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

Kabanata 9

If only I can make the time faster, I will.

"Kumusta, Lena? Sad ka nanaman?" I smiled a little when I saw my friend, Cess. Inilahad n'ya sa akin ang sandwich na kaagad kong inabot.

"Salamat," I said softly. "I am really not that sad, just...uhm,"

"Missing Jer?" She teased. I froze, umiling ako pero nag-init ang pisngi ko kaya natawa ang kaibigan ko at marahan akong tinulak. "Naku, Leona. Lokohin mo ang lahat, h'wag lang ako. I know you, kayo na ba?"

"K-Kami?" My eyes widen, suminghap ako at sinubukang umiling pero ang malisyosong tingin ni Cess ang nagpatigil sa akin.

"Umamin na," She said flatly. I stared at her, nang makitang nakatitig s'ya at seryoso ay tumango ako.

"I knew it!" She exclaimed. Tatayo pa sana s'ya sa bench pero mabilis ko s'yang hinila paupo.

"Cess! No, calm down!" I pulled her. She was chuckling, nang maupo s'ya ay pinanliitan n'ya ako ng mata.

"I reallt knew it," Tumawa s'ya. "You're sad because Ejercito isn't here for four days now? Right?"

"Uhm, yes." I sighed. Kinuha ko ang sandwich na ibinigay n'ya at binuksan. "Wala lang, it's kinda sad since kasasagot ko sa kanya yet he wasn't here, hindi naman ako galit, nalulungkot lang. But a week is not too long, babalik na rin iyon."

"True love waits, Lena." She smiled. "Malay mo nandito na mamaya?"

"I hope," I gasped. "Pero impossible, he went to Cambridge with his family as far as I know."

"Oh, Cambridge? What will he do there?" She asked.

"I don't know," I shrugged. "I'll just ask him if he comes back."

"Alright, are you ready na ba mamaya?" She asked and I nodded.

"Yep, I prepared my clothes since last night." I told her.

"So, see you later, then? Six PM for career orientation, right? Dito sa campus?"

"Yup, sige. Thank you, Cess!" I smiled.

"Ingat sa pag-uwi, alright? And Jer will be back soon, don't worry." I smiled. She waved her hand at mabilis akong kumaway pabalik sa kanya.

Nanatili akong nakaupo sa soccer field nang makitang umalis na ng tuluyan si Cess. I ate the food she gave and stared at the players playing in the middle.

I wonder what would Jer looked when he played that. Sweaty? I imagine him brushing his hair with his fingers, his blue eyes glancing coldly to his co-players.

I would bet everything he'll look good with that.

"Ma'am Lena?" Mabilis akong tumingin sa likod at nakita ang driver namin na narito na.

"Aalis na po ba tayo?" I asked him.

"Opo, Ma'am, may bisita po sa bahay." Aniya. Nagtataka man ay tumango ako at tumayo bago kinipkip ang gamit at sumunod sa kanya.

I was scanning my notes as we went home, mamaya kasi ay may career orientation to help us choose our own paths when we graduate which will happen anytime soon now.

May mga speakers kasi from different companies that would recruit us to their companies. Basta ako napag-isipan ko na kung anong gusto ko, si Ejercito? I think he will look great if he pursues law.

He excels a lot in that subject at doon naman ako mahina. Kung wala nga siguro si Jer para turuan ako sa subject na 'yun ay baka mababa lang ang makuha ko roon.

Pagdating palang namin sa bahay ay napansin ko na ang isang kulay asul na sasakyan. It looks a lot like our car but looking more vintage.

Pagkapasok ko palang ay naabutan ko na si Mamá na may kausap na kasing edad n'yang ginang habang nakaupo sa sofa at sumisimsim ng tsaa.

Sa paglingon ko ay nakita ko rin ang Papá na may kausap na lalaking kasing edad rin n'ya.

"Magandang tanghali," Bati ko na nakakuha ng kanilang atensyon. Tumayo kaagad ang Mamá para salubungin ako at bigyan ng pansin.

She kissed my cheek, hinawakan n'ya ang braso ko para ilapit sa ginang na kausap n'ya kanina.

"Roselda, here is my daughter, Leona Harriet." She smiled at me.

"And Lena, this is Roselda, my amiga." She stood. Nagbeso kami at ngumiti ako sa kanya.

"Nice meeting you, Madamé." I said softly.

"Nice meeting you, Leona. You can call me Auntie Rosel." I nodded and smiled. Inaya ako ni Mamá na maupo sa sofa at nang hainan ako ng kasabay ng tsaa ay sumimsim rin ako roon.

"I can tell it already, my unico hijo would definitely like your daughter, amiga!" I overheard them speaking.

"I wish they would click, Rosel." My Mom said.

My forehead creased but I didn't say anything. Why would we click, then?

I remained sitting there, not minding it at all. Ang utak ko lang ay na kay Ejercito at kung ano ang ginagawa n'ya ngayon. Is he having fun in Cambridge?

May mga babae kaya roon? Magugustuhan pa rin kaya n'ya ako pagbalik n'ya?

Damn, I should stop overreacting!

"Come on, let's eat, hija." Bumaling ako sa Mamá nang magsalita s'ya. I nodded softly, inayos ko ang uniporme at sumunod sa kanila.

"Hija," I took a glance beside me and saw my father with the man he's been talkint to earlier. Inabot n'ya ang braso ko at ngumiti ako at humalik sa pisngi n'ya.

"Hi, Papá." I smiled.

"How's school, hija?" Masuyong tanong n'ya sa akin.

"Great," Ngumiti ako. "We'll be having a career orientation later."

"That's good, you can decide what you really want after college." Aniya sa akin. I nodded, nakita ko namang napasulyap ang Papá sa lalaking kasama pabalik sa akin.

"Oh, Lena, hija..." He called. "Meet Ruselle, he's a good friend of mine."

"And Ruselle, my daughter, Leona Harriet."

"Nice meeting you, Lena." I saw the man just about my father's age smiled.

"Nice meeting you too, Sir." I accepted his hand.

"No, you can call me Uncle Ruselle instead, Rosel is my wife." Bumilog ang bibig ko at tumango, sumasang-ayon sa kanya.

My father assisted me towards the dining room. Ngumiti ako at nagpasalamat nang ipag-angat n'ya ako ng upuan. Pagkatapos ay umupo s'ya sa kabisera at tumabi sa akin ang Mamá.

The man and woman sat on the opposite side of the dining table. Tahimik lang akong sumusulyap sa kanila habang nagbubulungan.

"Augustin will be here soon," Ani nung babae.

"Oh, that's lovely. Let's wait for him a bit." Ani Mamá at lumapit para pasimpleng bumulong.

"You'd like to know Augustin, Leona. He's a good man." She whispered.

Hindi ako umimik, I nodded a little, feeling weird.

Nagkwentuhan sila tungkol sa negosyo at tahimik lang akong nakikinig. I can't wait for this week to end, I need to see Jer.

"Good day, I'm sorry I am late." A baritone voice said, mabilis akong nag-angat ng tingin at nakita ang gwapong lalaki sa kusina.

He was tall, has black hair and deep black eyes.

"Gus, hijo!" The woman stood and kissed his cheek.

"Mom," He smiled, his lips tugging. I stared at him, nakita kong lumapit s'ya sa ama para batiin ito.

"Hijo, I want you to meet Imenda, my amiga." Tumayo si Mamá at binati ang binata.

"Nice meeting you, Ma'am." Magalang na bati nito sa Mamá.

"Nice meeting you, hijo." My Mom smiled sweetly.

"And this is Ricardo, he's our amigo." She introduced my Dad.

"Sir," He extended his hand and my Dad smiled and took it.

"And this is their unica hija..." Marahan akong tumayo sa silya at nakita ko kung paano bumaling sa akin ang binata at matamis na ngumiti.

"That's Leona Harriet Abelló." She introduced me.

I was starled when the handsome man walked towards my direction and took my hand. I was confused when he spoke.

"Nice meeting you, lovely miss." He whispered and kissed the back of my hand.

"Uhm, nice meeting you too." I smiled a little. He let go of my hand and spoke.

"Augustin Mercado," Pakilala n'ya.

"Lena," I smiled. He offered his hand and I gladly took it.

"They'll be a great couple!" I slowlt removed mt hand from him when his mother suddenly spoke.

"Oh, they would be!" My Mom exclaimed. Maliit akong ngumiti roon. The man went back to his mother's side.

"Hijo, she's a beauty isn't she?" Biglang sabi nito sa anak pagkaupo nila sa upuan.

I saw Augustin took a glance at me, his soft black eyes smiling too as he nodded.

"Stunning," He murmured as he stared at my eyes.

Bigla akong nahiya. My cheeks blushed and I lowered my head. My Mom chuckled and slowlt touched my arm.

"Oh, our lovely Lena here is blushing!" She exclaimed.

"Mom," I whispered. Mas nagtawanan ang nasa hapag, dumating ang mga pagkain at patuloy nila akong inaasar kay August na palagi kong nahuhuling nakatitig sa akin.

I am smiling a little everytime our eyes met and he'd smile back at me.

Ngumuso ako at marahang sumimsim ng juice na nasa baso ko.

"Hija, balita ko, you're into modelling?" Ani ni Auntie Rosel nang nasa gitna kami ng pagkain.

"Uhm, yes po." I smiled politely.

"Oh, that's great! I can't believe you're getting good grades at school yet can do modelling!" She said.

"That's what I am proud of, Amiga." Ani Mamá na pinunasan ang gilid ng kanyang labi. "I always admire my daughter for being good at school at the same time."

"Nakakaproud nga ang ganyan! My son is also like that, nakakatuwa lang at mukhang bagay na bagay nga ang dalawang ito." Nagtawanan ulit sila.

"Yes, they are! Augustin is a very handsome man, I think they'll suit each other!" Bati pa ni Mamá. "Malay mo at magkaigihan na ang dalawang ito pagkatapos nitong lunch!"

I remained silent.

No, Mom. Yep, he's handsome but...I'd probably choose Ejercito. Kahit may pagkasinto-sinto man minsan ay komportable ako roon at kilalang-kilala ko pa.

"You're a political science student, right?" Uncle Ruselle suddenly asked.

"Yes po," I answered.

"What career path are you considering, hija? After college?" He asked.

"Uhm, I'd like to be a public relations specialist or I'm also considering being a marketing research analyst so I can help our business." I answered.

"Wow," Auntie smiled widely. "That was so ideal, hija! Aren't you considering studying law?"

"Not my field, auntie." I chuckled a bit. "I'm really not good in article and laws that much."

"Oh," She nodded. "Our Augustin here just took an exam in Cambridge just two days ago!"

"Cambridge?" I asked curiously.

"He had his exam to enter law school there. Harvard? You know that?" I nodded at her.

"Yes po,"

"We'll wait for his results next week and if he passed then we'll fly to Cambridge so he'd study law."

"Oh, that's great!" I smiled. "I wish you luck," Sumulyap ako kay August at ngumiti.

"Thank you, Lena." He smiled back.

Our parents left us both alone after lunch. Tahimik akong nakaupo sa garden habang nakaupo rin s'ya sa tabi ko at sumusulyap.

"Uhm, Lena..." Lumingon ako nang tawagin n'ya ako.

"Yes?" I asked and smiled.

"Is it too sudden if I told you I like you?" Aniya. My eyes widen, hindi ako kaagad nakapagsalita roon.

"Uhm, yeah..." I smiled awkwardly. "Too fast."

"Sorry, I just...I don't know, when I met you earlier I was starled like yeah, told myself, I probably like this girl." He told me honestly and I don't know what to say.

I started panicking, confused and nothing to say so he spoke again.

"Don't panic, I just wanna tell you that..." Marahang hinawi n'ya ang buhok ko. "That I like you."

"Uhm, August, kasi..."

"You don't have to answer." Aniya. "Basta gusto ko lang malaman mo, it was my first time being this attracted to someone at first sight so I woudn't waste my time and hide it."

Hindi ako umimik, I lowered my head and nodded a little.

"In case, do you like someone?" Aniya. Nilingon ko s'ya at sumulyap sa mga mata n'ya.

I know his eyes screams hope but I woudn't tolerate it, ayokong magpaasa.

"Yes," I said sofly. "I'm sorry, August. I just uhm, you know. My heart is commited to someone else."

"I understand," He smiled. "That hurts but that's life, I think?"

"Yes," I shrugged. "Sometimes you gotta accept that not all things is fated for you to have."

We bid our goodbyes when it reached three thirty in the afternoon. Inaasar pa kami nila pero tinatawanan lang namin.

He's a good man but my heart is with someone now and he's not here today that's why I am so tired.

Tahimik akong naglakad sa pasilyo ng unibersidad para magtungo sa room na naka-assign sa block namin.

I saw boys smiling at me, ang iba ay babatiin pa ako at kakawayan kaya ngumingiti rin ako sa kanila pabalik.

"Wala 'yung buntot mo, Lena, huh?" Bati sa akin ng isang guro ko sa subject.

"Opo, Ma'am." I chuckled. "Umalis kasi,"

"Kaya pala walang umaaligid sa'yo? Naku, iyong si Ejercito, palaging nanggugulo 'yun sa'yo. Sinagot mo na ba?"

I froze. Tumawa naman s'ya at pi-nat ang balikat mo.

"Gustong-gusto ka 'nung batang 'yun, alam mo bang nakiusap pa 'yun na hiramin 'yung isang function hall doon sa ball? Para daw sa sorpresa sa'yo." Aniya. My eyes widen, tumango naman s'ya at umiling.

"O, s'ya, pumasok ka na at magsisimula na ata ang seminar n'yo."

He asked to borrow the function hall? Oh, is that the one when I saw him with Britanny?

I entered the room assigned to us and looked at the front row. Pababa ang room roon sa parteng iyon ng unibersidad. Ang pinakadulo ay mataas at nasa ibaba ang malaking screen at ang projector.

I saw someone fixing his things there at sumulyap ako sa harapan at hinanap ang kaibigan ko.

Bumaba ako ng bahagya. I saw Cess at the front row, kumaway s'ya sa akin at ngumisi ako.

I asked if I have a seat there but she shook her head at me sadly. I pouted, ayoko pa namang umupo sa likuran.

I saw an empty seat at the third row, akmang lalapit ako roon nang may yumapos na braso sa baywang ko mula sa likod.

I was starled and jumped. Napahawak ako sa dibdib ko at lumingon at 'yun nalang ang panlalaki ng mata ko sa nakita.

"Jer!" I jumped. He chuckled, his lips tugged for a smile. Sa galak ko ay nayapos ko ang leeg n'ya at natatawang yumakap s'ya sa baywang ko.

"You miss me that much, huh?" He whispered huskily.

"I do!" I cheered. His white set of teeth showing. Huli na nang napansin kong tinitignan na kami ng mga estudyante kaya mabilis akong napabitaw sa leeg ni Jer.

I saw Britanny eyeing us with her sharp glare. Ngumuso naman ako roon at nahuli si Cess na natatawa at mukhang kinikilig.

"I reserved you a seat at the back," Ani Jer na marahang hinuli ang daliri ko. "Come on, hon."

I followed him, nag-iinit ang pisngi dahil sa napansin nga kami ng mga kaklase at kinikilig dahil narito na ang kasintahan ko.

I stared softly at the masculine back of my boyfriend, he's wearing a simple brown coat reaching his thighs, black slacks and he has a longsleeve clothes inside, with his deep black necktie hanging on his neck in a formal manner.

Nakagat ko ang labi habang pinagmamasdan ang likod n'ya, nang marating namin ang pwesto ay kaagad n'ya akong ipinaglahad ng upuan at napangiti ako.

"Thanks, Jer." I murmured.

"For you," He winked playfully and I smacked his arm. Natatawang naupo s'ya sa tabi ko at iniunat ang kamay patungo sa likuran ng upuan ko.

"How's your day, mahal ko?" He suddenly whispered.

My heart hammered inside my chest. Nakagat ko ang labi at marahang sumulyap sa kanya.

"Great...but not that much until you came." I said. He froze, I saw how his cheeks reddened and looked away.

Natawa ako, marahan kong inabot ang pisngi n'ya at nang makitang nahihiya pa s'ya sa reaksyon ay ngumuso ako.

"You're making my heart beat too fast, woman." He groaned. I chuckled more, sumulyap ako sa paligid at nang makitang walang nakatingin ay mabilis akong lumapit kay Jer at ninakawan s'ya ng mabilis na halik.

He froze again, tila tuliro sa ginawa ko at umawang ang labi.

"Y-You,"

"I missed you," I pouted. "Don't leave na again, huh?"

"Yeah..." He blinked, I saw him licked his lips and stared at mine. "I love you,"

Ngumisi ako at nagwala nanaman ang puso, kinurot ko ang pisngi n'ya at umayos ng upo bago marahang humilig sa kanya.

He put his hand above my shoulder, marahang hinaplos n'ya iyon at inamoy ang buhok ko.

"You look beautiful, hon." He whispered.

"Am I?" I murmured back.

"Always," Dumungaw s'ya sa mukha ko at humalik sa noo ko. "Napatagal nga ang uwi ko, I was planning to be back after three days but the flight is too much."

"Anong oras ka dumating?" I asked him.

"Three PM," He said. Nagulat ako roon at nilingon s'ya.

"What? Have you rested?" Kumunot ang noo ko.

"I'm good just by seeing you." He smiled at me. "I was supposed to be going to school tomorrow but when I saw Cess and asked about you, sabi n'ya na-mimiss mo raw ako?"

My mouth parted. Ngumuso s'ya at sumulyap sa kwintas ko at marahang inabot iyon.

"How could I let my queen miss me, then?" He stared at my eyes, his blue eyes glistened. "So I am here and...I am now relaxed than I ever was."

"Jer," I pouted. Ngumisi s'ya at hinaplos ang pisngi ko.

Marahang lumapit naman ako at yumakap sa tagiliran n'ya. He chuckled and hug me back.

"How's Cambridge? Anong ginawa mo roon?" I asked.

He remained silent and then he sighed, nang sumulyap ako sa kanya ay nakatingin s'ya sa akin.

"Jer?"

"Nothing, I just went with Mom. Namasyal." He smiled a little but it seems a little off.

"You're lying," I told him. I saw him froze then shook his head.

"I went there with my parents, namasyal lang then... They asked me to take an entrance exam." He said.

"Exam?" My forehead creased.

"Hmm," Inabot n'ya ang baba ko at marahang hinaplos.

"Where?"

"Harvard," He said. My mouth parted, kumurap ako at tumango.

"Wow! Then? What happened? What did you take there?"

"They asked me to take an examination for law school," He said.

"Oh my God! That will be good, Jer!" I exclaimed happily. "The results?"

"Wala pa," He shook his head.

"I know you'll do great!" I cheered happily. "You'll be a great lawyer, I know it!"

He sighed, nakita ko ang ngiti sa labi n'ya pero malungkot naman ang mga mata.

"Jer? Why?" I asked. He shook his head, marahang hinila ako palapit sa kanya at inabot ang baywang ko.

"Hindi pa 'yun sigurado. Hindi siguro papasa." Bulong n'ya at hinalikan ang buhok ko.

"It will!" I told him. "I trust you, Jer! I know how much you love law!"

"No, hindi..." He whispered and hugged my waist tighter. "Hindi 'yun pasado, I am sure."

"It is," I murmured and slapped his leg. "I trust you, pasado 'yun."

"Hindi nga," Ulit n'ya at inabot ang kwintas ko.

"Oo nga!" I looked at him. Hinuli n'ya ang pisngi ko at humalik bago umiling.

"Hindi," He said. "Hindi pwedeng pumasa."

"Huh? Why?" Nilingon ko s'ya pero umiling s'ya at ngumisi ng hilaw sa akin.

"Basta," He shook his head at me.


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