Mula sa loob ng kaniyang sasakyan ay hindi ko mapigilang mapangiti habang nakasulyap sa labas.
"A coffee shop?" He asked. I nodded and stared at the all-capitalized large letter standees beside the shop's entrance. It says, CUPPYCAT
Renzo pulled the cardoor open for me. The moment I stood beside him, his arms immediately slipped around my waist. Pagtungtong sa entrance ng shop ay agad na dumapo ang tingin sa amin ng mga taong naroon.
Women, which most are way younger than me, were obviously surprised to see us... or should I say, to see the man standing beside me? We're still on our corporate attire and we look really out of place but by the eyes that bore into us, I think they don't mind at all.
Nakarinig pa ko ang ilang usapan at tilian sa mga teenager na nasa gilid. "Ang gwapo!"
Sinamaan ko ng tingin ang mga batang hindi mapakali sa gilid namin. Natahimik naman sila agad at sumimsim na ng sarili nilang mga kape. Sa huli ay napanguso na lamang ako, kung sabagay ako rin e, patay na patay rin sa lalaking ito!
An attendant immediately walked near us. She gave us a wide smile and asked. "Table for two, Ma'am? Sir?"
I nodded. "Yes, please."
Kinagat niya ang pang-ibabang labi habang nagpapacute kay Renzo. "This way, po."
We followed her as she walked inside. I saw few cat shelves attached on the wall while on the floor are mats where the cats sleep and some, play at each other.
Renzo's eyes remained on the cats as we walked and sat. The couch felt so comfortable kaya mabilis akong sumandal habang pinagmamasdan siyang tumingin sa mga pusa.
"Here's our menu, Ma'am. Enjoy your experience here at Cuppycat."
We ordered and handed back the menu. Bumaling ako kay Renzo na natutuwa habang nakatitig sa mga pusa. In the eyes of the public, he's a cold man who only thinks about business. Kung hindi lang gwapo, baka mas mauna pa siyang katakutan kaysa kakiligan.
Sa mga ambush interview sa kaniya noon at mga appearance sa mga social gatherings, lagi niyang dala dala ang seryoso at hindi natitinag na tingin. His eyes will make you feel that no matter what you do, hindi ka niya mapapansin unless you'll talk about business. But I know, inside this cold beast is a simple heart who admires cats.
"You like cats, right?"
He shrugged but my smiled grew wider, ayaw niyang aminin. "And I like photography.. so I guess it's a good combination."
His brows shot up. "Combination?"
I pointed my finger on a huge blackboard where random pictures are attached. "As you enjoy your cup of coffee, you capture this moment with those cats. Plus, they're pretty cute."
Dumapo ang tingin ko sa isang puting Persian cat na may suot na pink collar at nakatitig sa amin. When our order was served, we enjoyed a few sip bago ko siya inaya na lumapit sa mga pusa.
"Don't you think we're too old for this?"
I thought he's irritated but when I looked at him, he's actually shy! I chuckled and looked around. Everyone is watching us and I even caught one of the teenagers taking picture of him, nang magkatinginan kami ay agad niyang ibinaba ang hawak na cellphone.
Bumaling akong muli kay Renzo. "Come on, it's fun! Plus, I know you still miss Siti."
Siti is his pet cat. She's pusang pinoy but Renzo loved her like she an expensive breed. He sat down on one of the couches while I went to the cat shelves and took the white Persian cat. In her collar is a gold pendant with her name carved on it.
Agad akong naupo sa tabi ni Renzo at inabot sa kaniya ang pusa. "Her name is Genie."
He stared at the cat. "He's a male."
Ngumiso ako habang nagpipigil ng ngisi. "Sorry, my bad." He chuckled and played with the cat. An attendant handed me an instant camera. "Enjoy capturing, Ma'am."
I smiled and nodded. "Thank you."
As Renzo played with the cat, I took pictures of him. "Genie, grant my wishes now.." I can't help but to smile as I watched him talk seriously with the cat.
"Hmm. Make this woman beside me.. stay forever."
My smile faded as I watch him seriously stare at the cat. Tila may kung anong natunaw sa puso ko habang nag-iinit na ang aking mata. The man I always dreamed to be with is now wishing for me to stay forever.. Can you believe it?
In the end, I couldn't help but to smile as I waited for the film to slide out from the camera.
"My second wish.. she has a quite short temper so make her punch feel less painful." He leaned forward and whispered at the cat's ear. "She has a habit of hurting me."
I laughed hard and shook my head. "You're exaggerating, Renzo."
I took few more picture of him before I heard his last wish..
"Lastly, tell Siti that I already found my true love and she's incredibly beautiful."
Tuluyan nag nangilid ang luha ko lalo na nang bumaling siya sa akin. Marahan niya akong hinalikan sa noo habang sa likod namin ay naririnig ko ang impit na tilian. Well.. he's mine girls. Sorry na lang.
I picked out the best picture I took of him and attached it on the board. We both stared at his picture as he gently pulled me close. "Did you enjoy our date?"
I nodded. I can still feel my face flushing. He gazed at me and let out a soft chuckle. "We just finished our first date but I'm already excited for the next one."
We headed back to OC after our date. The paper works piled up dahil sa mga nangyari nitong nakaraang araw so I let him work while I reviewed some proposal.
Kusa akong napangiti habang iniisip kung gaano kami kaseryoso sa ginagawa. Ganito rin kami noon. Sabay na magbabasa sa library, walang kumikibo pero parehong masaya sa presensya ng isa't isa.
We attended few meetings for the rest of the day. Minsan ay magkasama sa iisang meeting, minsan naman ay magkahiwalay. It was a tiring day but because of our date earlier, nothing is able to ruin my mood.
Kinabukasan ay maaga akong nagising. Siguro ay dahil sa sobrang gaan ng tulog ko kagabi kaya hindi ako napuyat. Agad kong napansin ang isang bouquet ng mga pulang rosas sa lamp table.
Mabilis akong napangiti at lumapit para kunin ang maliit na card. "As beautiful as my baby." I bit my lower lip and stopped myself from smiling. Ang aga aga, Wendy!
After preparing, I visited my father in his room. Tulala siya at hindi napansin ang paglapit ko. "Dad?" Tiningala niya ako at saka tipid na ngumiti.
"Are you okay, Dad?"
He nodded and rested his palm on my arm. "I'm fine. Are you going somewhere?"
I smiled. "I have a date with, Renzo."
He sighed and smiled too. "The man's been waiting for you for years now.. go get him."
Kusa akong napangiti sa suportang naririnig sa aking ama. Tumango ako at hinaplos ang kaniyang balikat. "We should get some exercise tomorrow morning. Maybe we can jog outside."
Tumango siya. "You should get going, then." Hinalikan ko siya sa pisngi at nagtungo na sa pinto. Bago ko ito maisara ay saglit ko siyang sinulyapan.
Agad na nabura ang kaniyang ngiti at nabalot ang lungkot ang kaniyang mukha. I sighed and closed the door. The torment of losing the love of your life does not really fade that easy. Ni hindi ko mailagay ang sarili ko sa sitwasyon niya dahil hindi kayang tanggapin ng utak ko ang posibilidad na mawawalang muli si Renzo sa akin.
Sa garahe ng mansyon, Renzo is patiently waiting outside his car. He's wearing a pair of black jeans and a simple white shirt but he can still emanate a powerful and sensual aura. The veins showing on his arm gave him a very manly look.. plus the thin stubble on his jaw.. very manly.
Nang matanaw ako ay dumiretso siya ng tayo at lumapit. He kissed me on my forehead, on my nose and down to my lips. "Good morning." He whispered with our lips are still touching.
Hindi talaga ako masasanay. Sa bawat halik at haplos niya'y naghaharumentado ang puso ko. Ang magaganda niyang mata ay masyadong nakakaakit.. kaya sa tuwing lumalapit siya ng ganito ay halos ayaw ko na siyang malayo pa. "Good morning."
I looked around the glared at the guards who are shamelessly staring at us. Renzo chuckled and sniffed on my hair.
Saglit kong tinitigan ang malaking gate ng dati naming eskwelahan. Marthamonica's huge gate is surrounded by guards and students who go in and out of the campus. Summer pero siguradong may mga iilang estuyanteng narito na nag-enroll ng tri-sem curriculum.
The guards greeted us as we entered a smaller gate. Pairs of eyes immediately tailed us. Some girls are surprised by my height as they looked up on me and smiled.
And of course, it's impossible for Renzo not to be noticed. Even with simple clothes, he can make these women fall in love in just a blink of an eye.
His massive built is way more extreme and rough compared to the boys passing by. Everyone is in awe as they watch him walk with sense of dominance.
I looked at the group of teenage girls who screamed when Renzo's eyes landed on them.
"He looked at me! Did you see it?!"
Kaysa mainis ay napangiti na lamang ako. "Shall I start a fan club for you?"
He smiled and shook his head. Mas lalong nagtilian ang mga nakatingin. "He smiled! Oh my gosh, where's my underwear?"
We stopped walking and stared at the huge soccer field.
"The girl he's with. Have you seen her huge photo in the Dean's office? She's a Feriol! She financed the construction of one of Marthamonica's buildings years ago."
"Oh.. that's why she's so familiar."
Mabilis na bumaling sa akin si Renzo at bumulong.. "Is it true?"
I pouted and gentle nodded. He smiled and held my hand tighter. "So noble.." He kissed me on my forehead bago ako iginiya kung saan habang nawawala sa aming pandinig ang tilian ng mga babae.
Napangiti na lamang ako nang pumasok kami sa library. Isang librarian at dalawang estudyante lamang ang narito. Nang makita ako ng librarian ay agad siyang tumayo at bahagyang yumuko. "Miss Feriol! We are not informed that you'll pay a visit."
I smiled and glanced at the man beside me. "I am not informed as well."
Ngumiti ang librarian sa aming dalawa at saka tumango. "We were told that this library is your safe haven when you are still in College, so please enjoy your visit, it's very quiet and maintained."
Bumaling siya kay Renzo. "Enjoy your visit, Sir." Her voice is now extra soft.
Tumango si Renzo at hinila na ako. Dinala niya ako sa dulo ng dalawang magkatapat na shelf. "What are we doing here?"
Nilingon ko ang paligid. Hindi na namin tanaw ang dalawang nagbabasa kanina sa mga lamesang nasa malayo.
Umatras siya ng bahagya at ngumiti. "Since last night, I tried to recall all my memories with you. This, I'm pretty sure, is where I first saw you in this campus."
Kusa na rin akong napangiti habang inililibot ang aking paningin. "Oo nga.."
Lumapit siya at hinarap ako sa bintanang nasa likuran ko. As he hugged me from behind, it felt like we were back to that good old days. Ang mga araw na simple lang ang buhay.. Wala kaming ibang iniintindi kundi pag-aaral at ang isa't-isa lamang. Walang kumpaniya na kailangang panatilihin at walang kamag-anak na kailangang talunin.
Sumandal ako sa kaniyang dibdib habang nakatanaw kami sa malawak na soccer field sa labas.
"I can't believe that you made me fall in love at such young age." I whispered.
He caressed his cheek against my head. Dahan dahan niya akong iniharap sa kaniya. I gasped when he pulled me close and kissed me softly.
"Renzo, we're at the library!" My tone of voice is quite high pero pinilit kong hinaan ito. I chuckled and slapped his chest. He gave me another deep kiss and all I can do is to give in.. his touch and expert lips made me lose all my control.. I can't believe we're making out in the library!
He bit my lower lip before pulling himself away. I think that's a five minute french kissing and now we're running out of breath! Mas lalong nag-init ng mukha ko habang nakanguso. Hindi pa rin makakaahon sa nakalulunod na pakiramdam.
He smiled and hugged me tight. "Sorry if I forgot to do exciting things like this with you. Our relationship back then is quite dull."
Kumalas ako sa yakap niya at tiningala siya. "It's not dull at all.. our simple dates are enough for me.. We're still young that time, I understand now why you need to focus more on your studies."
Pumungay ang kaniyang mga mata.. "You were still young back then and young girls like you.. would want an exciting relationship. Why did you choose to settle with me?"
A lump formed in my throat as I hugged him. "Should I have not?"
He hugged me tighter and kissed me on my head. "I'm sorry for breaking up with you. I was a coward."
Pumikit ako ng mariin para mapigilan ang pagtulo ng luha ko. "The journey to be with you is painfully hard.."
I buried my face on his chest as sobs escape my mouth. Sunod sunod na ang pagtulo ng luha ko habang nakayakap siya sa akin. Ang lahat ng pagod at sakit na naranasan ko... ngayon ko lang ibinuhos.
Marahan niyang hinaplos ang aking buhok habang ang nakayakap pa rin siya sa akin.. "Cry it all.. you're home now, baby.."
Home.. Yes.. his embrace is my home.
After few minutes.. he pulled away and gently wiped my tears. I met his gaze and I can clearly see determination in his eyes. "There will be no pain and tragedy that can take you away from me again. I will fight with all I have just to make you stay.." He pulled me for another kiss and I let my heart filled with only joy and content.. releasing all the pain, doubts and regrets.
The journey to be here with him is really painfully hard but if that means being with him in the end, I'll take all the heartbreaks until we're finally together.