi kaso hindi naman niya sinagot.” Maya asked.
James shrugged. “I don’t really know the exact reason but I think it has something to do when his mom died.”
“Namatay yung nanay niya?”
James nodded. “Yep. Hindi pa kami magkakilala nun kasi 4th year high school pa lang kami non. Nalaman ko na lang nung nagkakilala kami nung college. Richard’s a really private person kaya I don’t know if his mom’s death was really the reason. Maybe you should just ask him.”
Maya’s heart went out for Richard. A piece of puzzle was a little bit resolved. She remembered that Richard told her that he had a painful experience on death and with what James said, she knew it was because of his mother.
“Maya, can you assist me? Dalhin na natin si Richard sa kwarto niya para makatulog siya ng maayos.” James suggested. After a few pulls, they finally settled Richard on his bed. Maya’s eyes roamed around his room. It was slightly bigger than the room she was staying at. She also noticed that a picture was standing at the bedside table. It was a picture of a small boy smiling with his mom behind him. The boy got those chinky eyes that Richard has while the mother hugged him so tight in front of her.
“Uuna na ko, Maya. Babalik pa ko sa trabaho eh.” James said, pulling Maya back from her thoughts. “Ikaw na bahala kay Richard. Take care of him for me.”
Maya nodded. “Sige. I’ll tell him that you brought him here. Ingat sa byahe!”
“I’ll lock the front door. Dito ka na. Bye.” James said and made his way out of Richard’s room. Maya sat on the edge of Richard’s bed as she felt her leg going weak. She carefully lifted her hand and slowly took Richard’s eyeglasses off. She smiled at him when she successfully took it off. She brought her hand back on his cheek.
“Matulog ka ng mahimbig, Richard. You deserve it.” She whispered. She was about to stand up when she felt a hand holding hers. Maya tried to pull it but Richard only held it tighter. “Richard, bitiwan mo yung kamay ko.” Maya said and stood up. Richard pulled her back and she landed flat on Richard’s chest. Richard shifted a bit and Maya fell beside him. She was about to get up when Richard’s hand sneaked around her waist, pulling her even closer to him.
“R-Richard?” Maya whispered.
“Stay please.” Richard muttered. When Maya attempted to remove his hold, Richard’s arm just tightened. Maya was about to protest when Richard started snoring softly. Maya just sighed and decided to make no more movements. After all, she still owes Richard from spilling coffee last night. After letting go of another deep sigh, her eyes decided to close. She too didn’t get enough sleep. Without making any more arguments with herself, she let her thoughts disappear and joined Richard in his sleep.