"Lena..." I looked at him when he whispered.
"Hmm?" I asked.
"Nothing," He smiled at me and squeezed my hand under our chair. "I just missed you so much."
"I missed you too," Baling ko at pinisil ang kamay n'ya pabalik.
The presenter is in the middle of the crowd, nakikinig ako pero wala akong naiintindihan, all I can hear are the unrecognisable words, ang atensyon ko ay na kay Ejercito na nakasandal at pinaglalaruan ang daliri ko.
I saw him focusing on my hand, inilalagay n'ya ang hintuturo sa gitna ng palad ko at kaagad ko iyong huhulihin kaya natatawa s'ya.
"I'm getting bored," He murmured. "Where do you wanna date, hon?"
"Hmm, sa paborito ko?" I suggested.
"Perya?" His brow raised and a playful smile left his lips.
"Hmm," I murmured. "Is that fine?"
"Definitely," He kissed my hand and looked at the man infront.
Minutes have passed but it's getting more boring each passing time, I am staring to feel sleepy at nang sumulyap ako kay Ejercito ay nakita kong pinapalobo na n'ya ang bibig at puputukin pagkatapos.
He let air fill his mouth at nang lumubo ang pisngi n'ya ay mabilis kong pinindot ito na nag-ani ng ingay.
My eyes widen and he paled when his mouth sounded like he just farted!
The people stopped, nanlaki ang mata ko nang bumaling sila sa amin at ang iba'y nagtakip ng ilong.
Ejercito coughed, namula ang mukha n'ya at napalunok ako roon.
"S-Sorry," Ubo ni Jer at humarap sa akin.
"Maybe you can excuse yourself first, Mr. Sandejas." The strict professor suddenly said, covering his nose.
He did not farted! Oh my God!
"Excuse me, then..." Ejercito shook his head and glared at me. Natatawa naman ako pero pilit na nagseryoso.
Tumayo si Ejercito sa kanyang upuan at nagmamadaling umalis sa loob ng room.
"Gwapo naman umutot ni Jer!" I heard the girl giggling infront of me.
Tumaas ang kilay ko roon.
"Sinabi mo pa, have you seen him blushing? Ang gwapo!" Her friend said.
Nag-umpisa na ulit ang nagsasalita sa harap pero masama pa rin ang tingin ko sa mga babae sa harapan.
"Totoo bang girlfriend n'ya 'yung kaibigan n'ya?"
"Oo, di naman kagandahan!"
Excuse me?! Narito ako sa likuran n'yo!
Halos magpanting ang tenga ko.
"Hindi naman siguro? Mapili 'yun sa babae--" Tumikhim ako kaya napaharap sila sa akin.
Nakita ko ang gulat nila kaya ngumiwi ako sa kanila. I raised my brow, natahimik sila at sa inis ko ay tahimik ako pumuslit palabas ng room para hanapin si Ejercito.
I fixed my dress, habang lumilinga ay hinahanap ko si Ejercito sa tahimik na hallway.
Where is he?
I walked while looking around and gasped when I felt someone pulled me somewhere. My eyes widen when I felt my back slammed on the wall pero ang gulat ko ay napalitan ng tawa nang makita ang mukha ni Ejercito.
"What?" I chuckled loudly.
"You're annoying, Lena." He hissed with his straight face. I laughed more at his face.
Nakasandal ako habang nakapatong ang kanyang kamay sa itaas ng ulo ko. Nakasimangot s'ya at masama ang tingin sa akin.
"You're so cute, Jer." I chuckled, iniangat ko ang kamay ko at hinaplos ang pisngi n'ya.
I saw his face soften but then blink and was staright face again.
"Oh, come on. Hindi mo ako matitiis." I teased.
"Leona Harriet," Giit n'ya.
"You're handsome, stop being irritated." I pinched his cheek and tiptoed to kiss his lips.
He froze, I saw how his eyes widen at napahagikhik ako sa kanya at hinanap ang mata n'ya.
"Hindi na galit?" I asked.
He sighed, he closed his eyes tightly and leaned in to give me a peck on the lips again and rested his forehead against mine.
"Hindi talaga kita matiis," He groaned.
I chuckled heartily and hugged his nape, gumapang naman ang kamay n'ya sa baywang ko at pinirmi iyon bago paulit-ulit na humalik sa noo ko.
"You're lucky I missed you so much," He pulled me for a soft hug.
"I missed you too," I hugged him back and noticed we're at the the girl's restroom.
"Labas na tayo, Jer!" I called his attention.
"Hmm?" He hummed on my shoulder. "Balik ka na sa seminar, hon."
"Huh?" Lumayo ako at sinilip ang mukha n'ya. "Ikaw?"
"I won't," He snorted. "That was embarassing."
"Gwapo nga, pala-utot naman." I teased.
His face flushed. Napahagalpak ako ng tawa nang makita ang pagkakatulala n'ya sa akin.
"Anong sabi mo?" He tickled me kaya napatili ako at pinalo ang kamay n'ya.
"Jer! I exclaimed.
"Ano, huh?" He squeezed my waist. "It sounded like fart because of you."
"S-Sorry!" I laughed and pushed him.
"No," Kiniliti n'ya ako kaya napasinghap ako at tumawa habang pinapalo s'ya.
"What?" He squeezed my waist. "You naughty woman."
"Ano ba?!" Tawa ako nang tawa at tinutulak s'ya at sabay kaming natigilan nang makarinig ng boses sa labas.
"May tao!" I hissed. Ejercito was disoriented and confused, mabilis kong hinila ang kamay n'ya papasok sa isang cubicle bago ini-lock.
I heard footsteps outside, nanlaki ang mata ko at nakita ko ang pagkurap ni Jer habang hawak ang baywang ko.
"The seminar's boring," I heard a voice in the bathroom.
"Oo nga, and Ejercito left. Wala na tuloy akong matitigan." I heard a woman said.
Nagsalubong ang kilay ko nang makita kong napapangisi si Ejercito roon.
"I know, right? And that Leona... Is she his girlfriend? I saw them hugged!"
"Impossible, Lena isn't Jer's type of girl." The girl answered.
I looked at Jer, nanliit ang mata ko at kumindat s'ya bago hawakan ang baywang ko para sa yakap.
"Hindi 'yan totoo, Harriet." Bulong n'ya.
"Talaga lang, huh?" I murmured. He chuckled deeply and buried his face on my neck.
"Hmm, if you weren't my type, sana hindi tayo magkayakap ngayon, hindi ba?" Bulong n'ya.
"Hmp!" I smacked his arm.
"Malay mo, hindi talaga. I heard rumors last time, sa ball, they were seen together."
"Magkaibigan kasi sila," Sagot nung isa.
"Basta, ayokong magkatuluyan sila. Hindi sila bagay!" The girl hissed at ngumuso ako at hinarap si Jer.
"Hindi ba?" I murmured.
Umiling s'ya at hinaplos ang pisngi ko.
"Bagay na bagay," He murmured softly. "Ako lang nababagay sa'yo, Lena. Walang iba."
The girls left at natatawa kami ni Jer nang makalabas sa banyo. We were holding hands.
"Balik ka na sa seminar," He encouraged me.
"Ikaw?" My brow raised.
"No, hon. I'll wait for you here." Sagot n'ya sa akin.
"Huh?" I pouted. "No... Ako nga ang ipinunta mo rito tapos hindi rin naman tayo magkakasama?"
His lips protruded, he ran his fingers on his hair and stared at me.
"Sayang ang seminar, I will just wait for you here."
"No," I shook my head and looked around. "Punta tayo sa perya, let's escape."
His eyes widen, natawa ako sa kanya at yumakap sa braso n'ya.
"Let's go, Jer!" I exclaimed happily.
"You'll go with me?" Gulat n'yang sabi.
"Yes!" I smiled. "I won't go back there, it's boring."
"No, come on!" I pulled him softly. "No buts, we'll go out!"
I saw how a soft smile escaped his lips, inabot n'ya ang kamay ko at tahimik akong hinila kung saan. I chuckled when I saw the sleeping security guard.
Jer placed his finger on his lips and mentioned me to walk quietly so I did. Magkahawak-kamay kaming naglakad at nang makalagpas ay nagmamadali kaming nagtungo sa may pader palabas ng unibersidad.
"I'll go first, hon." He said and stepped at the top of the table in there.
I nodded, he stretched his body, pulled himself up the wall and smoothly sat on the wall.
I chuckled when he offered me his hand, mabilis akong umakyat sa lamesa at marahang hinatak n'ya ako paakyat hanggang sa makaupo kami sa pader.
I looked down and saw the quiet parking space. Ejercito cleared his throat and clicked his neck as he swiftly jumped off the wall.
My mouth parted when he smootly landed on the ground, the end of his coat flying with the air.
Looks like a hero, hmm? My hero.
"Hey, love, jump!" He called me, lifting his arms on the air. I bit my lip and nodded, nanginginig pa ang kamay habang nakakapit sa pader at sumulyap sa kanya.
"S-Sasaluin mo ako, huh!" I murmured.
His brow raised, a playful smile left his lips before nodding.
"I'll always catch you, hon." He chuckled. "Every damn time."
That is enough assurance for me, I jumped of the wall and I closed my eyes if ever I'll slam on the ground but a pair of strong arms catched me.
Nang magmulat ako ng mata ay nasalubong ko ang malalim na asul na mga mata ni Ejercito. I saw how his blue eyes shine with the dark clouds above.
Napakurap ako at nakita ko ang pagkislap ng mata n'ya habang nakasulyap sa akin.
"I know you love me much, Lena." He chuckled and carried me. "But don't make it too obvious,"
"Jer!" I groaned and slapped his chest. He chuckled and slowly lowered me on the ground.
Humawak ako sa braso n'ya at inalalayan n'ya akong patayo. He fixed my dress and offered his hand on me.
I accepted it as we walked non-chalantly out of the university. Nagtawanan pa kami sa pagkakatakas sa seminar.
"Gumagaya ka na sa'kin, that's bad." Jer murmured, holding my hand.
"Yeah," I smiled. "I loved it anyways."
Kinawayan kami ni Manong na nagtitinda ng street foods at kumaway kami sa kanya.
"Ano, hijo? Sinagot ka na?" Manong exclaimed.
"Yes, Kuya! Napa-oo ko na!" My cheeks flushed. Pinalo ko si Ejercito na natatawa roon at sumaludo kay Kuya.
"Mabuti 'yan, Jer! Hindi ka na torpe!" Kuya exclaimed.
I saw Jer froze, doon naman ako natawa at sumaludo ako kay Kuya.
"Well, umamin na. Nabahag siguro ang buntot dati!" I answered.
"Siguro nga, hija!" Kuya laughed. Ejercito glared at me kaya humagikhik ako at hinawakan ang kamay nya.
"Sige po, aalis na kami." Paalam ko.
"Sige, mag-ingat kayo!" He waved his hand at nakasimangot na si Jer ay hinila ko na patungo sa traysikel.
He was pouting when we're inside the tricycle. Natatawang sumandig ako sa kanya at pinindot ang ilong n'ya.
"H'wag ka na magtampo, Jer. Truth hurts, eh?" I murmured.
"Leona," He hissed. I chuckled and caressed his hand. "Okay lang na torpe, nasabi mo rin naman kalaunan."
"Hindi ako torpe," Ngiwi n'ya. I chuckled at that, matalim ang tingin n'ya sa akin kaya pinisil ko ang daliri n'ya.
"It's alright, Jer. Don't cry..." I tapped his chin.
"You woman..." He groaned at napatawa ako nang hulihin n'ya ang pisngi ko, he held my jaw and rained my face with his kisses.
"Ano ba!" Natatawang pinalo ko s'ya.
"Swerte mo mahal kita," Reklamo n'ya at hinuli ang labi ko kaya napangiti ako at mabilis s'yang hinalikan pabalik at bahagyang lumayo.
We reached my favorite place after a while, hawak-hawak ko ang kamay ni Jer habang nakaupo kami sa bench at nakatanaw sa carousel sa hindi kalayuan.
I took a small piece of cotton candy and placed it on his lips na kaagad n'yang kinain bago muling sumandal sa bench at ipinatong ang kamay sa aking likuran.
"I hope things will always be like this," He suddenly said kaya napaharap ako sa kanya.
"Hmm?" I asked.
"Nothing," He smiled and took my hand so he can eat a piece of cotton candy. "I just wish this too much happiness will last."
"It will," Masuyong sabi ko habang pinagmamasdan s'ya. "As long as I am with you, I know this happiness will last."
He froze, I saw how his eyes darted on my face. His blue eyes suddenly filled with fear and sadness kaya nagtaka ako roon.
"May problema ka ba?" Bulong ko.
"Nothing," He chuckled and looked away.
"Ano nga kasi?" I asked him, I took his hand kaya napatitig sya roon pabalik sa mukha ko.
"Will you...will you stay with me, Lena?" He eyed me seriously and I nodded at that without second thoughts.
"Of course," I said. "Why would I leave you? Just promise me you'll stay then I'll stay too."
"I will stay," He assured me, a smile slowly formed on his lips. "Unless you'll push me away."
"I won't. Silly." Natawa ako sa kanya. "Why would I push you away?"
"No one knows," He shrugged. "But...I am not that scared anymore. I believe you, hindi ka naman mangangako kung hindi mo gagawin diba?"
"Hmm," I nodded.
"I won't go away," Pinaglaruan n'ya ang daliri ko. "Dito lang ako sa tabi mo, Lena. We'll reach our dream together."
"We'll fly together," I murmured.
"Promise?" He asked, his eyes shining with his sweet smile.
"Promise." I said.
We had fun that night. We rode the carousel, the haunted train with Ejercito screaming his lungs out and my favorite ride, the ferris wheel.
He conquered his fear just so he could be with me. Palagi s'yang napapasakay rito para sa akin, dahil ayaw n'ya akong mag-isa.
Even when I keep on seeing him shaking, his eyes closed and gripping my hand, sumama pa rin s'ya sa akin.
I can't believe I have this precious man with me. I can't believe I have him now.
This man is my bestfriend, my lover, my hero and everything. I coudn't let go of his hand. Never.
"Lena! Buti dumating ka na!" My brows met when I saw my friend, Cess, running towards me.
"Huh?" I asked her. "Si Jer ba? Hindi pa pumapasok?"
"Hindi, hindi si Jer." Aniya sa akin. Nagtaka ako roon at nangunot ang noo ko.
"It's his mother," Aniya.
My eyes widen. Napaayos ako ng tayo at niyakap ang libro ko.
"Kanina ka pa hinahanap." Aniya.
"A-Ako? Bakit... Bakit naman ako hahanapin?"
"Hindi ko alam," She held my hand. "Tara, puntahan natin."
I was nervous with my every step towards my boyfriend's mother. Parang lalabas ang puso ko sa aking dibdib habang hila ako ni Cess patungo sa may parking kung nasaan naroon ito.
Where is Ejercito? Magkasama kaya sila ng Mamá n'ya?
"Uhm, hello, Ma'am! Nandito na po si Lena." Ani Cecille sa isanv nakatalikod na ginang at nang humarap s'ya ay sumilay ang ngiti n'ya sa labi.
"Oh," She gasped, her hair is in an elegant french twist. Nakasuot s'ya ng kulay asul na dress at may perlas sa leeg.
"G-Good morning, Ma'am." Mahinang bati ko at alangang ngumiti.
"Good morning!" She smiled sweetly and I saw her took a glance at my friend and smiled. "Thank you rin, hija, for bringing Lena here. Can I borrow her first?"
"Oh... Of course po!" Cecille smiled and took glance at me. "Mauuna na po ako."
"Thanks, hija! If you see my son, don't tell him I kidnapped his girlfriend. Yari ako doon!" She giggled.
Mas kumabog ang puso ko nang mawala na si Cecille at bumaling sa akin ang magandang ginang at matamis na ngumiti.
"You're Leona Harriet, I see." She stared at me. "My son has taste, huh? I like it."
I blinked, nakita kong napansin n'yang tensyonado ako kaya natawa s'ya at umiling.
"Oh, no, hija. I am not that strict mother from mexican telenovelas!" She exclaimed with an accent.
Napangiti naman ako roon at sumulyap sa kanya.
"U-Uhm... Bakit n'yo po ako gusto makausap, Ma'am?" I asked her gently.
"Ma'am is too formal, call me Auntie." She smiled.
"U-Uhm, Auntie..." I murmured. "Auntie Alice?"
"Oh, you know me!" Masayang sabi n'ya. "Did my son mentioned me to you?"
"A lot of time, Auntie." I chuckled. "He said you're an awesome mother."
"Oh, that's too sweet!" Her black eyes twinkled. "Nga pala, hija, I dropped here hoping if I can ask you for a coffee?"
"Coffee? Sure po!" Sagot ko kaagad.
"Great!" She chuckled and pulled me inside her car.
Auntie Alice is talking non-stop inside the car so I was really amused. Bumaba kami sa hindi kalayuang coffee shop at pagkatapos n'yang mag-order ng kape ay tahimik ko lang s'yang pinagmasdan.
She's really beautiful. Her eyes are round, long silky hair, elegant dress and amusing smile. She really is Ejercito's mother.
"So, hija." Pinagsiklop n'ya ang kamay at ngumiti sa akin. "How are you and my son?"
"Uhm... Paano n'yo po nalaman?" Maliit na boses kong tanong sa kanya.
"Kinulit ko ang anak ko," Tumawa s'ya. "Akala n'ya hindi ko malalaman? I teased him and he blushed. That's when I found out about you. Matagal ko ng alam na gusto ka n'ya actually, ngayon ko lang nalaman na hindi na pala torpe ang anak ko."
I smiled at that. Nang dumating ang kape ay sumimsim ako roon at nakitang nakatitig sa akin ang Mamá ni Ejercito.
"Hija," She started.
"Yes po?" Sumulyap ako.
"Actually," She sighed. "I came here for a favor."
Kumalabog ang dibdib ko sa sinabi n'ya.
"Uhm, you know we went to Cambridge last week, right?" Aniya. I nodded slowly, an idea slowly forming on my mind.
"Y-Yes po," I answered.
"You know he took an exam to Harvard? Law school?" She stared at me.
Mahina akong tumango at ngumiti sa kanya.
"Pumasa po, ano?" I tried cheering my voice up.
"I knew it! Sabi n'ya hindi pero alam kong papasa s'ya." I smiled happily but I felt my heart aching at that.
"Ayos...lang sa'yo na pumasa s'ya, hija?"
"Of course po," I said. "It's a big opportunity for him."
"Oh, I knew you'd understand me!" Napasinghap s'ya at unti-unting napangiti. "I was scared hindi ka papayag, naisip ko nga kanina kung paano ako hihingi ng pabor sa'yo."
"Ano po bang pabor?" I asked her.
"My son," He sighed. "Noong isang araw pa lumabas ang resulta na pumasa s'ya. We said we have to fix his papers so he can start studying after his graduation but no, he insisted of staying here!"
"I-Is that so?" I felt my heart ripping so I sipped on my coffee and stared at my hand and flashed a small smile.
"Ano pong pwede kong gawin?" I asked her, my voice almost break.
"I know this is somehow hard for you, hija." She reached for my hand. "But I know you'll understand me, I just want the best for my son. Hindi ko naman papakialaman ang mayroon kayo, I like you, Lena but you see, Ejercito needs to study there."
"I understand po," Marahang sinabi ko. "It's always been Jer's dream."
"Hindi ba?" She brushed her hair. "Ang anak ko talagang iyon, masakit sa ulo! Even his father is stressed! Alam mo naman ang asawa ko, gusto ring maging abogado ang anak kagaya n'ya? He keeps on telling him to go and study abroad pero nagmamatigas si Ejercito."
So... Is that the reason Jer wants to stay in school instead of going home?
"Hija... Sana, you can help us in convincing him." She squeezed my hand. "Ejercito will be a great lawyer someday, I know it. He'll be like his father."
Natahimik ako at sumulyap kay Auntie. She was so kind and as a mother I know she wants the best for her son. All mothers wants that.
Is it me who's stopping him from going abroad?
Sumikip ang dibdib ko at muling napasulyap kay Auntie na punong-puno ng pag-asa ang mata habang nakatitig sa akin.
"Please, hija? Can you please help us in convincing Jer?" She asked hopefully, her eyes twinkling.
I bit my lip and remembered Ejercito. It's always his dream to be a lawyer like his father. He always tells me he'll be a great lawyer and protect the poor and weak.
Can I take that dream away from him?
"Lena... Hija, please?" Auntie Alice pouted and a sad smile left my lips and nodded slowly.
"I-I'll try, Auntie." I answered and sighed.