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"I might wanna fly like a paper plane but in the end, I'd still choose falling for you..."

Kabanata 26

My mouth parted, mabilis kong tinakbo si Ejercito at ibinaba ang takip n'ya sa bibig.

"L-Lena..." He murmured.

Napuno ng pag-aalala ang puso ko at mabilis na lumuhod para tanggalin ang tali sa kanyang kamay.

"Okay ka lang? Are you hurt?" I asked hurriedly, pilit na tinatanggal ang tali sa kanyang kamay.

"No," He sounded confused. "You?"

"I'm fine," I said, halos nanginginig ang kamay para matanggal ang kanyang tali. Nang makalas ko ang kanyang tali ay mabilis na tinanggal ko rin ang sa paa n'ya.

"What are you doing here, Lena? Bakit ka napunta rito..." He murmured, worried.

Napasinghap ako, mabilis na tinanggal ang tali sa paa n'ya at nang makawala s'ya ng tuluyan ay walang pagdadalawang-isip na niyakap ko s'ya.

He gasped, mariing napapikit ako at napahikbi nang maramdaman ko ang marahan n'yang paghaplos sa likod ko.

"Harriet," He whispered.

"I-I'm worried! Akala ko may nangyaring masama sa'yo!" I gasped and hugged him tightly, I gripped his shirt, ibinaon ko ang mukha ko sa kanyang dibdib at narinig ko ang mabilis n'yang paghinga.

"I'm fine, nothing happened to me." He whispered softly.

"I-I thought..." My voice broke, naramdaman ko ang pag-hawak n'ya sa baywang ko at ang marahang paglayo.

I looked at him and saw him lifting me slowly to sit on the chair where he is tied. Lumuhod s'ya sa harapan ko at sinapo ang pisngi ko.

"Don't cry, I'm alright." He whispered.

Pumikit ako at sumandal sa kamay n'yang nasa pisngi ko, mahina akong humikbi at naramdaman ko ang pagpalis n'ya ng luha sa pisngi ko.

"I-I'm sorry..." I whispered. "I'm really sorry, Jer..."

I saw looking at me softly, nakita ko ang pag-igting ng panga n'ya habang tinatanggal ang luha sa pisngi ko, tila galit sa pag-iyak ko.

"Stop crying," He whispered softly. "Ayokong umiiyak ka."

"I'm sorry..." Bulong ko pang muli.

"Sinong nagdala sa'yo rito?" He asked me when I slowly calmed down, tinulungan ko s'ya sa pag-alis ng luha ko at sinuklay ko ang buhok ko gamit ang daliri ko.

"I-I'm sorry, it's Cess..." I murmured.

Napatitig sa akin si Jer at mamaya ay biglang natawa.

"That woman," He shook his head. "And where's your asshole friend?"

"H-Huh?"

"Where's the fucking Floyd?" He said, annoyed. Umawang ang labi ko at pinagmasdan s'ya at umiling.

"I don't know, I haven't seen him with Cecille. Si Cess ang nagdala sa akin dito."

"Pinagtulungan nila ako," He scoffed and my mouth parted, remembering how he was tied in the chair!

"K-Kaya ka nila?" I murmured.

"I was annoyed and confused because Floyd keeps on trying to tie my hand earlier! Akala ko nagbibiro lang." He scoffed.

"Kanina ka pa nawawala..." I murmured.

"Yes, your asshole of a friend did that! Sinapak ko na nga kasi ang gulo nila ni Cecille, Cess asked if kung tatalian ba raw nila ako ay makakawala ako?"

"Damn it, Cess!" I groaned.

"Then suddenly, she vanished, biglang bumalik at nagsisisigaw na nawawala ka raw. I p-panicked," He cleared his throat and I bit my lip.

"Sumunod ako, nagmamadali. Cecille is a hell of an actress! Dapat nag-artista nalang iyon dahil dalang-dala ako!" Reklamo n'ya. "Tumapat ako sa kwarto and Floyd came from nowhere and fucking let me sleep."

"P-Paano?" I asked.

"They made me smell something," Ngiwi n'ya.

Napapikit ako ng mariin at napailing bago s'ya pinagmasdan.

"Ayos ka lang ba? Baka nakakahilo 'yung pinaamoy nila sa'yo, are you dizzy?" I asked him worriedly and lifted his face to check for any scratches.

Nag-antay ako ng sagot sa kanya pero tagong ngiti lang ang nakita ko.

"Jer," I murmured.

"Huh? Uhm, yeah." He swallowed hard. "I'm good, I should ask you that since you cried."

"Ayos lang ako," I murmured. "I'm sorry if I was overreacting and cried, I-I was just worried."

"I'm fine, hmm?" He lifted his hand and placed my hair behind my ear.

"Paano ba naman kasi, Cess told me I should hurry habang buhay ka pa!" I hissed.

He froze then suddenly laughed, shaking his head.

"That woman, now I know why she's so weird today." He shook his head. "I mean, dati pa s'yang weirdo but she's in the maximum level now."

"Kasi may kakampi! Si Floyd!" I scoffed.

He chuckled a bit and nodded, muli n'yang tinanggal ang luha sa pisngi ko na medyo natuyo na rin naman.

"Ayos lang ako," Bulong ko at ngumiti. "Salamat."

He nodded and sighed, nang tumayo s'ya mula sa pagkakaluhod ay sumulyap s'ya sa madilim na kwarto. I stood, humawak ako sa kanyang braso at mabilis n'yang kinuha ang kamay ko sa braso n'ya paalis.

My heart hurt, akala ko'y galit s'ya sa ginawa ko pero ibinaba n'ya lang ang kamay ko para hawakan kaya bumilis ang kabog ng puso ko.

I lifted my gaze at him and my heart pounded more.

"What are we gonna do, then?" He murmured.

Sa siwang ng liwanag ay kita ko ang suot n'yang damit, he's wearing a black shirt, jacket and maong pants.

"We can check the door?" I whispered.

Sumulyap s'ya sa akin at tumango kaya nanguna na akong maglakad habang hawak ang kamay n'ya at sinubukang pihitin ang seradura ng pinto pero hindi ko mabuksan.

Bumitaw ako kay Jer nang subukan n'yang buksan ang pintuan pero bigo s'ya. I looked around the room and noticed it was a concrete one, may maliit na siwang nga lang kaya may liwanag pa rin kahit papano sa sa kwarto. Mukhang storage room ata ito.

Jer tried to force the door but to no avail, he can't.

I sighed, napailing ako roon at nang wala talagang nangyari ay lumapit ako at marahang inabot ang braso n'ya.

"It's alright, let's not force it." I said.

He looked at me and I saw his forehead creased.

"No, you have to go out here." He said. "You can't sleep in this dirty room."

I looked around and noticed it was quite dirty but...it's alright.

"It's tolerable," I murmured.

"Baka may lamok," Aniya.

"Ayos lang,"

"Paano kapag may ipis? It is a storage room, there's probably some cockroach here, I know you hate it so much." He said.

Humalukipkip ako roon at tinitigan s'ya.

"Ganoon mo ba ako ayaw makasama dito?" I asked quietly.

He froze then sighed.

"I-I just thought you can't stand being alone here with me." He whispered.

Nagkatinginan kaming dalawa at ako na ang tumikhim at sumulyap sa kanya.

"I was never afraid of being alone with you," I said. "And I want to talk to you, that's if...you want to talk to me."

Nanatili s'yang nakatitig, tila naninimbang sa reaksyon.

"S-Sorry, kasi...hindi ko natawagan ang secretary mo para sana sa meeting." I said weakly. "I-I know your busy to talk to me, pero gusto ko sanang magbakasakali."

Sumulyap ako sa kanya at nakita kong nakasandal na s'ya sa pintuan at pinagmamasdan ako.

"Yun ay kung gusto mo, I mean, I will understand kung ayaw mo akong kausapin pero...sana pagbigyan mo ako."

He just looked at me, his brow raised a bit and licked his lower lip.

"Gaano mo ako kagusto?" He asked.

"Huh?" I blinked.

"I mean, kausapin. Gaano mo ako kagusto kausapin?" He asked and cleared his throat.

I bit my lip and looked at him in the eye.

"Sobra...sobrang-sobra." I murmured and place my hand together and look at him. "Please?"

He stared at me for a while, kita kong tinitignan ang reaksyon ko kaya halos magpaawa ako.

"Please, Jer? Please..." I murmured.

He looked at me and a smile plastered my face when he nodded at me.

"Kailan ba kita natiis?" He murmured kaya napangisi ako roon.

"Thank you!" I cheered.

He nodded and smiled a bit, naglakad s'ya papunta kung saan at pinagmasdan ko lang s'ya. I saw him looking for something hanggang sa nakita kong may nahanap s'yang lampara.

He lit it and placed it somewhere near us to give light to the room, mabuti nalang rin at malamig ang gabi, may pumapasok na hangin rin sa siwang sa may kisame kaya hindi kami namroblema sa init.

Nakatayo lang ako sa likuran n'ya habang may inaayos s'ya. Hawak ko ang kamay ko, I keep on pinching my fingers to stop myself from being too nervous to talk to him.

It's my time now, to prove to him my love...kahit na mukhang impossibleng maramdaman n'ya sa kabila ng mga nagawa ko.

"We can sit here," He said, showing me the side of the room where we can rest.

I nodded and took a glance, nakita kong nilinis n'ya ang parte na 'yun at naglatag ng karton para upuan.

"Thank you," I said softly. He nodded, inilahad n'ya ang kamay kaya tinanggap ko iyon at marahang umupo.

Hindi pa s'ya natinag, nagtanggal pa s'ya ng kalat roon at pinagmasdan ko lang s'ya ng tahimik.

"Naghapunan ka na?" I asked him.

He nodded, bahagyang sumulyap sa akin at kinuha ang karton na malaki sa may tabi ko at inilayo.

Hindi na rin s'ya nagsalita pagkatapos, he gave me dinner earlier before he was gone, pagkatapos ko kumain ay nag-asikaso ako ng pagkain ng volunteers kaya hindi ko kaagad s'ya napansing nawawala.

When he was done, I saw him stared at me briefly before clearing this throat.

"Can I sit beside you?" He asked.

"Yes!" I nodded. "Oo naman."

He nodded, tumikhim at marahang lumapit sa akin kaya bahagya akong umusog para bigyan s'ya ng pwesto sa tabi ko.

Our shoulders touched, nagkatinginan kami roon at kaagad na kumalabog ang puso ko.

Umayos s'ya ng upo, niyakap ko ang tuhod ko at sumulyap sa kanya.

"So..." He started and glance at me.

I licked my lip and sighed heavily.

"I...just wanted to apologize." I started. "Doon sa nakaraan, 'yung kay Augustine..."

He looked at me briefly, I saw his jaw clenched a bit but then didn't even commented.

"I walked out from your mansion kasi akala ko ay may relasyon kayo ni Emily."

"She isn't my girlfriend, Leona." He said timidly.

"I know," I nodded and hugged my knees tighter.

"Nasa utak ko 'nun ay...kung sakaling kayo nga, ayokong makasira ng relasyon. I left because of that...and I was hurt and jealous." I whispered.

He looked at me, confusion was now visible on his eyes.

"Why are you...jealous?" He murmured.

Mas nagwala ang puso ko sa tanong n'ya, pinisil ko ang daliri ko bago sumulyap sa kanya at kumuha ng lakas ng loob.

"Because...I'm inlove with you...still." Mallit na boses na sabi ko.

He stopped, as if I've said something that shock him. Nanlaki ang mata n'ya ng bahagya at umawang ang labi n'ya.

"I walked out because of this jealousy, tapos pumunta muna ako kina Cess. Pag-uwi ko 'nung gabi ay naroon si Augustine."

Mukha pa s'yang hindi nakakarecover at tulala pa rin sa akin.

"Si August, anak ng family friend nina Mamá. He's my friend too and we got close. I only treated him like a friend and nothing else."

"He kissed you," He said stiffly, kumunot na ang noo at nasa akin ang buong atensyon.

"I didn't know that, matagal na n'yang sinasabing gusto n'ya ako and I keep on telling him that I only see him as a friend."

"But he kissed you," Ulit pa n'ya, mukhang 'yun ang ikinagagalit.

"That night, he confessed again, saying he wanted to try his chance and I said no, I told him I don't like him like...that. Na h'wag umasa sa sagot ko."

"And he force you?"

"Not really but he said he wanted to try his chance kahit wala. Hinatid ko s'ya sa sasakyan dahil aalis na s'ya then I didn't expected him to kiss me." Nanatili s'yang nakatitig sa akin roon.

"I...I was mad, I admit because you two fought, hindi ko 'yun gusto, na mag-aaway kayo dahil lang sa akin."

"Hindi 'yun 'lang' lang, Lena." He said, annoyed.

"Yes it is, sino ba naman ako para pag-awayan?"

"You're Lena!" He insisted.

"No...I'm no one, hindi ako deserve para pag-awayan. Nagalit ako sa'yo kasi nakipag-away ka, nadala siguro ako ng emosyon at nasabi ko 'yun, lalo na 'nung naisip na kayo ni Emily, she was there when I left you."

"We met at the law school, nothing more, Lena. She's my colleague, I'm ahead of her, I'm her senior." He said.

"Pero kasama mo s'ya 'nung reunion,"

"She wanted to join and I do too, kapag pumunta akong mag-isa, anong gagawin ko roon? Tutunganga sa'yo at mamatay sa selos?" He gritted his teeth and my mouth parted.

"I thought you moved on," I whispered.

"That's the funniest thing you'd say today." Ngiwi n'ya at ngumuso ako.

"That's it for that...and now, I wanted to apologize for what I did to you in the past." I whispered.

I felt the serious, dark aura inside, kung kinakabahan na ako sa pinag-usapan namin kanina, mas grabe ang kaba ko ngayon.

Sumulyap ako sa kanya at nakitang nakatitig nalang s'ya kung saan at malalim ang paghinga.

"I wanted to get this off my chest but I wanted to say that I truly loved you, I've never love anyone that much but you. I don't know if you'll believe me...if you'll ever believe the love I have for you." Nangilid ang luha ko roon kaya mas pinisil ko ang daliri ko.

"You said you're tired of me," He said in a low, lonely voice. "You said you loved Floyd more."

"I lied," My breath hitched. "I-I know about your offer in Cambridge, that you passed Harvard."

Napatingin s'ya kaagad sa akin, gulat.

"Y-You knew?"

I slowly nodded.

"Yes... I know that you passed the exam, I felt it, you are smart, Ejercito. You passed the exam."

Napatitig s'ya sa akin at hindi nagsalita.

"I also know that you won't accept the offer because of me, because you didn't want to leave me here."

Napapikit s'ya ng mariin at umigting ang panga.

"You didn't tell me..."

"Because I know you won't go there if I knew," I insisted. "Alam kong pipilitin mo akong hindi ka pupunta, ayokong mawala ka pero mas ayokong mawala ang pangarap mo dahil sa akin."

"You...broke up with me because of that?" Kumunot ang noo n'ya at mas naging iritado.

"Yes," Bulong ko. "I-I don't know any other way to make you go, study and live your dream. I got no choice."

"That's bullshit, Leona!" His voice raised.

"I don't want you to choose! I know you're struggling! Na-ospital ang Dad mo, your mother is stressed...ayokong pahirapan ka, ayokong pumili ka."

"They talked to you, didn't they?"

"Yes," I murmured at nakita ko ang galit sa mata n'ya.

"I fucking knew it!" He cursed, enrage now.

"Hindi nila ako pinilit, Jer. They never force me to make a decision, I decided what I did by myself, no one else." I murmured.

"That decision is stupid, Lena!"

"No, it's not! If I didn't do that, maybe you're still here with me! The opportunity for you to be what you are today might be gone!"

"I can be successful without studying there!" He exclaimed.

"I know pero iba ang makapag-aral roon, that was your dream, Jer! Ayokong magbabase ka sa desisyon ko, I wanted you to succeed in the profession you always wanted! I never want to see you depending on my decision! If you want to be a lawyer, you will be! I won't cage you with me!"

"You are not caging me, Leona!"

"I am!" I exclaimed. "I can feel it, your love for me is caging you! You discarded your dreams because of me, noong nagsulat tayo ng gusto nating maging pagkagraduate dati...you said you wanted to be what I want when I graduate, ang sabi mo, kung saan ako ay doon ka...ayoko 'nun."

"Ayaw mo akong makasama?" He groaned.

"I want to be with you but I want you to get the dream you've always wanted! Ayokong mawala ang pangarap mo dahil lang sa estupidang babae katulad ko!"

"Your decision might be stupid but you are not stupid, Leona Harriet!"

"I am! I make stupid decisions! I am naíve! I am a fool, I hurt you! Lahat ng masamang gawin ay pinaramdam ko sa'yo! I am worthless compared to you! You have a bright future ahead of you at ayokong makulong ka sa akin! Ayokong baliwalain mo ang iyong pangarap dahil lang sa akin!"

"That's just plain stupid." He gritted his teeth.

"You have a dream before me! Bago mo pa ako makilala, may gusto ka nang marating at ayokong mabalewala ang bagay na 'yun dahil lang dumating ako! I am toxic to you, Jer!"

He shook his head and pulled his hair frustatedly.

"I always believe you will be successful, Jer... Kahit anong sabihin nila, alam kong magiging successful ka." My voice broke and sighed heavily to stop myself from being too emotional.

"I can't believe I got mad just for this! Nagalit ako sa walang kwentang bagay, Lena!" He scoffed, frustration was written all over his face.

Hinila n'ya ang buhok at sinapo ang mukha.

"What? It's your dream, Jer! How can't that be important?!" I exclaimed, tumulo ang luha ko roon.

"Damn, being with you is the only dream I had!" He exclaimed, stopping me.

My tears fell more, nakita ko ang pagkabigo sa mga mata n'ya nang makita akong umiiyak. Umiling ako at hinawi ang luha ko.

"N-No...your dreams are important."

"You are far more important than those stupid dreams." He scoffed.

"I-It's not stupid, that's your dream!" Singhap ko.

"Fuck, I was fucking frustated for nothing! I spent my years trying to deserve you! I keep on telling myself to be successful for you! Para maipagmalaki mo ako!" He looked at me again and noticed his bloodshot eyes.

He did his best to keep calm yet his eyes are telling him otherwise, his jaw clenched, he was biting his lower lip.

"I-I wanted to apologize for my reckless decisions," I said softly, pilit na hinawi ang luha na patuloy na nalalaglag sa pisngi.

"I am sorry for all the things I did, for making a decision alone, without you. For hurting you, for breaking your heart. I'm really sorry, Jer, kasi ang sama-sama ko..."

Lumalim ang paghinga n!'ya at nakita kong kumuyom ang kamay n'ya roon.

"My reasons might not be valid and reckless but I just want to say," Sumulyap ako sa kanya at nang tumingin s'ya sa akin ay inabot ko ang kamay n'ya at marahang hinaplos.

"I wanted to say that I am so...so proud of you." Bulong ko habang nakatitig sa mga mata n'ya. "Kahit masakit, kahit nagkalayo tayo, kahit magulo, I am so proud of what you've become today."

His tears fell and my hand immediately caught his tear and shook my head.

"No...h'wag mo akong iyakan, I don't deserve it..."

"Y-Your decision is stupid," He whispered weakly.

"I know...I know." I whispered with my breaking voice, muli kong hinaplos ang pisngi n'ya at hinawi ang luha n'ya.

He closed his eyes and rested his face on my palm, malalim pa rin ang paghinga at mukhang pagod.

"When you say that you don't deserve me? That's wrong, it is me that don't deserve such fine, amazing and beautiful man as you."

"T-That's bullshit, Leona Harriet." Bulong pa n'ya, nakapikit pa rin.

"The pain that I inflicted to you was severe, I know it left a mark in your heart. I am so sorry, kung pwede lang kunin lahat ng sakit na nararamdaman mo ginawa ko na, kung pwede lang pawiin lahat ng luha mo, ginawa ko na pero alam kong impossible na dahil matagal ng tapos."

He breathe deeply and clenched his jaw.

"I am so, so proud of you. Kapag nakikita kita sa dyaryo? Sa mga kasong naisasara mo? Sobrang-sobrang saya ko, that's what I envisioned you'd become, a successful man. That's my only dream for you too, Jer, for you to be successful despite what the people are saying."

"Masaya naman na ako noon kahit ikaw lang ang naniniwala sa kakayahan ko," He opened his eyes and stared at me. "Their opinions never mattered because what I look up to is when you always believe of what I am capable of."

"Your opinion of me is what mattered the most, as long as you believe I can, I am happy and contented."

I nodded slowly and smiled at him.

"I am so, so proud of you, my love." I whispered. "I-I don't deserve you but I want you to know that I love you so much...na naging mahirap rin sa akin na magkalayo tayo."

"I keep on imagining what it's like to be with you during your tough days, s-siguro magkasama tayo palagi? Sa halip na nagrereview ka sa bar exam ay naghaharutan lang tayo? Baka tumaba na ako ng sobra dahil palagi mo akong pinapakain ng marami?"

Despite his tears, he laughed softly, shaking his head. Hinawi n'ya ang luha ko at hinaplos ang pisngi ko.

"That's definitely what might happen," Iling n'ya.

I licked my lip and tried calming myself, I sighed hard. Natahimik kami sandali habang kinakalma ang mga sarili, pinipilit na maging maayos para makapag-usap ng matino.

I dried my tears and he did too, sinuklay n'ya ang buhok n'ya at huminga ng malalim.

"I looked like an idiot whenever I cry like a crybaby." Reklamo n'ya.

"It's cute," I murmured softly kaya napatingin s'ya sa akin.

"It's kinda gay," He whispered and I shook my head at him.

"I love you," I said, staring at him. I noticed how his eyes twinkled at that, pilit na nagseseryoso pero nabakas ko ang pamumula ng mukha n'ya.

"Lena..." He whispered.

"You proved me a lot of times how much you love me, I lost count, college palang tayo alam ko na sa sarili ko na ikaw lang ang gugustuhin ko sa buhay na 'to." He remained quiet and just stared at me pero kitang-kita ko ang pamumula n'ya.

"Now, I know it sounds silly but I wanted to prove my love to you this time."

"You really don't need to prove it--"

"I will," I cut him off.

"But Lena--"

"Let me, Ejercito." I whispered. "Kasi ako...pakiramdam ko ay wala akong kwenta kumpara sa'yo, that I don't deserve the undying love you have for me."

"Stop saying something ill about yourself." Sumimangot s'ya.

"I'm not," I said. "Just...I feel so useless, parang ang kulang-kulang ng ginawa ko."

"Your decision is definitely stupid, Leona, but you sacrificed a lot." Kumunot ang noo n'ya.

"Pero sinaktan kita," I pointed out. "I am a bitch for doing that!"

"Stop saying that word! Hindi ka ganyan." Mas nairita s'ya sa akin.

"I am! Imagine, I pushed you away, I hurt you. Hinayaan kitang malugmok at sinisisi ang sarili mo, na iniisip kung anong kulang sa'yo. I let you soak alone in rain while carrying the ring for me!"

He froze, umawang ang labi n'ya sa akin.

"You...came?" He whispered.

Napatitig ako sa kanya at marahang tumango, nagsisisi.

"Yes...I was about to come to you, to take back everything I've said pero naisip ko, kung pupuntahan kita, paano na ang pangarap mo? If I showed myself to you and accepted the marriage you're offering, mas lalakas ang loob mong suwayin ang magulang mo."

"That's honestly another stupid decision, Leona!" Kumunot ang noo n'ya. "I make up my mind, kailangan mo talagang bumawi sa akin."

"That's what I'm saying! See, I'm a bitch!"

"If you showed yourself and accepted me, I could've just stole you! Kung nakita kita, sinasabi ko sa'yo, Leona Harriet, wala akong pakialam at itatanan kita!"

Nanlaki ang mata ko sa sinabi n'ya at hinampas s'ya.

"Ejercito!"

"What?!" He groaned. "At isa pang sabing bitch ka, Leona, bubuntisin kita rito!"

My eyes widen exagerratedly, napasulyap ako sa madilim na kwarto paharap sa kanya na nakasimangot sa akin.

"Don't you dare..." I hissed.

"Make it up to me, hindi ako natutuwa sa sinabi mo."

"Okay, liligawan kita!" I said and his emotion vanished, napatitig s'ya sa akin at mamaya pa ay humagalpak ng tawa sa harapan ko.

"Fuck?" He laughed again. "I know your decisions are quite stupid but not to that extent!"

Habang tumatawa s'ya roon ay sumimangot ako at humalukipkip, pinagmamasdan s'yang parang nabibilaukan na sa kakatawa.

"Liligawan raw ako..." Bulong n'ya at tumawa nanaman.

My lips protruded, pinagmasdan lang s'ya hanggang sa tumigil s'ya at napasulyap sa akin.

His smile vanished when he saw how serious I am while staring at him.

"S-Seryoso, Harriet?" He noticed my face.

"Do I look like I'm joking?" I murmured, annoyed.

His mouth parted, napahawak s'ya sa bibig n'ya at gulat akong pinagmasdan.

"S-Seriously?" He asked again. "I'm quite choosy,"

I rolled my eyes at him.

"Kapag nililigawan mo ako, palagi akong manghihingi ng kiss!" Panakot pa n'ya sa akin kaya ngumiwi ako.

"Hindi nanghahalik kapag ganun," I said, my forehead creasing. "Wala pang relasyon, dapat kalmado."

"Iba nga sa akin," Aniya. "Agressive dapat."

"Ewan ko sa'yo, Sandejas." Ngiwi ko at maya-maya pa'y ngumisi s'ya.

"Simula na ba 'yun ngayong gabi?" He asked.

"Huh? 'Yung ano?"


"Panliligaw mo? Fuck, ganito talaga ako ka-gwapo, Harriet? Para ligawan mo? Ganito ka ka-patay na patay sa akin?" Tawa n'ya.

"Baka gusto mong ikaw patayin ko?" I hissed pero humagalpak lang s'ya at ihinilamos ang kamay sa mukha n'ya.

"Shit, I can't believe this..." He cursed.

"Ayan nanaman s'ya, you're too full of yourself." Sita ko.

"Sinong hindi?" He asked. "Beauty queen ang nanliligaw sa akin!"

Bigla akong natawa sa pagbibida n'ya roon, tila hindi umiyak sa pagkamangha n'ya.

"Bukas na ako manliligaw, napapagod na ako kakaiyak." I said at doon s'ya napasulyap sa akin.

"You wanna sleep now?" He suddenly asked at marahan akong tumango at humikab.

He sighed and licked his lip, nagitla ako nang humarap s'ya sa akin at sinuklay ang buhok ko gamit ang daliri n'ya at inayos ang ponytail ko.

"Naiinitan ka? Maybe I can find a way out, are you thirsty?" He asked.

"I'm fine," I whispered and smiled. "Let's rest, I know you had a long day too."

He nodded slowly then I watched him when he started walking around the room. Marahan akong sumandal sa pader at sumulyap sa kanya.

"What are you doing?" I asked.

"Baka nag-iwan sila ng tubig rito," He said, looking around and then cursed suddenly.

"What? Why?" I asked, sinilip s'ya sa may pintuan.

Maya-maya'y bumalik na may hawak na bote ng tubig kaya umawang ang labi ko.

"How..."

"They really did plan this well," He snorted then went closer, binuksan n'ya ang tubig at naupo sa tabi ko bago ito inabot.

Kaagad akong uminom at ibinigay sa kanya ang tira na ininuman n'ya rin at itinabi pagkatapos.

"Jer?" I suddenly called when I saw him removing his jacket and placing it on my leg.

"Hmm?" He hummed and fixed it on my leg. "Baka malamok mamaya."

"Thank you," I whispered then smiled.

Tumitig s'ya sa akin at marahang tumango, he placed my hair behind my ear then slowly rested his back on the wall.

"Basta ikaw," He whispered back, marahang hinawakan n'ya ako pasandal sa kanyang dibdib at huminga ng malalim bago ako ilapit sa kanyang katawan.

We are both quiet now, nawala ang antok ko sa katahimikang iyon kaya napaisip ako.

I suddenly thought of reading something funny somewhere kaya ngumisi ako at tinawag ang atensyon n'ya.

"Jer?"

"Hmm?" He hummed and played with the tip of my hair.

"Naniniwala ka sa reincarnation?" I asked him.

"Huh? Maybe? I don't know, why is it so random?" He asked, confused.

I chuckled, nagtataka s'ya nang lumayo ako sa harapan n'ya at pinagmasdan s'ya.

"Ako naniniwala," I said at mas nagtaka s'ya roon.

"Alam kong baliw ako, Lena, pero bakit parang ikaw na rin?" He asked at natawa ako at tinapik s'ya.

"Naniniwala ako sa reincarnation, kasi dati akong katipunera na namatay sa gyera..."

"Itulog mo na 'yan," Natatawa na s'ya sa akin.

"At ngayon ay nagbabalik, para ipaglaban ka." I said smoothly and winked. His jaw dropped.


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