“You have the camera with you?” Richard asked as he took a glance at Maya who was sitting on the passenger’s seat. They’re on their way to the architecture firm since it’s been a part of Maya’s punishment for Richard. At first, Richard thought that Maya was just kidding about coming to work with him but he was actually surprised when Maya was already awake when he got up. It seems like she is excited to come with him.
Maya nodded her head. “Nasa bag ko.” She answered. It was still early and Maya kept looking outside the window. The sky was now alive because the sun already rose. Even if buildings interrupted her sightseeing, Maya didn’t mind. There’s nothing that can stop her from admiring such a lovely morning.
The car came to a halt as the stoplight turned red. Maya quickly pulled the camera from her bag and took a photo of the scenery they stopped at. Almost instantly after she pressed the button, the printed picture came out from the camera. Maya blew on it to dry it quickly and as she did all of that, Richard was just watching her.
Maya immediately smiled when she saw how the photo turned out. It was exactly what her eyes saw. She was still holding it while she returned the camera back in her bag. “May I see it?” Richard asked, bringing Maya back from her thoughts. She nodded happily and gave Richard the photo.
Richard thought that it would be a mistake for Maya to be taking a picture out in a busy road like this. But what he saw proved him wrong. In the little piece of photo, a tall building was on the right side while the sun’s orange rays seeking behind it. The skies were blue on top and below, there were two figures. It was a little bit dark on that part but Richard could distinguish that it was a scene where a mother is kissing her son goodbye since he’s off to school. Everything in the photo has a story to tell. It was the first time she saw the photo she took and he couldn’t help but admire it.
“Wow.” Richard said. It was the only word he can utter after seeing the photo. When the light turned green, he kept the photo in his hand as he started driving again. “This is a beautiful photo, Maya.” He said.
“Thank you.” Maya simply said as she reached for the photo in his hand. “Ang ganda nga no?” She said as she stared at the photo she held in her hands.
Richard nodded. “I’m starting to think na hindi ka drug dealer. Maybe you’re really a photographer.”
Maya chuckled. “Hindi nga kasi ako drug dealer eh! Wala namang masamang nangyari sa’yo nung kumain ka kagabi.” She defended, making Richard laugh. “Siguro. Siguro nga photographer ako. Hindi ko rin alam eh.” She said. She felt sad because of it. It’s been days since her accident but none of her memories seem to come back, except for her birthday. Not even her surname, which would help her a lot.
“Maybe you taking photos will remind you what your life was like before.” Richard said. He took a glance at her and saw that her face is sad. He knew that it’s because she’s trying to recover her memories but she can’t because of her amnesia. “Maya, did you capture the mother-son scene by accident? The one below the building?” He asked, trying to change their subject.
Almost immediately, Maya smiled again. She shook her head. “Yung scenery lang dapat talaga yung kukuhanan ko tapos nakita ko silang dalawa dun sa baba. Hinintay ko lang yung right moment ng pagpapaalam nung bata tapos kinuhanan ko na.” She explained.
Richard smiled. “Nah, fluke yan.” He teased. Maya hit him lightly on his arm. “Oy, hindi ‘no. Nakita ko talaga siya.”
“Fine. Well, I think you have a talent for capturing things not everybody can see through their eyes. The photo of yours is really worth a thousand words.” He said.
Maya smiled foolishly. It was the first time that Richard complimented her. Even if it’s on her work, it feels something more, something extra. “Thank you.” She simply said, afraid that the blush on her cheeks would deepen. “Ikaw din naman ah. With your house designs.”
Richard gave her a small smile. “Mine’s different. The houses I drew are for those families who decided to start a happy home together. I draw them because .. because it’s something I wished we had.”
Maya felt the urge to comfort Richard right at that moment. She might’ve seen Richard angry but she had never seen him so sad like this. Since they’ve met, this is the first time that Richard told her something about what his family is like.
She suddenly envisioned Richard as a little boy with those little chinky-eyes of his and those chubby cheeks running around their house, looking for someone to play with. But no one went out to play. She suddenly wondered what his mom was like, or even his dad. Besides Luke, does he have any other siblings? What he was like when he was still a child? And what really happened that made him like this now?
Maya was about to ask him something but Richard beat her to it. “How come you only take photos of things? As I remember, last night, kinuhanan mo rin ng picture yung kandilang sinindihan mo sa living room. I honestly thought that you’re first photo will be yourself.” He said.
Maya stared at Richard first before she answered. She can see that he’s trying so hard to change the topic. His face is even telling her that he’s feeling uncomfortable in talking about his family. “Mas maganda kasing kuhanan ang landscape, maraming kwento sa sideline. Hindi katulad ng pag tao, na kapag kinuhanan mo, pwedeng hindi yun yung totoo nilang ngiti. There’s a deeper meaning behind it or they’re trying to hide something. Pag landscape, kapag kinuhanan mo, yun na yun. You’re already seeing the story behind it.” She explained.
Richard nodded, perfectly understanding what she meant. He can clearly see himself as that particular person that Maya was saying. There’s always something that he’s trying to hide between his smiles. Something that he doesn’t want anyone to be involved with.
When they got to Aero Designs, the day passed by like a breeze. Richard gave his schedules to Maya and told her that she must inform him about his calls, his documents, and his meetings, everything that is related about work within the day. Maya thought Richard was just doing a light job whenever he’s at work, like he’ll just be sketching the whole day but it really was not. Richard’s pretty much booked up for the day. He’s got meetings one after the other, leaving him a very little time to have lunch. She was trying to sort everything out so that Richard could get at least an hour of lunch but she can’t manoeuvre everything. Richard’s tight schedule can just provide him half an hour.
It was lunch time and Maya was feeling very famished. They’re still under a meeting with one of the suppliers. Maya kept drinking glasses of water just to fill her stomach and Richard noticed it. He excused himself to them for a minute and brought Maya back to his office. He told her that she should go eat lunch but Maya doesn’t want to because Richard would be alone in the meeting. Good thing James arrived and Richard asked him if he can take Maya with her for lunch. Maya was left without a choice but to go with James.
“So I guess may something serious na nangyayari sa inyo ni Richard.” James said as they waited for their food to arrive. Maya was silent the whole car ride. She was simply worried about Richard. It wasn’t really part of her job to worry but she couldn’t help it. He was working really hard yet he doesn’t have any reason or anyone to do it for. He was doing it all for his self.
“Pwede ba nating i-order si Richard ng pagkain dito? Hindi pa yun nakain eh. Masama yung nagpapagutom ‘di ba?” Maya said, completely ignoring what James said. James just laughed at Maya. “Hindi na pala guess. Definitely, there’s something going on with the two of you.” He said.
“Ha?” Maya reacted. “W-Wala James. Tinutulungan lang talaga ako ni Richard.” She defended.
“Really?” James reacted back. “Well, after knowing Richard through the years, I knew for a fact that he doesn’t let anyone sleep inside his condo, besides Luke. Kahit nga ako ayaw niyang patulugin dun eh! And then he bought you clothes, gave you his phone and he even bought a camera for you. Eh si Luke nga hindi niya mabilhan ng phone. What do you call that, Maya?” James asked, grinning teasingly at her.
“Uhm, kindness?” Maya answered. “Look, Richard is just helping me. Walang mali dun, nilalagyan mo kasi ng malisya eh.”
James chuckled. “You know, if I were on Richard’s shoes, I wouldn’t just buy things for someone without a reason. Masyadong out of league yung mga binili niya kung grateful siya and if he’s really helping you, sapat na siguro kung papatirahin kita sa condo ko.” He stated. “Believe me, Maya. He’s more than helping you.”
Maya flushed. She doesn’t know what to say. Would it be possible if Richard would reciprocate the developing feelings she’s having for him? Would it be totally wrong if she mistook the feelings of gratitude to love?
As Maya was busy in her thoughts, the waiter arrived, carrying two paper bags. James thanked him and after paying the bill, he stood up. “Let’s go, Maya. Sa firm na tayo kumain. Ayaw mong magutom si Richard di ba?” He said.
James and Maya entered the meeting room and as James expected, the meeting Richard was in just finished and Richard was sitting at the end of the table, reading the contracts Maya left on his table. “He’s always like that.” James whispered to Maya. “Richard!” He called. “We brought food!”
“I’m not hungry.” Richard muttered as he signed one of the contracts. James put the paper bags on the table and started reaching for the food inside it. “We ordered Chinese. Chinese ka ‘di ba Lim?”
Richard smirked. “Stop mocking me with my Chinese blood, James. You and I both know that I don’t really like that side of me.” He said.
Maya just watched the two of them but she was still bewildered about Richard. He’s been dropping hints on what could’ve happened but it wasn’t enough for Maya to get a good look at the whole picture. “I’m not really hungry, James.” Richard said.
“Don’t worry. Hindi pa rin kami nakain ni Maya.” James said as he sat beside him. Richard’s head rose up to Maya. “Hindi ka pa nakain?” He worriedly asked. Maya also saw James’ head shot to her, with his brows cocked up, teasing her.
“Dito na raw kami kumain eh.” She simply answered. Richard groaned and reached for Maya’s hand. He ushered her in the chair opposite of James and took one of the dishes they bought and placed it in front of her. “Kumain ka na.”
James was just smiling at them as he watched. He has never seen this side of Richard. He knew that his friend is smitten about the lady in front of him, though he doesn’t realize it yet. Richard went back to his seat and continued reading as James munched on his food. “Richard, hindi ka kakain?” Maya asked.
Richard shook his head. “Nope. I’m busy.”
Maya nodded. “Pwes, hindi rin ako kakain kung hindi ka kakain.”
“What? Masasayang yung pagkain.” Richard said. “Kumain ka na.”
“I don’t mind eating all of this. Kaya ko.” James said, obviously enjoying watching their argument.
“O, kaya raw ni James.” Maya said.
Richard rolled his eyes. “Fine, I’ll eat. Happy now?”
Maya made a single clap. “Oo! Kasi kakain na ko. Kanina pa kaya ako gutom.” She said and reached for one dish and put it in front of Richard. “Kain na.”
As they eat, James remained silent as Richard and Maya talked. He’s now sure that Maya has feelings for Richard but his friend remains clueless of his feelings. James has a feeling that he’s holding back because of his past. He made it clear to him that he doesn’t want him to be involved, that’s why he never really told him the story. James knew that if Richard opened up to Maya, that’ll be the start of something new for the both of them.
Richard and Maya were both exhausted when they got home, especially Maya. Even though she was just Richard’s secretary, she was too mentally exhausted from all of the work. Richard on the other hand, looks, well, looks like his ordinary self. He was used to the exhaustion and somehow immune to stress. Both of them decided to call it a day when the doorbell rang. Maya volunteered to open the door and when she opened it, she saw a boy standing behind it.
“Uhm, where’s Kuya Richard po?” The boy asked. Maya immediately recognized him as Luke. He has those chinky eyes of Richard too and she was sure that he’s the kid Richard’s with at the photo inside her room.
“You’re Luke, right?” Maya asked. The boy nodded. “Pasok ka muna, nasa loob si Richard.” She said and the boy entered.
It seemed like Luke already knew where Richard is and he went straight to Richard’s workplace. “Maya, would you mind if you bring coffee here?” Richard said and when he looked up, he saw that it was Luke. “O Luke, what are you doing here?”
“Can I sleep here Kuya?” He asked.
“Is Dad mad at you?” Richard asked. Luke shook his head. “You didn’t respond to my text. I already told Dad that I’ll be sleeping here.” He said. “He misses you, Kuya.”
“Seriously Luke? Naniwala ka sa kanya? Well if you do, please tell him that I don’t.” He said. Luke didn’t flinch. It was perfectly normal to hear those words coming from his big brother. “Anyway, you can sleep in my room. Your room is occupied.”
“What? No, Kuya, I refuse. Minsan na nga lang ako matutulog dito eh. I miss my bed here. Who’s occupying it anyway?” Luke asked.
“Si Maya. The one who opened the door.” He replied.
“I see. Girlfriend mo Kuya?” Luke asked. He stepped further inside Richard’s workplace in attempt to ask him more about Maya. “I thought we had an agreement na ipapakilala mo sa’kin yung mga girlfriend mo –“
“Hey hey, step back.” Richard warned. “It’s my rule. No one steps inside here.”
Luke raised both of his hands in defeat. “Fine fine. No need to be grouchy.” He said. “I still insist na sa kwarto ko ako matutulog. Tabi na lang kayo ni Ate Maya sa kwarto mo since she’s your girlfriend.”
“She’s not my girlfriend.” Richard said. “Really? How come she’s staying here? As far as I know, ako lang ang pinapatulog mo dito Kuya.” Luke said.
Richard sighed. “She’s just a friend.” He simply said. Right after he said that, he questioned his self. Just a friend? Or there’s something more? He was aware of the foreign feelings he’s experiencing when he’s with Maya. I’m just grateful. But grateful for what?
As he was having those thoughts, Maya came, holding a cup of coffee. She walked passed through Luke and entered his workplace, putting the cup of coffee carefully on his table. “Kape mo.” She said.
Richard smiled at her. “Thank you.”
Luke gaped at what he just saw. He attempted to step inside Richard’s workplace but Richard noticed him immediately. “Luke, bawal nga di ba?”Richard said.
“Eh bakit si Ate Maya pinapapasok mo?” He amusedly asked. Richard could feel the blood from his head drain. For the first time, he was lost for words. “Well .. she .. she brought coffee, and … and it would be inconvenient kung .. kung tatayo pa ko para .. para abutin.” He stammered.
Luke smiled meaningfully at them as he nodded slowly. “Friend pala Kuya.” He said. “I’ll be in my room. Goodnight Kuya. Goodnight Ate Maya and it’s nice to meet my Kuya’s girlfriend.” He said and left the two of them.
Maya swallowed the lump in her throat. Girlfriend? She suddenly wondered why Luke accused her of that. Did Richard introduce her like that? She looked at Richard to find that he, too, was somehow affected by what his little brother said. He was completely still, as if he just froze.
“Uhm, don’t mind him. He’s still a kid.” He simply said. Maya nodded and walked to leave Richard’s workplace when he called her. “Maya.” He said.
Maya turned around and saw Richard looking at her intently. “I .. I guess you’ll be sleeping in my room tonight.” He said.
Maya’s eyes widened. Her heart started thumping fast. “H-Ha?”
Richard swallowed hard. “Gawa ni Luke. He’ll be sleeping in his room. He’s claiming it back. So .. dun ka muna sa kwarto ko matulog.” He said. “D-don’t worry though, sa sahig na lang ako.”
Maya nodded. “S-sige.” She answered. She can still feel her heart thumping loudly. They’re going to be sleeping together for the first time. Together, even if she’ll be on the bed while Richard will be on the floor. For the first time, she knew that it’ll be the first time that she’ll be sleeping with her crush near her. It’s all inconvenient but as what Jerry told her, the odds are forever in their favour.
A/N : Ang aga ng 9. Thank you for keeping me inspired by your comments!! Labya readers 🙂