Long-held Torch – Epilogue
The sun was brilliant against a cloudless, celestial sky. But the sun rays were nothing compared to the brilliant smile that his wife flashed before she opened the passenger door and stepped out of the Toyota Land Cruiser. Maya was wearing a sleeveless one-piece cream lace dress that showed off her shapely legs. It had a back slit that afforded him a microsecond glimpse of her smooth thighs. Richard twisted his lips in silent self-mockery. He had just parked in front of the Catedral de San Nicolás and about to enter its hallowed grounds while he was harbouring the most unholy thoughts about his wife.
Richard got out of the vehicle and stood behind Maya who was stooping to check on baby Robbie who was still sleeping in his baby capsule. At six weeks old, their son had grown hale and hearty with strong lungs that he exercises whenever he howls for delayed feeds. While Richard helps in changing diapers and bathing, Maya had been getting up every three hours to breastfeed him. The last five very early mornings, he had been getting up to get their son the minute he started fretting. It took Richard awhile but he has mastered positioning their baby so that his son could properly latch onto Maya’s breast even when she was half asleep. It certainly made a world of difference for his wife to get that much needed sleep. And Richard had enough fatherhood experience in the last six weeks to savour moments of quietude.
“Let him sleep,” Richard whispered as he anchored his left hand on Maya’s waist. “We still have time.”
“But I need to change him.” Maya protested as she eyed the delicate christening outfit made of piña cloth hanging on behind the driver’s side. It was last worn by her niece Abby, like her siblings before her. It was also the same clothing Maya, Kute and her Kuya Ryan wore during their own christening. Tatay Arturo and his siblings also wore the very same outfit in their his own ceremony.
“Hmmmmnnn…” Richard responded, distracted by the physical changes in Maya with her stretchy lace dress moulded to her fuller breasts and more rounded hips. She still has a small post-baby bump but her overall form can only be described as voluptuous. “Have I told you how beautiful and sexy you look this morning?”
“Ang laki pa rin ng puson ko.” Maya wrinkled her nose up at him.
“You look very sexy to me, Mrs. Lim,” Richard said in a low voice to reassure his young wife.
“At bakit ganyan ang tingin mo sa ‘kin, Mr. Lim?” Maya pivoted to properly face him, placing her hands on his solid chest while his hands possessively settled themselves on her hips. While Richard was wearing formal pants and leather Florsheim shoes, he was just clad in his white V-neck T-shirt while his Barong Tagalog hangs unwrinkled behind Robbie’s outfit.
They were partially hidden by the open door of the vehicle while the bustle of activity in the town plaza went on. If anyone saw the couple cuddling by the black Toyota Land Cruiser, they pretended not to notice. Besides, Maya and Richard’s affectionate public displays were already a common sight among the town folks.
While his chinito eyes glinted, Richard wordlessly responded by pulling her closer, slowly lowering his head towards hers. The kiss began lightly, a featherlight caress across her slightly parted lips. And he was just content to keep it light but Maya had other ideas. He felt her angle her head to deepen the kiss and he was helplessly lost. His senses surged at her flagrant response and would have probably have gone a bit further until he heard a gurgling sound in the background.
It was Maya who first snapped out of the sensual haze. Maya turned her head towards baby Robbie who had already woken up and was eyeing them not too happily for ignoring him. He was already starting to fret. Maya bent over to release him from his capsule confines.
Richard’s lips twisted as his wife quickly ‘recovered’ while it took effort for him to curb his libido. The weeks of necessary celibacy was taking its toll on his self-control. He just stood quietly while Maya fussed over their son.
“Maya,” a female voice from a short distance hailed them. It was Nanay Teresita, Tatay Arturo following her, coming to join them. Kute was not too far behind. Ryan, together with his family, was just parking the old Mitsubishi sedan on the opposite side of the road.
After the usual round of greetings, Maya handed baby Robbie to her mother who volunteered to garb the baby in christening clothes. Richard took advantage of everyone’s preoccupation to pull his wife to the side for another cuddle. Within the circle of his arms, Maya carefully rubbed off her pink lipstick from Richard’s lips. A squeal of protest made Maya turn towards baby Robbie who was now squirming as his grandmother was trying to tie the bonnet under his chin to complete the ensemble. Richard gave her a quick peck on her neck which brought on goosepimples along Maya’s bare arms.
“Ricky!” Maya protested.
“Lagot ka sa ‘kin mamaya,” he mock threatened his wife.
“Behave, Mr. Lim!” Maya giggled, her doe-shaped eyes.crinkling at the corners.
When the baby was ready, Nanay Teresita held him and quickly brought him inside the cathedral where Doña Esmeralda and Don Roberto were already waiting. The rest of the Dela Rosas followed closely at her heels. Simon, Edzelyn, and Emman, who just arrived, waved to Maya before briskly walking to join the christening party. Maya waved back as she buttoned up her husband’s Barong.
In contrast, Richard and Maya, who were holding hands, followed in a more leisurely pace. Standing at the massive arched entrance, Richard scanned the large cathedral which was bathed in colourful light streaming through the stained glass arched windows. Like the Spanish villa, the old church also evokes memories for Richard. He used to join the Dela Rosas for Sunday church service whenever he stays for the summer school breaks. He fondly remembers another christening day wherein he was at pains to suppress the attraction he has been feeling for a particular seventeener. The same female who was trying to act so maturely in her first pair of heels but readily sheds any mantle of maturity to poke her tongue at him to express her annoyance.
When he turned towards his wife, his lips curved in a tender smile. Maya’s eyes had misted as she remembered walking down the very same aisle for her altar date with him. In tune with what she was feeling, Richard gently squeezed her hand.
“Sweetheart, bawal ang umiyak ngayon,” he gently teased. “Baka sabihin nila inaaway kita.”
Maya winkled her nose up at him.
Richard softly chuckled as he kissed her nose. When he straightened, he guided her towards the side of the altar where everyone had assembled for the christening ceremony. Their baby was christened Robert Arthur, named after both grandfathers. His namesakes were beaming throughout the special service while their respective spouses smiled indulgently. It was a joyous occasion for both the Dela Rosa and Lim families.
Later in the small reception held at the villa, the topic of conversation among family members centered around the latest uncovered secret. Richard found a hidden drawer in the fireplace mantle when they converted the master suite’s sitting room into Robbie’s nursery. Inside the drawer was a locked wooden box with ornate metal joinery and hinges. When they managed to open the box, it contained a signet ring that featured a shield background with a sword intertwined with the two roses. There were also several folded parchments fragile with age which appeared to be letters written in archaic Spanish. Richard sent them to an antiquities expert to be properly handled for analysis and translations.
When the report came back, it was confirmed that the sheets were correspondences from DE La Rosa’s family. Most came from Desmundo Ezequiel’s mother while one came from his father, Don Miguel, Vizconde de Rosaleda, expressing his very negative sentiments regarding Desmundo Ezequiel’s plans to marry an indio.
Still, the most intriguing of all was the letter of apology and regret penned by Diego Alejandro, Desmundo Ezequiel’s older brother. It revealed that it was Diego who had a dalliance with Desmundo’s fiancée which resulted in pregnancy. Despite being blamed for his fiancée’s disgrace, Desmundo chose to keep quiet about the whole sordid affair. He was disowned and exhiled for his silence.
“That certainly puts Señor La Rosa in a very different light,” Richard declared much later when he gathered all the report documents and placed them all back in the manila folder on the coffee table.
“Mmmmm,” Maya nodded while she carefully placed a sleeping Robbie back in his bassinet. The baby was exhausted from trying to keep awake to see what the fuss was all about. Now, that the villa was quiet once more, he can catch up on his sleep.
“Is that all you have to say?” Richard was perplexed that his wife was not showing much excitement to the news. His in-laws expressed more animated sentiments earlier.
“Well, the letter just confirmed what I already knew. I have always known that Señor La Rosa was not the cad the stories painted him to be,” Maya stated calmly while she walked barefoot towards him.
“Uhhmmmnn,” Maya nodded again as she leaned against his wide chest while his arm automatically went round her shoulders. “Consider what you already know of him. He came to the colony, the scion of a noble house but from all accounts, he had dealt well and lived with the locals, indicating that he treated others with respect. He even fell in love with a local girl. He even followed her to the island and married her which means he was not uppity like his father Don Miguel. In his stay here, he lent his expertise to design and build the Catedral de San Nicolás which made him a contributing member of the community. Before that, he even accepted sculpting commissions to help raise funds in building the church, endearing him to the people. That smacks of selflessness. All these qualities does not fit with him callously abandoning his pregnant fiancée. It’s just not—”
“Not in character” Richard finished the sentence for Maya who struggled to find the right descriptive words.
“Exactly!” Maya’s eyes sparkled up at her husband who now had both his arms around her .
“Just imagine sweetheart. If it weren’t for Señor and Señora La Rosa’s untimely death, they could have ended up as the Viscount and Viscountess of Rosaleda.”
Maya was shaking her head.
“You don’t think so?” Richard smiled lopsidely.
“I don’t think Señor La Rosa considered leaving the island. He built this huge villa for his wife and he planned to fill it with children. He was happy and content here with his wife.”
“You are looking at this from a woman’s perspective, sweetheart,” Richard gently argued. “Señor La Rosa was first and foremost a father, and a noble man to boot. He would have considered bringing his family back to Spain so that his firstborn son can inherit the title and lands. He would have considered giving the best lifestyle and education for his children.”
Maya considered her husband. She remembered that even before Robbie was born, Richard had the nursery in the Ayala Alabang mansion equipped with cameras so that the future occupant can be monitored 24 hours a day. Her husband even has an app so he can get live video feeds of his son on his iPhone5 whenever and wherever he wants it. Financially, Richard had already set up a trust fund for their child. A few months before she gave birth, Richard was also trying to convince her to hire a governess so that their child can get high educational stimulation as well as being properly cared for.
Maya had to put her foot down on the last suggestion, though. Nothing can replace the bonding and attachment between mother and child during the formative years. A child needs to feel secure within the circle of love that a mother constantly provides so that the child can confidently explore and learn. Maya will just have to learn to provide the educational stimulation that Robbie needed.
Still, Richard raised a valid point.
“Hmmmnnn, you may be right, sweetheart,” Maya agreed with a nod.
“Of course, it’s merely speculation which we have no way of verifying. But I am glad that decision was taken out of his hands.” Richard’s fingers were now twirling with her hair tied up with a scrunchie.
“Well, if he had been able to bring his family back to Spain, how on earth would we meet? You would be an aristocrat, moving in entirely different circles.”
Maya smiled at the idea but shook her head again.
“No?” Richard asked.
“I think we were destined to meet regardless of our personal circumstances. Kasi diba taga-Manila ka? Napadpad ka lang naman sa Mindoro dahil kay Kuya, diba?”
“Yes, we met through your brother. My godfather also lives on the island. So, the chances of us meeting would be high because we both live in the same country whereas if you were born and bred in Spain, the chances would be very slim.”
“But you said you travelled all over Europe while working for that British conglomerate. Did you not go to Spain?”
“Yes, I did but—”
“So, it is not impossible at all, Mr. Lim!” Maya declared emphatically.
Richard laughed while shaking his head. “This is one weird conversation we are having.”
Maya giggled at that.
“Ikaw kasi masyado kang cynical, eh! Basta ako ang alam ko, ikaw ang destiny ko.” Maya looked up at him with adoring doe-shaped eyes.
“And I should not argue with that.” Richard kissed her nose as he deftly took the scrunchie off her hair, making her shoulder length tresses tumble down her back. It had grown past shoulder length these past few months and Richard just loves looking at his wife with her glorious hair down.
Maya’s eyes rounded like saucers when she realised what her husband did.
Maya pursed her lips and instinctively reached for the scrunchie which Richard was dangling out of her reach. With narrowed eyes, Maya twisted herself as she anchored one knee on the sofa and braced one hand on his shoulder before reaching for the scrunchie again. Richard moved his hand but was distracted with Maya’s fuller bosom further exposed with her stretchy lace dress front pulled down when her body twisted. When Maya almost fell off the sofa, his free hand instinctively went round Maya’s waist. The move overbalanced Maya and toppled over him, rendering him on his back with Maya on top of him.
“Ha! I got it!” Maya triumphantly grabbed the scrunchie off his fingers.
Richard’s hands sensuously skimmed over his wife’s back, loving the feel of her body against his.
“No,” Richard said when Maya would have tied her hair up again. He reached and took the scrunchie off her and then lovingly twined his fingers in her tresses.
Maya stilled when she realised that her husband’s eyes had taken on that sensual glint as he looked up at her.
“You are right sweetheart. I would have definitely pursued you even if I met you elsewhere,” he admitted in a whisper.
Maya’s eyes likewise became sultry as she continued to look down at her handsome husband. Slowly, she took his glasses off and then she lowered her face until her lips almost touched his.
“And I would have definitely let myself be caught…” her voice trailed, her warm breath mingling with his.
Maya’s lids fluttered close as their lips melded. Richard’s hands held her head, angling her better to receive his kiss while the scrunchie and specs fell to the floor. These were followed by Maya’s lace dress and then her silky white bra. Laboured breathing competed with stifled moans and whimpers. Then Richard’s discarded white shirt joined the pile. His pair of pants with leather belt still in the waist loop dropped with a thud followed by very soft swishes of undergarments being peeled away from their heated bodies…
To my dear readers
Again, thank you for your support and comments. Since July 2013, I have enjoyed interacting with you, initially through the Excess Baggage site, then in my own wordpress blogsite and via facebook. In the next few months, I shall be tied up with many things so this blogsite will be quiet for a spell.
To my invaluable critical reviewers and proofreaders
I am truly indebted to Ms Alpha Grace, Ms Liza, and Ms Dianne. And I hope to continue working with you ladies in future projects.
Very truly yours