It felt so surreal that Richard is holding me near, as we swayed together in a prom where we don’t even belong. I don’t know what caused his sudden change of mood but I’m glad that he did. I hesitated earlier and made my work as an excuse but he simply gave the camera to Emman just to let me dance with him. He made it all effortless, like lifting a pen.
Everything’s right, that’s what he said earlier and I can certainly feel that it is indeed what could best describe this moment. We didn’t let anyone bother us even if I can see the flash of Emman’s camera from my peripheral vision. There are a couple of inches that separates us but it didn’t prevent me from looking at his eyes. There’s just something so honest in them and all of the sudden, I didn’t want this moment to seize.
“You look beautiful tonight, Maya.” He whispered and since our faces are close, I heard every word of it. The familiar heat emerged from my cheeks.
“Thank you. You don’t look bad yourself, Mr. Lim.” I said, trying to prevent the huge smile on my lips.
He chuckled. “I thought we passed that Mr. Lim thing. Mr. Lim is my father. Are you hallucinating? Akala mo ba ako si Papa?” He asked with a smile on his face.
I softly laughed. He can be really full of wit sometimes. “Ang corny mo, Richard.” I replied, making him smile. “Magaling ka palang sumayaw, ano?” I paid him a compliment.
His brows went high. “Really?” He
asked, like he cannot believe what I just said. “Well, you should see me doing hiphop, or even ballet. I’m best at break dancing though. But it literally means break dancing. I could break a bone or sprain an ankle if ever I do that.” He continued to joke and I just laughed.
“Ang kulit mo eh! Ano bang nakain mo?” I said.
He shrugged. “Luke fed me with a bucket of realizations. He can really get in my head sometimes. Minsan nga iniisip ko kung sino ‘yung matanda sa’min. He gives a lot of advice when it comes to life while I give advice if he needs to pick a tux for prom or what to do on a first date.”
“Mas maganda atang genes ang nasalin kay Luke eh.” I said.
“Maybe.” Richard said. “His mother is my father’s sister anyway. And she’s really great at giving advices. I remember when I was ten, I only got into Top 10 and I thought my parents will be mad at me but instead she just said that I should still tell them. She said that Papa will understand, because I’m his son.”
I nodded as Richard told the story but something in it caught my attention. “Hindi kayo pareho ng Nanay ni Luke?”
Richard shook his head. “No. Luke is more of my cousin. His father left them when Luke was born. Then his mother died young and Papa promised to take care of Luke for her. He was eight when Papa adopted him. He has been my little brother ever since.”
“Ahh. Pero alam mo, hindi halata. Sobrang close niyo kasi eh. Nakita ko kasi kayong nag-uusap kanina. Saka pareho kayong singkit kaya hindi kadudaduda.” I commented.
“It runs in the family. Chinese kasi. Enough about me, let’s talk about you.” Richard said and I just nodded.
“Napansin ko lang, kayo lang ba ni Cris ang nasa bahay? Where are your parents?”
“Ahh. Well, to be honest, matagal na naming kinalimutan na may Nanay at Tatay kami ni Kute. Si Tatay kasi, bata pa lang kami nung iniwan kami. Nangibang-bahay. Natukso eh. Tapos si Nanay naman, nagtrabaho sa ibang bansa kasi kulang kami sa pang-aral ni Kute. Ang plano niya after two years, babalik na siya sa Pilipinas. Kaso yung two years, naging three, naging four, naging five, hindi pa rin umuwi si Nanay. ‘Yun pala, nagpakasal na sa foreigner niyang naging kaibigan do’n.” I explained, trying to keep a small smile on my face. I don’t really want to cry in front of him. Not now that we’re having such a good time.
A sly smile flew on his lips. “You are so brave, you know that?” He said. “Hindi lang ikaw, pati si Cris. Alam mo bang sinigawan din ako nun nung pumunta ako sa bahay niyo nung tumawag ka? Kung hindi ko sinabing tumawag ka, baka nabugbog ako nun.” He said and I know he’s just trying to make me feel better, and it really works. I don’t know but maybe he really got that magic in me. “There. Alam mo bang you have a beautiful smile? It’s like when you smile, everyone around you smiles as well.”
I blushed again. How come his words have this kind of effect on me? “Alam mo Richard, habang tumatagal, lalo ka lang nagiging bolero.” I just said.
“Well, it’s either that or I’m just telling the truth.” He said. “And I do think it’s the latter.”
I bowed my head a bit to hide the now reddened cheeks of mine. We continued to dance until Richard shifted his other hand on my waist and I don’t have any choice but to put my hands on his chest. I don’t know how but for some reason, I think we’re closer now than earlier. I looked up and saw his eyes, with his lips curved into a smile as he looked down at me.
“Maya, do you think .. you’re already over Simon?” He softly asked out of the blue.
I fell silent before I answer. This time, I want to be sure. An image of him popped in my head and I couldn’t feel any love in him. All I could feel is hatred, anger, mad and a broken friendship. I’m never bitter about our situation. It’s already a good thing that I caught him in the act and not suffer for another year or so with him not truly loving me back. So I nodded my head. “It may be a short period of time but yes, I’m already over him.”
It’s like relief flooded Richard because of the full smile that he gave me. “Well, that’s good to hear.” He muttered. We continued to dance in silence and the song is now reaching its end. “Maya, would it be okay if someone wants to court you now?”
My brows furrowed. “Agad-agad? Sino ba siya?” I asked as the band played the few chords leading to its end. Richard looked like he was getting uncomfortable and it took me a couple more seconds before I finally realized what’s happening. “Manliligaw ka?” I softly asked.
The audience around us started clapping their hands as the song ended while Richard looked at me directly into my eyes and nodded. “Yes.” He replied.
I quickly got away from his hold and almost sprinted away from him even if I could hear him calling me. I saw Emman near the stage and grabbed my camera that was placed on his neck. I started working again. God, I’m so furious. What is this like to him? A gamble? Yes, I moved on, but did he? No. It’s a big no. He can’t start loving someone like me but still love the woman who left him.
I felt someone stood beside me and reached for my hand. “Maya, let’s talk –“
“Iwanan mo ko. I don’t want to talk.” I interrupted.
“Maya, please –“
“I said I don’t want to talk!” I hissed. I moved along until I reached Ruby’s side. I started taking photos again but because of my mood, they all turn out blurred and not good enough. See Richard? What a way to damage my work!
“O Maya, bakit parang umuusok ang ilong natin? Anong nangyari?” She concernedly asked. I just glared at her and I knew she already got my answer. “Meron ka no?” She asked. I groaned the answer I thought she got was different.
“Eh ano ngayon kung meron ako?” I almost yelled, good thing that two teachers walked pass us.
“PMS ‘yan Maya. Kumalma ka lang kasi. Pinapainit mo masyado ulo mo eh. Tignan mo, kapag nagising ka bukas, mare-realize mo na lang na para ka palang ewan ngayon.” Ruby explained. “Saka ‘di ba sabi nila, never make any decision when you’re angry. Mamaya may namamali ka nang desisyon niyan.” She continued. “Kyle!” She called out and turned back to me. “Maya, pupuntahan ko muna ‘yon. Kung kailangan mo, may extra ako sa bag. Baka umagos na ‘yan sa sobrang galit mo.” She joked and quickly left.
I leaned back on the pillar beside me and took a deep sigh. It might really be my PMS kicking. I scanned the room to look for Richard’s face but I couldn’t see him anywhere. Great. I scared him off.
The night continued and would soon come to an end but Richard is still out of sight. The students are now starting to leave as my crew and I started to pack. As I was putting my camera in its bag, someone stood behind me.
“Ate Maya?” A voice called my name. I lifted my head and saw the pair of chinky eyes I was staring at earlier.
“Uhm, Luke right? Na-naikwento ka ng Kuya mo sa’kin kanina.” I softly said. My voice sounds like I just lost something important. Luke just smiled at me and nodded his head. “Follow me.” He said and started walking.
He’s really a strange boy. I glanced at Emman and told them to wait for me as I followed Luke as we went to the parking lot. Luke really looks a lot like Richard and no one could really mistaken him for being just his cousin.
Luke stopped on the window of a grey BMW and knocked on it. I stopped a few feet before him. The window rolled down and Richard’s face came into view. “It’s already over?” He asked, his face so lonely.
Instead of answering, Luke reached inside Richard’s door and opened it. “Hey, hey, I told you. You can’t drive my car.” Richard said.
“It’s not that Kuya.” Luke said and nodded at me. “Look.”
Richard went still like he just saw a ghost. Luke opened the back door and brought himself in. “I’ll be listening to my songs so if you’re going to yell at each other, it’ll be fine. And Kuya, it’s already late kaya kung pwede keep it short.” He said before he shut the door.
Richard uneasily got out from his car and shut its door. He tucked his hands in his pockets and hesitatingly walked until we’re about a meter away. “I told you. Luke is .. he’s really good at these.” He said, trying to put a smile on his face.
I politely nodded. “Oo nga.” I answered.
Richard took out his right hand and scratched his nape while I bit my lip looked at my right. The air of awkwardness breezing between us. I took a deep breath and decided to shoo it away.
“Richard – “ We both called each other at the same time. “S-Sige mauna ka na.” I said.
He nodded and took another deep breath. “Maya, what went wrong? Was it something I said? Did I … shock you?” He asked. “I told you that the moment is right. And it is. I thought .. no, I assumed you would say yes, that it’s okay with you but you ran off. What went wrong? Please, let me explain.” He said.
I looked at his pleading eyes and heaved a deep breath. “Richard, hindi pwede. In love ka pa kay Sunshine –“
“No. I’m telling you now. I’m not. I moved on. I spent the past days with you because I’m starting to feel this something for you and I know that if I just let you pass, I’ll regret it for the rest of my life.” He interrupted, making me clutch my hands near my heart. “Sunshine will always have a place in my heart just like Simon to you even if he betrayed you. But right now, all I want is for me to fill the other spaces in your heart, just like you filled mine.”
Words aren’t enough to describe what I’m feeling right now. Finally, Richard is now falling again. And the best part of it is that he’s falling for me. My heart is suddenly filled with gladness that I never felt when I was with Simon. Without thinking twice, I nodded my head. “O-Okay.” I uttered.
Richard looked curiously at me with a glint of smile on his face. “Is that a yes? You’re allowing me to court you?” He asked.
I nodded my head again, completely speechless. In less than a few seconds, Richard is already in front of me and then he engulfed me in a hug. “I promise to show you how Richard Lim loves.” He muttered in my ear. “I still want to make this moment longer but I have to take Luke home. I’ll call you later. You’ll be fine here. I can already see Emman loading your van.” He said and grabbed my shoulders to turn me around. Sure enough, Emman was watching us, three cars down, with a huge smile on his face.
“Hi Mr. Lim!” Emman shouted.
“Take care of Maya for me. I need to go home.” Richard yelled back.
“Of course Mr. Lim! We’ll handle Maya with care. Pati na rin love from you.” He said and chuckled, including Richard.
I felt Richard’s arms sneaking at my waist, hugging me from behind. I turned my head to look at him and almost pulled back when I almost kissed him because of the nearness of our face. “I’ll see you later.” He whispered, and left a lingering kiss on my temple. He removed his arms and rode his car.
I watched him as he drove away and when he’s already out of the parking lot. I found myself smiling. Richard Lim is courting me.
A/N : pasensya na po sa mahabang loa! Busy lang po. Happy feast day Our Lady of Fatima!