The Touch (16)

Chapter 16

Dr. Ed Buenavista left Maya’s office in a very optimistic mood. Maya just finished her session with him, going over the plans for his first social mixer in the next few days.

He joined Kinnect after his recent relationship fell apart, again, due to incompatibility so he decided to give Maya’s company a try, especially as he trusts Maya’s judgment and ethics.

Maya was quite happy to sign up her vet friend, and vowed to find a good match for him. She already has identified in her mind, a few good selection of potential matches and somehow, she knows that she woudn’t have much problem finding a woman who would want to date him.

“Okay ka lang ba diyan, sister?” Sabel asked, poking her head inside Maya’s office.

Maya forced a smile and looked up as Sabel strolled into her office. “Oo naman.”

“Si Dr. Buenavista ba ‘yung nakita kong kagagaling lang dito? Ang pogi-pogi talaga ng doktor na ‘yun. Halos malaglag nga ang panty ko nung interviewhin ko siya for his makeover.” Sabel winked mischievously.

“Ikaw talaga Sabel, puro ka kalokohan.”

“Totoo naman, e. Super guwapo. Di ba nagparamdam sa iyo yan noon? Wala ka ba talagang nararamdaman para sa kanya, sister? Baka naman meron kahit konti. Malay mo, baka siya talaga ang ultimate soulmate mo. Perhaps if you still have the touch, you will also experience with him the jolt of recognition.”

Maya gave Sabel a non-committal smile. She really didn’t want to talk about her soulmate these days. She still didn’t know if her gift of touch is back after following her mother’s advice and bravely admitted her feelings to Richard. Although it didn’t turn out the way she would have liked, she didn’t regret confessing her feelings to him because it set her free. Yes, it broke her heart, but at least she can say that she’d been true to herself and to her beliefs.

As for Ed Buenavista, Maya knew long ago that he wasn’t the man for her. Touch or no, she simply didn’t feel anything remotely resembling romantic for him. Instead, what she feels for him is strong friendship just like how she feels for her other close friends.

“Hay naku, Sabel, time-off muna talaga ako sa mga ganun. Besides, Ed is really just a good friend to me and I don’t feel anything more than that. Maiba ako, darating ba si Rafi ngayon?”

“Uh-huh. Paparating na yun ngayon. She’s ready to go back out there, so I wanted to sit down with her for a one-on-one. Sayang at salbahe naman pala ang Brian na ‘yun.”

“Oo nga, pero wala tayong magagawa. Occupational hazard, I guess. Still, I’m proud of her. She seems much stronger in who she is and didn’t let this affect her inner core.”

“Kasi, I had good teachers.”

Maya laughed as Rafi appeared behind Sabel and gave her a hug. Rafi had definitely blossomed. She accepted the breakup and her emotions, and healed quickly. Now she was excited about the possibility of a new journey, and this time Sabel would probably screen even more carefully.

“Kumusta ka na, Maya?” Rafi asked.

“I’m good.”

The two women shared a look. Maya fought a sigh. She’d been asked that question every day for the past two weeks and her answer never changed. Still, her friends knew it was a big, fat lie. Since that day she lost Richard, she walked around empty, her usually chirpy and positive vibes obviously dampened. She buried herself in work, stayed home with Bobby most nights, and tried to believe it would get better. Someday.

Rafi had become a close friend of the group and now joined them for Friday nights at Tapas. Maya was glad she never mentioned her brother or asked any questions. “Sinong gustong lumabas mamayang gabi?” Rafi asked. “I finished my research paper and would love to celebrate.”

Sabel gave a whoop. “You go, girl. Of course we’ll go. But first mag-usap muna tayong dalawa, girlfriend, so we can go over a few things. I think I have a great guy for you to meet.”

Their heels clicked down the hallway, and Maya stared at the stack of folders on her desk. Funny, the last few months her client list had almost doubled. The expo probably helped, and everyone had adjusted well to double their efforts now that she had lost her gift.

She wondered if Richard missed her. Wondered if he got the partnership. Wondered if he ever thought of calling her or had already moved on.

The bell tinkled and there was a knock on her door. She smiled as Charlie peeked in. “Hey, Maya, puwede ba kitang makausap sandali?”

“Of course.” She waved him in. “Kumusta yung date mo noong Biyernes?”

Charlie sat in the chair and shrugged. He was one of her favorite clients and really wished she’d be able to match him correctly. Charlie was extremely shy before he joined Kinnect and he hasn’t really completely overcome his shyness which make him a bit awkward sometimes specially when on a date. However, his physical features more than make up for it. He had gorgeous laughing eyes and thick black hair, and his wicked sense of humor, once he’s overcome his initial shyness, always made her laugh. He wasn’t flashy, or broody, or a bad boy. He was just literally nice, with a great personality. Time to work harder.

“She was sweet, but I don’t think we were a good fit. She likes gym and into body-building, and although we had a great conversation, I kind of caught her looking at the hot waiter.”

Maya shook her head, remembering her own date from hell that she’d hooked up with the waiter. “Sometimes this sucks, huh? Pero huwag kang mag-gi-give-up, Charlie. I think I have a better idea of who to match you with.”

“I’m no quitter. Hey, at least I get to date a bunch of cool women and eat out. Dati, puro tv remote lang ang ka-date ko bago ako nag-join sa Kinnect.”

Point taken.

The door flung open. “Maya, paalis na ako. I’ll see you at Tapas—oh, I’m sorry to interrupt.” Rafi smiled at Charlie. “Hi, Charlie, good to see you again.”

Charlie grinned. “You too. Getting hooked up again?”

Rafi laughed. “I guess we’re two peas in a pod, huh?”

Maya rose from the chair and Rafi walked into the room. “Did Sabel take care of you?”

“Yep. We may try a social mixer. I may be ready.”

“Sounds good.”

Charlie stood and paused in front of her. “I’m sorry the last guy didn’t work out for you,” he said. He stared at her hard, a smile curving his lips. “He must’ve been really stupid.”

“Aww, thanks. Same with you, not sure why you’d be in here again.”

Maya turned to give them some space to continue the conversation, and her hands brushed against the both of them.




Her skin burned and an electrical shock cut through her system, causing her to jerk back. Holding her breath, Maya stared at them, her heart pounding so hard she swore they’d hear it. But they didn’t. They were looking at each other and the energy simmered like a live wire around them.

Oh. My. God.

The touch was back.

Maya tried to remain cool, though she felt like she just stuck her hands in a bucket of ice water. She’d forgotten what a jolt it could be when she sensed a connection, but she wanted to throw her head back and laugh with joy.

“Hey, Charlie. Lalabas kami nina Rafi mamayang gabi, magkikita-kita kami sa Tapas. Sama ka naman sa amin.”

“Oh, I don’t want to intrude on ladies’ night out.”

Rafi shook her head and touched his arm. “No, come. It’ll be fun.”

“Cool. I’d love to.”

Maya tamped down on a giggle as she watched them make moony eyes at each other. “I better get back to work. I’ll walk you out.”

“See you later.”

She watched them chatter easily and the door shut behind them.


Maya went home early that afternoon in order to have a bit more time with Bobby before she meet up with her friends at Tapas.She went through the motions of her usual routine when she comes home: Let Bobby out, feed him, have a snack and relax in her recliner either with a book or watch dvd. She really didn’t have time to watch and finish a dvd so she went to her bookshelf to find a book that she could read while cuddling with Bobby and to while away the time before she goes to Tapas.

As she selected a book, her finger suddenly got a jolt of a strong electric current not unlike the one she gets when she feels a connection from soulmates. She looked at what caused it and was surprised to find that it was the purple Book of Spells. She then remembered the spell she cast not long ago, following the steps laid out in the book. She smiled sadly at the memory as she shook her head then picked up a different book from the bookshelf to read.

When she turned her back on the bookshelf, she didn’t see the strange glow that emanated from the purple book.


Their night out at Tapas was turning really well for Rafi and Charlie. They were on the dance floor, enjoying each other’s company unmindful of their surroundings. They’ve been inseparable since meeting up at Kinnect office earlier that day and Charllie picked up Rafi that night on their way to Tapas to meet up with the rest of the group.

Liza also joined them that night. She’d been making a conscious effort to be around Maya as often as possible, to lend her support since learning of what happened with her friend and Richard. This has become a regular source of disagreement between her and James, because the latter didn’t want his girlfriend to spend time on what he calls “useless stuff”. James categorically told her not to go out with Maya and her group that night, even issued an ultimatum that if Liza will defy him, he’ll call off their relationship. But Liza stood her ground and defied him anyway. She called her other best friend, Joma, to join them too.

“Hi Liza. Kanina pa ba kayo dito?” Joma asked as he strolled to the table where the group of friends were drinking and sat next to Liza.

“Hello Joma. No, kararating lang din namin halos.” Liza replied.

“Hindi mo yata kasama si James?

“Hindi. To be honest, ayaw niyang pumunta ako ngayong gabi. In fact, come to think of it, marami siyang gustong ipagbawal including my relationship with my friends and even with my own sister. I’ve had enough. We’re finished.”

Maya was surprised at her friend’s sudden outburst then she noticed the intense way Joma was looking at Liza. A sudden realization hit her. She became aware of a swirl of energy around them, much like the one she felt earlier that day in her office with Rafi and Charlie but it couldn’t have come from them as they are still on the dancefloor, oblivious to their surroundings.

‘Hmm, interesting’ she thought. She gave in to her hunch and went behind Joma and Liza, put her left and right index fingers behind each of the two friends, touching them surreptitiously.




For the third time that day, an electric shock jolted her and she looked at her best friend and Joma with renewed interest. The two were still looking at each other intently and Maya understood that they needed to have a long talk to sort things out for themselves. Somehow, she was not surprised that this happened because deep within, she knew that her best friend and her boyfriend James are not really a good fit for each other. She felt relieved and happy for her bestfriend.

Tears pricked her lids as she sank into the chair. Somehow, she’d been lucky enough to receive her gift back, and she would never take it for granted again. The image of Richard flashed before her. God, she missed him. She wondered what he was doing right now.

Maya rubbed her eyes, tried to re-focus, and got back to her present surroundings.


He was in hell.

Richard stared out the window, trapped another day in his office. Two weeks. Everyday is getting worse. He’d already pulled out of Kinnect but he still goes to Tagaytay almost every night, sometimes in the guise of visiting Rafi but really, he feels the need to get a glimpse of Maya everyday, even surreptitiously like a stalker. He tried not to pump Rafi for information, knowing that if he heard she was dating, he might lose his sanity, although he thinks he already has, eversince he learned from Rafi that Dr. Buenavista, Bobby’s vet, has recently joined Kinnect. This made him very agitated, resulting in him going to Tagaytay almost every night to check if Maya is at home which she was, to his immense relief. Though why, he had no idea. After all, he’d already made a decision hadn’t he?

He kept waiting to feel a sense of satisfaction that he’d done the right thing and released her. Tried to convince himself he was strong for being honest about his limitations and not wanting to wound her. But the inner Ted voice was back, cackling with glee and mockery.

She confessed her love and you threw it back in her face. You’re a pussy and a coward. And alone.

Shut up. Better to hurt her now than later.

What did you really think could happen?

Anything. Perhaps not cheating. Probably not betrayal. And Maya didn’t lie. But they could grow apart. Maybe careers could take a toll. Fighting. Of course, fighting with Maya was fun, and making up was even better. No, things happened in good relationships all the time, especially if one embraced the idea of love and forever.

Like I said, you’re a pussy and a coward.

He shut the box on his crazy mental companion and tried not to think about her but he couldn’t help it. He wondered what she was doing right now. Is she talking to Dr. Buenavista? Is she going through with the vet the same thing she went through with him, when he joined Kinnect? Would she experience an electric jolt with him too? Would ‘the touch’ tell her now that Dr. Buenavista is her soulmate?  ‘Surely not!’ He told himself a bit too forcefully. If the touch is real, she will only have one soulmate and that is him. He caught himself with the thought and realized that he indeed, has officially lost his mind.

The intercom buzzed. “Mr. Lim, your three o’clock is here.”

“Send her in. Thank you.”

He straightened his jacket and eased back to lawyer mode. The woman who entered his office was easily in her seventies, with short graying hair and dressed in a polyester maxi dress with old lady shoes. Her smile was kind and generous, and she greeted him in a soothing voice and a firm handshake. Richard prepped himself, sensing this would be a bad one. Maybe her husband going for the younger woman? Blowing through their retirement? Sleeping with the maid?

“Mrs. Sandoval, it’s a pleasure to meet you. I know you said you were filing for a legal separation, and I’m very sorry for your troubles. Would you share some of the details with me?”

She eased back into the chair with a serene air that puzzled him. “Of course, thank you for seeing me on such short notice, Attorney Lim. You’ve helped some friends I know and they spoke very highly of your reputation. Matagal na kaming kasal ng asawa ko, forty years, at may apat kaming anak. I’m seeking a legal separation for now so he can be free for a while to explore.”

He fought a frown and flipped through the folder where he’d made previous notes. “I see this is uncontested. What brought about the separation? If he’s threatening you or been unfaithful, I can make sure you’re protected.”

Her laugh tinkled in the air with merriment. “Naku iho, hindi. He’s never cheated. We’ve had a wonderful life together, pero gusto niyang mag-travel. Maglibot sa buong mundo. You see, we married young and with the children and the difficulty in saving money, we didn’t have much time to do anything. Charles always dreamed of traveling and having adventures. I preferred the home life, so he compromised throughout our entire marriage. We raised our kids, paid off our house, and saved for college, then retirement. Pero ngayon, ayaw niya akong iwanan. We’ve fought about it, but he refuses to listen. Gusto kong magawa niya ang matagal na niyang gustong gawin. I want him to go and have his adventures, even if it’s without me. It’s his turn, you see, so the only way is to get a legal separation.”

Richard had heard some crazy stories, but this one caused his mind to blank. He tried to make sense of her words. “Pasensiya na kayo, Mrs. Sandoval, pero I’m struggling to understand. Your husband did nothing wrong, yet you want to file papers separating with him. Bakit?”

“Para malaya niyang magawa ang mga bagay na matagal na niyang guston gawin kahit hindi ako kasama. Alam kong mahal niya ako, wala akong pagdududa doon pero gusto kong maging lubos ang kanyang kasiyahan sa pamamagitan ng pagpupursige niya sa matagal na niyang pangarap na pagta-travel around the world. He’s given me joy for the past forty years, compromising to be what I needed. Now it’s his turn. The only way is to set him free. Kung gusto niyang makipagbalikan sa akin pagdating niya at pagkatapos ng kanyang adventure, makikipagbalikan ako.”

He cleared his throat and tapped his pen against the desk. “This is an odd request. I’ve never counseled anyone on legal matters when they’re happy and satisfied with their spouse.”

“It must seem strange to some. You see, love is a funny thing. There are no guarantees, just the day-to-day and the moment. You make vows, hope for the best, and do your damnedest to love the person you’re with. We struggled through childhood cancer with my son, two miscarriages, and my daughter’s marital problems. But it always came back to us. Do you understand?”

Richard struggled with the pieces of her story. “No. You went through all that and now you want to separate? How was that possibly worth it? Paano kung umalis siya, at pagbalik niya ay ayaw na niyang makipagbalikan sa inyo? Then this whole thing would’ve been for nothing.” Anger cut through him, raw and angry. “If he gave you so much, why won’t you go with him? What about your sacrifice? Isn’t he worth it?”

She leaned over the desk and clasped his hand within hers. Richard flinched, startled by her touch and the strength in her slightly gnarled hands. Her brown eyes were filled with peace and knowledge. “May taning na ang buhay ko, Attorney. Gustong-gusto kong samahan siya, to be by his side while he finally sees the world. But I can’t, and if I tell him, he’ll never leave. I can’t live with that knowledge. So, I will let him go, and when he returns, I’ll give him the truth. But not before he gets what he needs.”

Shock held him immobile. His heart beat faster. She continued speaking, her voice warm. “The possibility of love is worth everything, Attorney Lim. Pain, heartbreak, grief. It is the only thing worthwhile to fight for in this life. And though there are never any promises nor guarantees, if one is true and brave enough to give, there will never be regret. If I lost my husband tomorrow, I would be heartbroken, yes, but I’d never regret or change any of my decisions. And I’ve experienced the type of love that transcends death. A love worth sacrifice and someone else’s happiness. My goodness, what are the alternatives? To be safe but alone? That’s not a life; that’s just an existence.”

His hand trembled. The realization crashed over him, dragged him through the rocky, watery sand, and threw him into the icy waves.

So stupid. He’d fallen in love for the first time in his life and thrown it away because it didn’t come with a signed contract of success. He set himself up for a life alone when he could have Maya in his bed, her laughter in his ears, and her body under his. He held himself above all others like God and pitied the world for being beneath him.

Yet, he was the one to be pitied. And it might be too late.

“Mrs. Sandoval, pasensiya na kayo but I have to go. Like, right now.”

She blinked, pulled her hand away, and nodded. “I understand. Good luck, Attorney Lim. Will you file the papers?”

“Yes. I’m sorry. I’ll be in touch.”

He raced out of his office, knowing what he needed to do.


Maya drove home from Tapas, the full moon in the sky ripe and glistening with an orange light that shimmered like magic. Rafi and Charlie had hooked up at Tapas and barely said a word to anyone else in the place. Likewise, Liza and Joma had their heads close together most of the evening, silly smiles on their faces, Maya sensed the relationship of both couples would proceed rapidly, but this time it would be okay. They were simply meant to be together.

Her heart ached, but she’d gotten used to it, pushing her way through the days and nights on automatic pilot. She pulled up to her house, grabbed her bag, and walked toward the door. In her head she was already playing out what she’ll be doing: Let Bobby out, a quick snack, and a dvd of the new Wilson-Vaughn movie. Probably not as good as Crashers, but if it gave her a chuckle she’d call it a success.

She entered the living room and stopped cold.

Her bag fell from her grip.


Richard stood before her. Bobby sat by his side, not moving to greet her, his body shaking with enthusiasm but refusing to break rank. Maya fought confusion and wondered if she was hallucinating. “A-a-anong ginagawa mo dito? W-w-where’s your car?”

“I parked it up the street. I was afraid you wouldn’t come inside if you saw it.”

“P-p-paano kang nakapasok?”

“Naawa sa akin si Doris. Said she keeps your key in case you need help with Bobby.”

Bobby panted as if waiting for the big reveal. Maya shook her head, her emotions too raw and bloody to fight. “P-p-please don’t do this to me,” she whispered. “I c-c-c—” Frustrated, her stutter took over and shut down her brain and her calm. The words got stuck in her throat, refusing to emerge, and her body shook for control. He waited her out, not interrupting, not trying to finish her sentence, and finally the inner music and calm broke through the block. “I can’t do this anymore.”

“I know. I won’t. I’ll never do anything to hurt you again, Maya. I just want you to listen to me, though I don’t deserve shit from you. Not after what I pulled.”

Bobby wiggled his chest, then settled.

“I wasn’t prepared for you, for what I felt. My entire life and career all I’ve known is not to get stuck in the endless cycle of broken relationships I see day in and day out. I thought I was smart and honest and real by denying them. But I was stupid and scared instead. I love you. I love you with everything I’ve got, and I’m not going away. This time, I’m going to fight for you, beg for your forgiveness, prove my worth. I’m not going anywhere ever again, until one day you can look into my face and trust me completely. Know that I’m not running and that I want to spend the rest of my life with you.”

The words were too much, and hope shimmered in the distance like a mirage. “Nagbago na naman ang isip mo? Bakit? Are we going to have sex, and then in the morning you decide again that you need to protect me and yourself? How can I trust you?”

He tightened his jaw. “Because I’ll prove it. Starting tonight. I got you a present.”

She covered her eyes with her hands and let out a humorless laugh. “I don’t think flowers and chocolates can fix this, Richard.”

“I know. But maybe this can show what I see for us. Bobby?”

Bobby barked twice and turned. Dragging his legs, she watched him run into the living room and scramble up a ramp, plopping his body on a full recliner. Her mouth dropped open as she gazed at the object. Lower to the ground, the ramp led up to plush cushions that reclined back and supported his rear legs. The bunny lay beside him in tattered remains, his face filled with doggy joy.

“It’s a specialized recliner just for him,” Richard explained. “It’s orthopedic, and has a heat control and his own remote. And this one’s yours.” He pointed to the brand-new leather chair beside Bobby’s. Dark chocolate, soft to the touch, Maya stroked her hand over the backrest while her heart thundered. “Fully equipped with all the buttons you need.”

“You bought me a recliner.” Maya stared at the chair, a symbol of something bigger and deeper than any ring could ever promise. Afraid to break the spell, she noticed the second chair edged up close to the first. “There’s another one.”

“That’s mine.” Her head rotated. Piercing slanted eyes filled with love and determination gazed back into hers. “Because I’m not going anywhere ever again, Maya. I want to sit next to you and watch movies with Bobby. I want to sink between your thighs every day, make you coffee every morning, and cuddle up with you every night, under that ratty afghan with a stocked Blueray player. I want a life with you, a real life, with the day-to-day shit and a partner to share it all with. I love you, Maya Dela Rosa. I think I loved you the moment you electrocuted me and told me to go away. The only question left is, will you give me a chance?”

Joy broke through and flooded the doubts. She looked at the matching recliners, at Bobby’s happy face, and knew she was ready to take her own chance.

“Yes. I love you, Richard. I’m not letting you go again.”

He pulled her in tight and kissed her. Hungry, deep thrusts claimed her as his. The familiar fire hit and heated their blood, softened their muscles, and they melted into one another, surrendering as soul mates.

“No more trying to match me with other women?” he murmured, kissing her cheeks and burying his fingers in her hair.

“You finally met your match, counselor.”

“That I did. Now let’s seal the deal.”

Maya laughed as he scooped her up and walked to the bedroom.


The End



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