This Time- Chapter 5: Beautiful Nightmare

Chapter 5: Beautiful Nightmare

~
The whole week had passed like a normal week. Sure, Rafi and Maya called each other every now and then but it is not really about their wedding but more on Maya and Richard’s love story. All week Rafi wanted an update of Maya’s love life like she’s the president of their loveteam. Maya usually made up some stories and then she realizes, she can really try writing a love story. She thinks she is indeed good at it.

The girls had agreed that they will just enjoy them being single for a while until this dinner with Maya’s mother. After Maya finally announces her and Richard’s plan of getting married, she and Rafi will move on with their wedding plans.

At first, it didn’t bother her telling her mother. She is a great mom and she can understand this nonsense once she tell her everything soon. But at the moment she’s having second thoughts. Her mom will definitely hate her after this. However, she will still do this. There’s no turning back now and whatever consequences awaits her, she will face it.

Teresita was beyond surprised when Maya blurted the news to her. Maya can tell from her mother’s reaction that Teresita was confused. Then Maya remembered whoever Richard’s been delivering those flowers to. So she made up another story saying that they fell in love after she apologized to him because of the incident in the flower shop and that Richard already stopped sending flowers to someone. At this point, she wanted to ask her mother who was the girl(whoever that was) but decided against it. Richard still deserves his privacy and that’s all she can give him considering these troubles she brought him.

Good thing that Maya checked the customer’s orders and noticed that Richard did already stopped sending flowers to someone. She once texted him about this but Richard only told her that he had enough. She tried to ask some more but he doesn’t want to talk about it so she didn’t dig deeper. She’s just happy that he did. It’s for her own good, for her plan.

After a long conversation with her mother, she finally saw her mother’s eyes lit up. Like she’s happy that it is Richard whom she chose to love forever. As if she’s the luckiest girl in the world. That reaction made her guiltier but she quickly brush it off. Emotions shouldn’t be felt at the moment. Everything should be perfect.
~~~~

“Richaaaard!!” Teresita greeted Richard with open arms once the gate opened for him.

Richard is wearing a baby blue long sleeve and black slacks. He came directly from his meeting in Makati but he still look strikingly handsome.

“Nay Tere!” Richard embraced her back. He did greeted Maya’s mother first as if he’s happier that he saw Maya’s mother more than he was glad because Maya is also there.

“Kamusta ka naman? Alam mo ba na nag-alala ako nung tumawag sa’kin si Liza at pinapahinto na ang pagdeliver namin ng bulaklak. Tapos eto, nagulat ako nung kinausap ako nitong anak ko. Aba! Nung una nga ayoko pang maniwala… ” She laughed. Maya rolled her eyes, why is it that hard to believe her?! “Pero sobra kong saya at kayo ni Maya ang magkakatuluyan. Napakabait nyan. Swerte kayo sa isa’t-isa.” Teresita caresses his arm while talking to him. Maya is fidgeting. She’s scared of how her mother loves Richard. She is indeed in trouble once this is over.

“Namiss ko po kayo, Nay. Pasensya na po hindi ko man lang naligawan dito si Maya… Mabilis din po kasi ang pangyayari bigla na lang din namin naramdaman yung love.” Richard said. His eyes were looking straight at Tere’s eyes like he is sincere. Good thing Richard really loves Maya’s mother it is easier to do this.

Tere nodded happily like she knew all along that her daughter and him are meant to be.

“Ahhh… Ma, Chard, pasok na siguro tayo sa loob. Ma baka gutom na din si Richard.” She cut off the sweet moment because she’s getting more guilty as time goes by.

“Ay Oo nga! Halika na at nagluto kami ni Maya ng madami.” Teresita pulled him inside while Maya followed behind.
~~~~

“Kain lang nang kain Richard ha?” Tere shoves in more food on Richard’s plate.

Tere never did that to Maya’s ex boyfriend before. Maya’s mother rarely talks to Maya’s ex when he’s around their house.

“Nay, kayo po ang may the best kare-kare in the world!” He grinned at Tere before spooning some more rice in his mouth

“Ay nako. Yung adobo at afritada yung niluto ko. Pero masarap talaga magluto ng kare-kare yang anak ko.” Tere smiled broadly to the girl seated beside Richard.

He reached for the glass of water near him and take a big gulp “You cooked this? Masarap ha. I never knew you could cook!”

Maya was about to open her mouth to speak but then her mother beat her to it. “Ay nako syempre naman at tinuruan ko yan. Dapat marunong siya magluto bago man lang ikasal. Ngayon ay natutuwa ako at nasarapan ka. Pero Maya, nak. Di mo pa pala napagluluto itong si Richard? Kung sabagay ilang linggo pa lang din kayo naging magboyfriend-girlfriend. Minsan dalhan mo yan sa opisina.” Tere is indeed very excited to talk to her future son-in-law

“Opo. Balak ko din talaga ipagluto si Richard.” She smiled sweetly while squeezing Richard’s hand

“Mm.. Oo nga pala, eh sasabay daw kayo sa kasal ni Rafaela?”

“Opo Ma.. Pero matagal pa naman po so kami na bahala sa preparations.” Maya is getting uncomfortable with this.

“Kahit na ‘nak. Di bale, ako na bahala sa mga bulaklak kailangan sobrang ganda ng magiging venue nyo. Minsan lang ikakasal ang anak ko no.” Teresita said dreamily as if she’s decorating the church and reception already.

Maya almost choke with this. Richard gave her some water while he moves his hand up and down her back. From that moment, she knows that she is living a nightmare. But there is no escaping now.

~~~~

In her dream, she and Richard were lying on the bed with her head on his arm. They were just sleeping. Darn it, is it possible to dream of yourself sleeping? She saw her smiling in her dream while sleeping. So what is she dreaming of in her dream? Great.

Her phone suddenly rang waking her up. Her fumbling hands found the phone under her pillow. It was four in the morning, Richard is calling her. What does he needs at this hour?

“Hello” she answered sleepily

“Goodmorning sleepyhead!”

“Anong kailangan mo? Ang aga pa!!” She grunted. She needed a bunch of sleep before the day starts.

The line went quiet for a bit “hello? Nandiyan ka pa?” She asked

“I miss you…” He said. And for a second she thought that this is part of her stupid dream but then, he started laughing.

Maya propped her elbow on the bed and sighed “pwede ba. Kung nakainom ka at wala kang mapagtripan, wag ako!”

He chuckled some more. “Hindi ako nakainom. Nandito ako sa labas ng bahay nyo waiting for you.” Maya’s eyes rounded. His voice sounded like he is not teasing her.

With her phone tightly held on her ear, Maya stood up. She almost stumble while her eyes adjusts in the darkness. As soon as she made it to the window, she slightly opened it and indeed she saw him leaning on his car outside with a phone on his hand. She cursed upon seeing him outside.

“Hey, don’t say bad words.” She heard Richard laughing again.

“Sira ka talaga. Bakit ka ba nandito?”

“Magpapasama kasi ako…” He said firm. Like wherever it is she can’t say no.

“Ha? Ganito kaaga? Saan naman? At bakit hindi mo sinabi agad?” She ran her fingers through her hair in annoyance.

“Sa beach.”

“What?” She exclaimed

“You said sasamahan mo ako. Remember nung gabing sinabi mo kila Rafi na magpapakasal tayo?”

Maya closes her eyes trying to recall if she did said that. “Teka! Ang sabi ko sa club kung gusto mong kumanta!”

“Ganun na din yun, I am rephrasing it. Sasamahan mo ako anywhere I feel like visiting.”

“Wow! How can you be so sure na mapapasama mo ako?”

“Let’s just say na nakaspeed dial sa’kin si Rafi.. I can easily press the button and…”

“Fine! You are blackmailing me. Geez. Sana man lang kasi sinabihan mo ako agad.”

“Nagpaalam na ako sa mom mo. Maligo ka na you have an hour. Babalik ako at exactly five.” Then he immediately hung up, not waiting for her reply. Maya peeked outside the window and saw his car driving away.

Darn it, he is indeed serious! “Sinabihan nga si mommy ako naman hindi! Ugh!” She mumbled then reluctantly stomped her feet towards the bathroom.
~~~~

The light has the tint of early dawn when Richard and Maya started their journey to the beach. She of course doesn’t have even a slightest idea where will they go but she needs sleep more than bothering herself with where their destination is.

Maya jolted in her seat when Richard suddenly halted. She look up and saw a cat running away on the street. Richard has been quiet the whole ride making it better for her to get some needed sleep. She was about to close her eyes once more when suddenly she saw a bouquet of flowers from the rear view mirror in the backseat. So that is where that smell is coming from!

Her head quickly shifted at the back and smiled. Is that for her? But.. That can’t be. That must be for someone else. Yeah, right.

Richard caught her looking at the back seat. He pulled on a corner to a stop and reached for the bouquet.

“I ordered flowers sa mom mo. Iniabot nya sa’kin kanina bago ka bumaba. This one’s for you.” He smiled at her for a while and then started driving again.

“Thanks” Maya smiled while smelling those flowers on her lap. He can be sweet if he wants to. Then she remembered again that person whom he sends flowers everyday before.

“Ahh… Richard…” She started, she wanted to ask about that person. She is curious, all right.

“Yes?” He glances at her for a second before turning his eyes back on the road.

“Ah.. Um… Ano…” Screw it she can’t even verbalize it. “Saan ba tayo pupunta?” She said instead, chickening out on the last second

“To Neverland” he smirked at her and at that moment Maya thought she had met Peter Pan.
~~~~

Hand in hand they strolled the path along the shore, passing joggers and girls on swimsuits going the other way. Girls would turn their heads to Richard and Maya can see their attraction to him. But Richard doesn’t care he keeps on walking holding her hand not minding anyone.

Finally, they sat down on the sand and looked out to sea. Maya only has a few clothes with her. Two extra shorts, floral tops and undies. However inviting the sea gets, Richard is just sitting beside her lost in his own world. She then realized that it seemed like Richard didn’t brought anything with him. So will they just stay there and stare at the sea?

The two remained quiet for quite some time. Maya watched some family and couples walking by the shore and some having their swim.

He scooped up some sand and let it run through his fingers.

“A beach away from all the buzzing noises of the city. A whole place where you could swim, picnic with your nice sandwiches, watch the waves crash into those big rocks.” He pointed a huge boulder of rock near the shore. “There’s no place as peaceful as this. A picture of beauty.” Richard silently, almost to himself spoke. His eyes were still darted out into the ocean, examining the whole place as if he’s a kid new with such world. Discovering what it can offer his innocent eyes.

“So.. Nandito tayo to stare at it forever?” She glances at him with creases on her forehead. Not that she hated him for bringing her here but she wanted to enjoy this day and to swim in the ocean not just stare at it.

“Well, that is actually my plan. But of course you can go for a swim and I will just stay here for a while. I need to relax.” He closed his eyes for a moment and breathed deeply. The smell of salt water and the sounds of waves crashing and birds chirping drowned his ears.

“Gusto mo na namang magrelax? Ang layo nito sana kumanta ka na lang ulit sa bar mas malapit pa.”

“I need to be somewhere peaceful.”

She rolled her eyes and held his shoulder. “Uy!”

Richard quickly opened his eyes and blinked. “What?”

“Pwede bang kumain tayo? I am hungry.” True enough, they hadn’t eaten breakfast yet and she’s already starving.

He released a deep breath and held his hands high “all right. I think may stall around here somewhere.” He quickly stood up and offered her hand for Maya.

“Thanks, Sweetheart!!” She beamed after taking his hand to help her stand up then she walked passed him on her way in search of some food stand that might be anywhere in that beach.

Richard could only smile and followed his ever so funny pretend girlfriend.
~~~~~

“Dalawang chicken sandwich and cola.” Maya ordered right away once she reached a stall.

She’s been waiting for Richard to reach him for she knows that he’s following her earlier but still, he didn’t. Curiously, she turned back to look at him and her eyes turned into slits as she saw him talking to some girl wearing a two piece swimsuit and an enormous looking hat. The girl must be asking for something to Richard but she didn’t like that the girl seemed to enjoy having Richard’s attention as if he had won a bet. And with that, she wanted to break that girl’s heart at the moment. She would love to see the look on her face.

“Kuya, akin na yung cola. Babalikan ko yung sandwich. Wait lang ha pupuntahan ko lang yung magbabayad, ayun lang oh.” Maya pointed on where Richard and that girl is located. Few meters away from where she is.

The guy behind the stall looked at where she is pointing and nodded with a hint of pity “Sige po ma’am.” And as if that’s the sign she’s been waiting, she fixes herself and made her way towards Richard.

“Hi sweetheart!” She greeted cheerily which jolted Richard.

“Hey.”

“Ito na yung cola mo. Yung sandwich nandun pa.”

Richard nodded towards the stall and smiled “Ah, Maya.. This is Angela she’s just asking for some place where she could appreciate more the beauty of the place.”

“Oh.” She smiled at Angela and offered her hand for a handshake “nice to meet you.” The two just shook hand for a second then Maya shifted her eyes back to Richard. “So, tour guide ka na pala dito ngayon?” She eyed Richard carefully and she saw his eyes widen.

“Wh-at?”

“Wala…” She trailed off before looking away. She swear she would laugh any moment now on how the girl looks. Ashamed. Annoyed. Disappointed.

Angela cleared her throat suddenly “um.. Thanks, Richard pala. I should go. Baka hinahanap na ako eh.”

“Oh yes, you should. Ingat! Have fun!” Maya waved her hand as she watches her go. She glances back one last time before completely disappearing.

“Brat.” Richard commented while they made their way to the stall to get their sandwiches.

“Whaaat? Me? Come on!” She rolled her eyes while reaching for the bag of sanwiches and Richard handed some bills to pay.

“Seriously, nakita mo ba yung look sa mukha nya? Sobrang disappointed nya!” Maya gave a victorious laugh as she occupied a table with green umbrella to give them some shade from the heat of the sun.

“She was just asking for a spot here.” He shrugged “for a moment I thought you were jealous.” He grinned at her, teasing.

“Wow.” She scoffs “You wish. Nagugutom na kasi ako tapos ang tagal mo pa. Nagtatanong lang yun kunyari, kung medyo nalate ako ng konti nahingi na number mo.”

“Oh don’t be jealous, sweetheart.” He grinned “wag mo naman harangan yung mga nagkakagusto sa’kin.” He bit his lip which made his cheek to produce a dimple

“Ewan ko sa’yo!” She took a big bite of her sandwich and looked at him. She won’t deny that he really looks so good but somehow there is sadness in his eyes.

“Oo nga pala, Simon called me. Sabi nya next next week na yung schedule natin sa meet up dun sa designer.” He said

“Ahh.. Yes don’t worry about that ako na kakausap dun sa kaibigan ni Emman.”
~~~~

After that day at the beach, Richard would often ask Maya out somewhere. In a bar, mall, cinema, park, basketball court, any place he would love to go. Maya never said no, not only because she’s been blackmailed but because she also love being somewhere else. Also, Richard often asks her out during weekends so it really is a stress reliever add to that, Richard is a good company, someone you would love to hang out with.

Maya then tried to remember when was the last time she’s been this close with a guy. The thing is, its been ages. And after her last failed relationship, she tried to stay away from someone that might ruin her again. It is not that easy to mend a broken heart so she is now careful not to shatter it again into pieces.

But this certain closeness with Richard is her own idea after all. Somehow, she feel safe with him and never did it occur to her that he might hurt her. Because she knows that he won’t. She is that sure. Being with him gives her peace that she had never felt before with her ex boyfriends. He is such a nice guy and now a good friend of hers.

One sunny day, Rafi and Simon asked Richard and Maya out for an ocular inspection for possible reception that Rafi had searched online. Rafi doesn’t have any particular liking of any place. She just searched venues that she thinks might be a good place for a wedding reception whether it is a hotel, a function room, a garden, a beach, a private resort, wherever located, they will see it up close.

Maya wanted to vomit at the sight of Rafi and Simon tickling each other once they were outside the van and in their first venue. Them stealing kisses as if they had been a very perfect couple through the years.

Yuck. Gross.

“Bakit parang naiinggit ka sa kanila?” He leans in and whispers in Maya’s ear

“Asa naman! Kinikilabutan nga ako eh.” She hissed, getting queasy with the sight

Richard then pulled her waist closer to him and whispered “well, we also have to be sweet for their eyes.”

“Ha! Duh.” Maya rolled her eyes and hurriedly walked forward leaving Richard behind.

Their first stop is an enormous garden in the middle of the city.

After a greasy burger and fries, Rafi, Simon, Maya and Richard were on a break. Discussing what they like and dislike about the whole place that they just visited.

“Maganda yung garden, kaso lang…” Rafi took a sip of her iced tea “I don’t like the idea na nasa Manila pa din tayo eh. Parang a breath of fresh air in a polluted place…”

“Right, babe.” Simon quickly agreed

“Pero” Maya held her hand high “if sa Manila yung wedding, don’t you think it’s convenient na sa Manila din yung reception? Besides ikaw na nga din yung nagsabi na nasa Manila tayo pero parang wala.” She finished looking straight in their eyes

“Yes, I know. Okay, fine.” Rafi huffed ” let’s make this as an option.”

“Kung may magandang reception naman tayong makikita somewhere na malayo sa church, we can have the wedding early in the morning tapos gabi yung reception.” Richard surprisingly joined in the conversation. Maya’s been eyeing him earlier and he seemed so near yet so far. It is as if his mind is wandering elsewhere so it is really a surprise that he is paying attention.

“Tama, bro! Pwede din yan. For now tignan na lang din muna natin yung ibang mga lugar before we make a decision.” Simon nodded ending the conversation for a while.

They visited different venues such as hotels and resorts inspecting everything with Rafi picturing how their wedding reception will look like in there.

“Do you have any plan in mind?” Richard whispered in Maya’s ear while they quietly followed Rafi and Simon inside the grand hotel. “Para kasing masyado na nating tinototoo ito eh.”

Maya stopped as if thinking of her plans but really, there aren’t any. “Um.. Wala pa.” Richard opened his mouth to say something but Maya beat him to it “but don’t worry! I promise hindi aabot ng five months itong pagpapanggap natin.”

He sighed “fine. I trust you.”
~~~~~

The sky turned dark as they call it a day. Maya and Richard were seated at the back, with Maya staring out the window while Richard is checking his phone again. They all had been quiet inside as if all their energy were taken out of them.

Simon drove cautiously, but still, the tired engine of his car creaked and groaned at the endless pot-holes and rocks of the pavement.

Rafi groaned and woke up as the car halted in the middle of nowhere. “What happened?”

“Ah.. Baka napagod na yung sasakyan ko.” Simon said, scratching his head. “Okay naman ito kanina eh…”

“Babeeee!!” She screamed jolting them “It’s so dark na nga tapos wala pang tao anywhere! I want to sleep already.” Rafi shook his shoulders

Unbuckling his seat belt, he said to Rafi “Okay, babe chill. Dito lang kayo, Richard and I will check kung anong problema.” He then turned to look at Richard at the backseat and nodded. The two were about to open the door and jump out when Rafi grabbed Simon’s arm and stopped him.

“Oh no, no, no, Babe! Ayoko. Paano kung katulad ito nung mga nasa horror movies? Baka may monster or killer na bigla ka na lang saktan.” She pouted at him and turned to Richard, still holding Simon’s arm even tighter. “Richard can handle it, I think.” She smiled sweetly at him, Richard can only chuckle and nodded as if he’s understanding this silly act.

“Hoy! Teka, ang OA Rafs! At isa pa kung totoo yung sinasabi mo, bakit yung sweetheart ko lang ang lalabas? Paano nga kung may monster or killer sa labas at mapano siya? Sira ka ba? Di din ako papayag!” Maya hissed, looking so annoyed with the thought

Richard and Simon laughed at the sight of the girls. They are cute with their eyes staring at each other as if in a fight. Rafi really loves Simon while Maya is really such a good actress, Richard thought.

“We’ll be fine. Ichecheck lang namin saglit baka may problema lang. And actually, may nadaanan tayong inn and restaurant just a few minutes ago. We are not really in the middle of nowhere nasa Batangas tayo fyi.” Richard said, and opened the door but before he could jump out, as if remembering something, he leaned in Maya’s side and said, “Just in case na totoo ang sinabi mo Rafi, I love you sweetheart!” He grinned and planted a quick kiss on her cheek. Simon’s deep laugh filled the van, Rafi giggled while Maya blushed.

“Sira!! Dun na nga kayo para makaalis na tayo.” She pushes him out of the van and bit her lip trying so hard not to be affected by this. Everything is not real. She tried to remind herself.

After minutes of waiting inside the van, Richard and Simon opened the door of the van with a sullen expression. “The thing is, we don’t know kung anong problema and I don’t think kumpleto din yung tools natin.” Richard explained, his face has some black grease on.

Maya fight the urge to wipe those greases on his face while she watches as he stands outside the open door, but then she failed.

Quickly, she took her tissue box from her bag and wipe his face like a caring girlfriend. She didn’t even understood what Simon said for she’s focused on her pretend boyfriend.

His face was almost clean from dirt when Richard caught her hand and squeezes it. “Thanks, ako na.” He said and smiled at her for a flicker of second before finishing wiping his handsome face.

Maya nodded and redirected her attention back to Rafi and Simon who were talking.

“Okay, sige. Let’s just walk. Tutal sabi nyo malapit lang yung inn. We can stay there for the night. Ipahatak nyo na lang din itong van.” Rafi suggested then took her bag before hopping out of the van. “Tara na Maya” she offered her hand which Maya gladly took breaking the awkwardness she felt towards Richard. He should be happy that she cared. As she passes the guys, Maya rolled her eyes at Richard. He did caught her eyes and wore that confused look on his face as if asking what’s that for.

With a shrug, Richard followed the girls as they walk ahead of them while Simon locked the doors of his van.
~~~~

“We need two rooms, please.” Rafi cheerfully requested the reception of the inn.

“Okay ma’am. For 12 hours?” The receptionist ask them.

“Yes.”

“Sige po, ito po yung dalawang keys. Dun po sa second floor left side.” She handed them the keys with a smile and pointed where their rooms will be.

Maya happily followed Rafi while she leads the way. The whole day stressed her so much that all she wants to do is to lay on top of their bed and sleep all night long.

Once they are outside the two rooms, Maya literally clapped her hands and yawned. She is really that tired and needed to lay down as soon as possible. “Rafs, dito na lang tayo.” Maya reached for the locked doorknob of the room closest to her. She looks at Rafi and saw her face giving Maya an awkward smile while she clings on Simon’s right arm.

Oh no. No, no, no. Maya shakes her head while absorbing what that meant. “Sorry, Maya. But Simon and I will share the room kasi. You and Richard will share the same room.” She winked at Maya while the latter blushed profusely but covered her face with her hands immediately to hide her face.

“Please tell me that you are kidding.”

Simon and Rafi exchanged looks and turned to her. “Uh.. Nope.” Rafi grinned

“What?! Seryoso ka? Rafs, hindi maganda tignan at hindi pa kayo kasal!” Maya’s voice rises an octave higher after processing everything. This can’t happen. Although of course, she doesn’t know whether they are already doing it, but for as long as she has the power to stop them she will do it. A baby on the way can ruin her plans if ever for she, herself will tell Simon to marry her bestfriend if that happens.

“Duh! We will just sleep. And besides wag kang judgmental. You know me. I hope you can trust me as well.” Rafi released an exasperated sigh “and I am sure Richard is okay with this, right? We all needed rest and I am sure na mas masarap yung tulog ko if I am beside the man I love. I know ikaw din and also Richard.”

Maya gave Richard a knowing look as if asking for some help.

Richard thought that over for a moment, and then said, “Not a problem with me. I really miss being with my sweetheart.” He shrugged and winks at Maya.

Her lips parted in surprise, Maya stomps her feet and snatches the key from Rafi’s hand. “Fine! Goodnight!” She inserted the key to the keyhole and turned the doorknob leaving all of them behind.

This will be a sleepless night.

~
I am enjoying reading the comments. Yun yung nagpupush sa’kin to write. Thank you! Enjoym 🙂

This Time – Chapter 4: “US”

Chapter 4: “US”

The crowd doubled as the night wore on. Party songs were blasting on the speakers making it harder to understand each other. Richard, like a gentleman he is guided Maya inside.

They took a seat on a vacant booth and quickly eyed possible girl they can talk to. With the dim light, it is not that possible to catch a girl’s pretty face that long, or maybe Maya is not just that used to it.

“Huy! Ano may nakikita ka ba?” She pulled his sleeve and whispered on his ear so that he can hear her.

“Those girls on the bar are looking at me. They are pretty.” He whispered back then Maya glances towards the bar and true enough, she found those girls ogling at him.

“Okay, go on.. Make a move, talk to them!”

“What? Anong sasabihin ko? Like pwede ba silang makipagdate sa kaibigan ko bukas?”

“Yes! Something like that. You are indeed a genius, we make a good pair!” She grinned at him and then she tried to push him up. “Go Chardie, you can do it!” She cheered him up.

“Fine, seriously I don’t really know why I am following you.”

“Must be because of my charm” she shrugs and smiled.

Richard chuckles and pinches her nose. “You’ve gotta treat me something after this.”

“Yeah, yeah sure.”
~~~

Maya waited and watched as Richard made his way towards the girls. She saw them blush when he approached them. Richard offered them some drinks and talk some more. The girls offered their hands for a handshake which Richard gladly took.

The girl in the middle who is the prettiest of the three touched Richard’s arm and started caressing it. Maya cringed on how girls nowadays flirt. After a while, the prettiest whispered something to Richard which earned a laugh from him. Darn. What is taking him so long?

The two other girls were soon after left out. Richard and the prettiest girl chatted some more before Maya saw the two took their phones out and typed something. They must have exchanged their numbers. Few more minutes, Maya saw Richard bid goodbye while the girl planted a lingering kiss on his cheek before turning around to probably look for her friends.

“What the hell did she say?” Maya demanded an information as soon as he was back in their booth. But Richard didn’t talk and just pulled her up intending to leave the crowded place.

Inside the car, Maya asked everything that Richard and the girl (which she learned from Richard was named as Ruby) discussed about.

He said that first, Ruby liked him, which shouldn’t be doubted considering that he really could attract attention in there. Second, she asked him to go out of that place and go somewhere else which he declined but he flirted back and this is where he doesn’t want to tell Maya what he had said to her but the thing is, after some chit chat, they just exchanged numbers. So things are settled, all they have to do is to text her and make her agree with her plan.

“Good!” She exclaimed “I am thinking of just setting Simon up. The problem is where… But you have to text the girl later, okay? I will text you all the details. Basta I will plan everything smoothly para walang sabit.”

“Just make sure of that.”

“I will! Magtiwala ka lang.” She glances at him and smiles, but then that smile faded when she got conscious of the red lipstick stain on his right cheek. Without thinking about it, Maya quickly took her hanky and wipe it off his face. “Gross! You still have her lipstick.”

“Gee, thanks.”

“You’re welcome.” He gave her an you-owe-me look “yes! I do owe you babawi ako don’t worry.”
~~~~~

That night after Richard drove her home, Maya took a quick shower while waiting for Richard to text her. She told him to text her as soon as he’s home so that she can tell him her plans for tomorrow.

Chardie
Maya, I am home. I’m too tired can u txt me everything now?

Maya
Ok. First, text Ruby and tell him that u want to have lunch with her tom. Then u will tell her that a friend of yours likes her but was too shy to approach her last nyt. Then we will set them up for dinner. Txt Simon that u want to have a dinner with him like old friends do.

Chard
Hey, bakit parang puro ako ang kikilos?

Maya
Chill!! I will text Rafs din para magmall. Dun kayo sa mall kung saan tayo nagmeet before. Dun sa Italian Restaurant dun ko din aayain si Rafs but u have to observe and txt me para sakto na may makita si Rafi.

Chardie
Like the heck what?

Maya
Talk to the girl kasi! Like make her agree sa plan natin, tell her u will date her!

Chardie
What? Are u out of ur mind? Dapat naghire na lang tayo ng babae

Maya
I think the girl that u just met sa club ay ganun din naman eh

Chardie
Ha. I don’t think so…or maybe ur ryt. Anyway, Simon really can attract girls, too. Bahala na.

Maya
We can do this partner!

Chardie
Stop that. Goodnight, Maya. And please, if this doesn’t work let’s just be happy for them.

That was Richard’s last text for her that she didn’t texted back. She doesn’t want to give up but if her plan fails, what else can she do about it? Maybe they are indeed destined and all she can do is hope that he did already changed for the better. For Rafi.
~~~~~

“Maya..”

“Hi Richard! So ano, kamusta lunch nyo?”

Today is the execution of their plan. Maya waited for Richard’s call and at two o’clock, he finally called her.

“Ruby’s with her friends after we had lunch. Sabi nya she would love to meet Simon. Actually, nakita daw nya dati si Simon sa business magazine at naging crush daw nya. But I told her that Simon hates blind dates so I make her promise not to tell Simon na ako yung nagset up sa kanila and I also told her na we will set things na parang hindi sinasadya na Ruby was there and all.”

“Yes! Ang galing mo talaga Chardie!” She happily said

“Stop calling me that!”

She pouted “fine, fine. Oh basta kita tayo mamaya. Buhhye!” She hung up

Before doing anything else that day, Maya remembered to text Rafi and ask her out.

“Rafs! Can we pls pls pls eat dinner later? I miss u already e. Please. :(” she sent her that text message and after a while, Rafi did replied.

“Ofc!! I would love to. Text me the time and place. Aalis din si Simon so I will really eat at home. :)”

With her fist up in the air, Maya shouted “YES!”
~~~~

Dinner time, the mall isn’t that crowded with people considering that it is a weeknight. Maya and Rafi first stroll inside the mall to do some quick shopping. While Maya is waiting for Rafi to buy a bag, she texted Richard about their plan.

She learned that Simon is already waiting for him inside the restaurant and he already asked Ruby to go inside and talk to him.

“Rafs, dalian mo na dyan, I am hungry na.” She said trying to hide her nervousness with everything. She is starting to get panicky good thing Rafi didn’t notice it.

As soon as they were inside the restaurant, Maya steered her inside. And that was it. She saw Simon and Ruby seated on a corner talking. Ruby is whispering something in his ear and that is what Rafi caught. She stiffened beside Maya like her blood were drained out of her.

Maya closed her eyes feeling guilty all of a sudden when she felt Rafi’s shoulders start shaking, she knows she’s silently crying. Maya would stop her if she will freak out and make a scene but fortunately, she didn’t. Rafi just turned around and silently left which made Maya guiltier.
~~~~

“Maya..” Richard grabbed her wrist to stop her from walking while Rafi went on ahead of her ignoring the world.

“Richard, I think it’s successful but Rafi needs me now.” He nodded

“Okay, papasok na din ako sa loob to talk to him. Ang alam nya magkikita kami at magpapakilala lang si Ruby.”
~~~~

“I hate him so much!!!” Rafi already had used four boxes of tissue while she keeps on ranting inside Maya’s room where she would stay.

Maya said nothing and just be there for her, giving her water and caressing her back.

“Why are you so quiet? Come on, you can tell me your ‘I told you so’ line now.” She sniffed while wiping her tears.

Indeed, Maya always uses that line to her whenever Simon cheats on her. But she just can’t. Especially that it is her fault. But then come to think of it, Simon didn’t seem to tell Ruby to back off because he’s already engaged or something.

“Well, hindi ka din naman kasi nakikinig talaga eh.” She said truthfully

“I know.”

“You can talk to him about this.” Maya quickly said and she regretted saying that after

“Yes, I will. Dapat ko pa din naman malaman yung side nya di ba? It could be his friend or something.” Oh great, just great.

“Pero! Pwede ding babae nya yun. Hindi naman ito yung first time di ba.” Maya reminded her friend. She can narrate what had happened before on those four times that he had cheated her. Maya can clearly remember the place, the name of the girl and what happened when they caught him.

“Oo, kaya nga kakausapin ko siya. Don’t worry, Maya. I am old enough. I know what I am doing. Thank you for everything.” Rafi embraced Maya while tears are still falling from her eyes.

In the end, Maya knows that their plan wasn’t as successful as it should have been.
~~~~~

After three days or ranting, crying and endless late night conversation with Rafaela, Maya already didn’t get another call from her.

“Are u ok?”

“Rafs?”

“I am here, ok? And pls think this time.”

She had sent her messages and even tried calling her but she didn’t texted her back nor accepted her calls.

This is not good, she thought.

“Richard!!” She called Richard during lunch break feeling hopeless

“Hi.”

“May balita ka ba kay Simon?”

“Yes, after our dinner he said that Rafi’s been mad at him and wala siyang idea kung bakit. Ayaw na din daw ni Rafi matuloy yung Civil Wedding nila two days ago. Sabi ko they need to talk. I think they did. He actually called me up kanina bago ka tumawag asking me to have dinner later with him and Rafi. Sabi nya isama daw kita. I think they have an idea that we’re dating.” He said. Maya can hear from the other line the flipping of pages and she knows that he’s busy that day with paperworks

“But.. But wala naman silang idea that we did that right? Yung set up thingy?” She asked nervous of getting caught and that maybe asking them on dinner is just not because they thought that they are dating.

“Nope. Ruby left after she saw me approaching Simon. Simon even told me na lumapit lang sa kanya yung girl at nakipagkwentuhan. Yun lang. He’d been defensive” he laughs “as if I caught him cheating. Pero yun lang naman talaga, they just talked. I don’t think this will work”

“Yun nga din yung kinakabahala ko eh, more than me being caught. Alam ko Rafi will still forgive him”

“I told you, hayaan na lang sila. I think Si would be faithful naman this time. He really loves Rafaela, I know… Siguro he can’t just resist temptation but maybe he already changed.”

“I don’t know.. Pero thanks. Oo nga pala, what time yung dinner? Rafi’s not texting me eh, I am worried.” She stood up from her chair and went to the pantry to get some cold water.

“Around eight, I still have a meeting eh. Sabay na lang tayo I will just fetch you.”

“Okay, thanks.” She stood still contemplating. Maybe she really needs to give up.
~~~~

Ten minutes past eight in the evening, Maya and Richard arrived inside the restaurant in Quezon City. Rafi and Simon were already waiting for them and were done ordering food once they were seated.

“Good thing you guys are already here.” Rafi happily greeted them earlier which then Maya knew that she did forgave Simon and they already talked.

“Yeah, I was worried about you Rafs.”

“Sorry, Maya. Simon and I talked kasi and alam ko you are worried about me… But you don’t have to. Simon explained everything” she took a glance at Simon who’s seated beside her “and the reason why we invited you guys is because gusto ko din marinig from Richard kung totoo bang magkikita dapat sila and the girl just approached Simon.” Rafi stared at Richard waiting for him to talk. Maya did the same waiting on what will he say.

“Yes.” He said “I invited Simon out for dinner since matagal na din yung last time that we talked about things… Then nung pagdating ko I saw him and that.. That girl but they are just talking. Sa tingin ko the girl likes him but she left siguro Simon won’t budge.” He shrugged and anyone who had heard what he said would definitely believe him. He’s very confident and what he just stated is very clear. ‘Balimbing!’ Maya thought

That did it, Rafaela beamed. She smiles like that when she knows that she’s right and she just proved herself right. “See, Maya. You don’t have any reason to doubt Simon. I think he changed.”

“Of course I did!” Simon quickly said. “Yun lang talaga yung nangyari, and I don’t want to blow things up. I want to get married with Rafi soon. I’ve learned and grew up. Maya I promise I won’t hurt your best friend.” He stared at Maya and for a flicker of second, she believed him only if those days that he cheated won’t register in her brain. But then again, what else can she do about it?

“Yeah, I guess. If you guys are happy…” Maya can feel Richard looking at her as if he can’t believe what he’s saying. She gave him an I-will-kill-you-later look and he chuckled upon seeing her face.

Rafi noticed this and grinned “Hey, you guys.. Napapansin namin na close kayo ah. Are you guys dating?” She teased them

“What? No!” Maya quickly said while Richard just smiled

“Napakadefensive mo Maya!” Rafi studied her “you know what, maganda sana kung double wedding tayo no? Ako, ikaw, Simon, Richard.. That would be perfect!” She said dreamily

“Oo nga bro! Magpakasal na din kayo!” Simon joined Rafi in teasing them. Richard didn’t say a thing and could only smile at the two.

While Maya, oh Maya was left wondering the what ifs. She’s been quiet and Richard noticed it. “Hey?” Richard pinches her nose to get her attention. Rafi find it sweet and giggled.

“Um.. Rafs..” She finally looked at Rafi, then to Richard. Richard was puzzled on how she looked like she has an important thing to say.

“What is it?” Rafi arched an eyebrow, questioning her. She knows that reaction, and it means that whatever Maya will say is very important. She once saw Maya looking like that when she told her that she was in love for the first time. Oh no!

“Richard and I…” Richard’s eyes widen in anticipation. He had a bad feeling about what this girl is up to.

“What? Come on! Spill it out!” Rafi was smiling, oh she somehow knew what’s going on.

“We’re already a couple.” She blurted

“WHAT?” Simon, Richard and Rafi exclaimed. But then Simon and Rafi exchanged knowing looks.

“Oh we knew it!!” Rafi giggled and leans in

Maya is afraid to look at Richard because she knows he will be angry at her.

“Wait.” Simon laughs while holding his hand up in the air “bakit parang nagulat ka Chard more than us?” He eyed his surprised friend and chuckled

“Ah!” Maya quickly covered Richard’s mouth when he’s about to say something. Whatever it is Maya should prevent it. “Si sweetheart kasi is not yet ready to announce it… Kasi di ba ang awkward na bestfriends nyo kami tapos kami din nainlove.. But we will say it din naman. Kaya kanina I have to deny that we’re dating.. Pero ayoko na itago eh” She doesn’t know where she get that ‘sweetheart’ endearment thingy but, oh well she must get used to it.

“Ohhh..Sweetheart huh?! Bakit naman magiging awkward? That is really sweet. Imagine, two couples having double date!” Rafi giggled oblivious on what Richard looked right now.

“I know!” Maya beamed like she’s very happy with her announcement. “And you know what?”

“What? What? What?! Tell me!” Rafi excitedly leaned in while she rested her chin on her palm waiting for whatever her friend will say.

“We can have that double wedding plan of yours because he asked me to marry him last night!” She squealed like all of this were true.

“Maya!” Richard roared and before Rafi could jump out of excitement, Richard’s roar scared her.

“Oops! Sorry, secret pa ba yun sweetheart? We should tell them already!” Maya sweetly smiled at him but really, her lips were trembling as she tried to tame the lion. When Richard’s eyes were still as cold as an ice, Maya braced herself and leans in to kiss him on the lips. Rafi gasped while Richard’s eyes rounded in surprise. This woman can really give a hell lot of surprises in an hour!

“Sorry na, please don’t be mad. They deserve to know.” She pleaded cutely then pouted. Richard exhaled and looked away.

Simon is enjoying everything. How his friend’s face changes reactions. He shakes his head as he cracks up. “You two are funny.”

Rafi covered her mouth and blushes with too much giddiness. Finally! Her best friend is in love again. “I am so happy for you two! We can have that double wedding! Simon, babe pleaseeee. Sabay na lang wedding natin!” She pleaded her boyfriend while tugging his arm.

Simon then looked at her and kissed her forehead before lifting his hands in surrender. “Whatever you want, babe. Sure. Mas masaya nga kung sabay yung wedding natin.”

“Yes!!” Rafi literally bounced on her seat in happiness. “Oh come on, Chard. Wag ka na magalit kay Maya from spilling everything. Girls are just that excited for telling their friends that they are engaged.” She said, thrilled.

Maya could only hope and pray that Richard won’t ruin everything. This plan of hers just came up earlier when Rafi mentioned that if they are indeed a couple, they can have a double wedding. That would definitely postponed the wedding longer. Anything could happen by then. She crossed her fingers while Richard sighs. “I’m sorry that I’ve been upset. It’s just that wala pa kasi yung.. Yung engagement ring ko for her.” Rafi’s eyes directed to Maya’s ring finger and nodded “kasi nga everything happened so fast like a spur of the moment thing.. You know the idea came up with me after WE…”

All ears are on him and as he trailed off Maya saw Rafi blushed and Simon laughed. “Made Love? I knew it.” He bursted out laughing

“Kiss! We kissed!” Maya exclaimed louder than was usual which earned people to look at her. She buried her face with her hands in embarrassment. She will definitely kill Richard later!

“Sweetheart, wag mo naman ipagkalat. You’re such a kiss and tell.” Richard tried to remove her hands off her face but Maya moved a little. “Shut up!” She hissed

Rafi and Simon were enjoying just watching them. “You are so cuteee!! Such a cute couple!”

Maya could hear Richard laughing now, great he is now enjoying this act. “Okay, thanks Rafs. But I think, Richard and I needs to go. We can discuss the details tomorrow, okay? Or some other time beacause I am pissed already with my man.” Maya gave Richard a piercing look.

“Oh no! World War 3 na yan Chard. Ihatid mo na.” Simon suppressed his laughter

Rafi allowed the silence to linger a little bit longer then, said brightly “Nakakatuwa talaga kayo. Okay, Maya. We can talk some other time. You guys barely touched your food. Wag na nga kayo mag-away.” She chuckled and waved her hand as Maya stood up and started walking away.

“See you guys.” Richard then followed Maya outside.
~~~~

“What was that all about? And seriously, ikaw pa yung napikon samantalang sinakyan ko lang yang trip mo?” The two were at the back of the restaurant where Richard had parked his car. Maya is standing near his car, scowling.

“Fine, sorry. And thank you.” Maya’s annoyance faded when she remembered that she doesn’t have any right to get pissed at him. “Bigla ko na lang kasi naisip.. Sorry.”

“Yeah right!” He snorted “hindi mo man lang pinag-isipan! Kahit na sabihin mong five months pa before the wedding, time flies so fast Maya. Paano yung preparations? Ha?”

“Just please, calm down.” She hushed him down when his tone is starting to rise. “I know this is a stupid idea pero nasabi ko na eh. Panindigan na lang natin. If I am part of that wedding eh di mas madali na maprolong yung kasal or ma-stop. Don’t worry, hindi naman tayo magpapakasal talaga eh. Syempre ayoko din naman makasal sa katulad mo no!”

“Wow, thanks!” He scoffs “Can we just stop this now? Pwede namang pumasok tayo ulit sa loob and tell them everything.”

“What? Hindi! That is the most stupid idea. Please, sige na naman pumayag ka na. Libre na yung flowers mo everyday na binibigay mo kung kanino man. I promise. Ako na bahala dun” she pleaded

“You think you can bribe me?” He raises his eyebrows and crossed his arms

“Please, Chardie… Sasamahan din kita whenever you feel like singing sa bar.” She smiled sweetly at him.

He heaved a sigh, hunches his shoulders as he walks a little. “I really don’t know why you are doing this. Ikaw lang din naman yung mapapahamak. But fine.”

“Really? Thank you!!” She jumped and embraced Richard in happiness. With that, Richard finally smiled back with his dimple showing.
~~~~~

Maya
Hey! Fyi Rafi’s bugging me abt hw u proposed and hw we fell in love. If ur asked, ang sinabi ko is that after nila tayo ipakilala, u asked for my number then nagyaya ka ng date and the rest is history.

Chardie
What? I think it’s the other way around.

Maya
Shut up!!!! Basta, ok. Un yon. And kung paano ka nagpropose, a week after we became a couple, and us kissing sa car mo before ako pumasok sa bahay. (Don’t u dare laugh) u suddenly asked to marry me. End of story.

Chardie
Ha ha ha. You know, pwede kang writer.

Maya
Stop. Just stop!! Nga pala, I have to tell mom kasi si Rafi eh. Nabanggit ko na hindi pa alam ni mommy. She’s been bugging me to tell mom. Pls.

Chardie
What? I won’t lie to your mom! Nay Tere is nice. That’s too much.

Maya
Plsplspls. Ako na ang bahala. Just be there. Lunch next week. Please, sweetheart. I love you. Xoxoxoxo 🙂 😉

Richard could only grin while he reads her text messages. It’s been a long long time since someone texted him an ‘I love you’ even though it is not true, somehow it can brighten up a dull day. He is in a boring meeting and Maya can make it bearable. Liza, his secretary noticed the smile on his face and could only suppress a smile. Too happy that Richard is now smiling.
~~~~

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