The sun was pushing its way through the gray clouds making the weather better than the last few days. I filled my lungs with the cool air as I stepped outside our garden carrying my paint palette and an empty canvas. I usually stay at my mini studio whenever I’m able to give time for the artist in me. But today is too fine a day not to go out even just outside our door. Thank God for this rest day. This is one of those when I can spend all morning and afternoon at home. It is calm, peaceful… too peaceful that it’s actually… strange.
My phone pinged and excitement filled me as I took it out from my smock’s pocket. I groaned in frustration when I read the text message which I thought was from him.
We haven’t seen each other for more than a week since the Christmas Special. I miss him. We’ve been so busy that we barely talked to each other since then.
I sighed and put my phone back in my pocket. I might as well make myself busy. I looked around our garden. Mom has been growing flowers and it’s the first time I noticed how beautiful they’ve grown. There were hanging plants and the orchids are in pretty white and rich purple. Combination of yellow and maroon marigolds grew on each side of the driveway and the flowerbeds near the entrance were in lush red and pink, combination of roses and carnation. How I wish we could grow tulips too.
I lifted my paint palette and chose a paintbrush. I stopped even before the first stroke when My Angel’s car drove by and parked beside the house. I took my smock off and ran to the entrance.
“Hey,” I greeted him smiling, wondering at the same time if he’s feeling the same way, if he missed me too. Wala naman kasi kaming usapan na magkikita. “Akala ko nasa taping ka ngayon,”
He didn’t answer and followed me when I walked back to the garden. When I turned around I found his brooding eyes intently staring at me.
“What brings you here? Miss mo na rin ako, ‘no?” I asked while touching his face. He closed his eyes. Other times he’d hold my hand holding his face and kiss it, or pull me for a long embrace. But I felt him stiffen. He stood there like a statue, his face bleak of any emotion.
“I won’t take long. May… kailangan lang akong sabihin sa ‘yo,”
My eyebrows curled at his tone. “Ano ‘yon?”
He swallowed a few times. His fists were clenching on his sides and his eyes suddenly can’t focus on me.
“I’m sorry. I thought this would work pero hindi pala.”
It took a few seconds for my brain to register what he just said. “W—what?” What’s not working? Maybe my ears are.
“I’m…” He took a deep breath and looked away. “I can’t be with you anymore…”
“I… I don’t think I understand…”
Finally, he tried to look at me. “This isn’t about you. This is all on me. You see, things aren’t the way they were before.” he closed his eyes tightly and held his nape. “I couldn’t think of an easier way to say this pero—,”
I laughed. I tried to humor everything even though panic and disbelief suddenly filled my chest. “Ikaw, ha? Nangti-trip ka na naman. What is it this time—,”
“There’s someone else!”
I gasped aloud. For seconds, I found it hard to breathe. His voice was loud and clear that I can’t pretend I didn’t hear it even if I want to.
This can’t be true…
There was silence that took forever until my paintbrush broke it. I didn’t even feel it fell from my hand. He was the first to speak.
“That night I… I tried to bring back the love…” staring at the ground, he shook his head weakly. “But I can’t lie to you anymore. I’m so sorry…”
I blinked a few times hoping he’d disappear from my eyes. I missed him so much that maybe I’m just daydreaming that he’s here. Or I must have been really dreaming. That’s it! This is one of those dreams I’m having whenever I miss him. Panaginip lang ang lahat ng ‘to. This is one terrible nightmare. This isn’t real. This couldn’t be…
“Why are you doing this?” after a light-year of deafening silence I finally found my words. I couldn’t even hear my own voice. “Tell me… ano’ng problema? May nagawa ba ako? Sila ba? Sinabihan ka na naman ba nila? Please, sabihin mo sa akin—,” I tried to reach for his arm but he stepped back. He doesn’t even want me to touch him as if I have some kind of a skin disease. I’d rather he thrust a dagger onto my heart. Perhaps that’ll be less painful…
My heart pounded violently against my chest. I covered my mouth and tried to suppress my cries. It’s happening again… it’s happening to me again.
There’s someone else! There’s someone else!
His voice echoed inside my head. My knees felt weak. My whole body went numb. I slowly sat down and closed my eyes. After a few seconds I opened them again. I looked around.
Suddenly the flowers lost their colors.
Suddenly those dark clouds seem to gather all around me.
Suddenly everything’s in a haze… and this bad, painful dream is nothing less but my reality…
“I have to go.” His voice was low and hoarse when he spoke that I could barely hear him.
“Goodbye, Baby Girl…”
I smiled poignantly at the endearment. He made me hear it for the last time…
“Thank you,” I answered in an above whisper. He stopped on his tracks and slowly turned around.
“At least you’ve been honest with me.” I bit my lip trying to hold back my tears. “Goodbye, Angel.”
He drew his breath, his jaw clenching that I could almost hear it. Then he walked towards me and bowed, kissing my forehead. “Take care of yourself.”
I watched him as he walked away, away from my life forever.
Minutes had passed but I was still staring at the entrance. In my heart of hearts I wished he’d come back running into my arms taking back what he said. But that didn’t happen. And my tears… they were unstoppable. They fell the moment he stepped out of our door.
My Angel… Why? How? Who…? I’m confused; dumbfounded… everything’s in a blur. I don’t want to believe him. Something’s not right. We were so happy. But maybe that was it. When we were together after the Christmas Special we were so happy that it was too good to be true. Totoo pala na kapag sobrang naging masaya, may malungkot namang mangyayari sa susunod.
Once again, my heart is filled with so many questions. Why is this happening? And why now? Should I run after him? Ask him more questions? What should I do?
I need more answers. I need explanations. Then I remembered what I saw that night during the Christmas Special. Maybe what he said was enough explanation for me… I think I already know who that ‘someone else’ is.
“I tried to bring back the love… but I can’t lie to you anymore…”
Unthinkingly, I went back to my room. I walked to my study table and opened the drawer. My hand trembled as I took the tiny velvet box. I inhaled with difficulty as I opened it and put the ruby ring on my left ring finger. I continued to sob. If only these tears would bring him back he should be here by now holding me in his arms. But they won’t. He will never come back.
That night was one of the happiest moments of my life, of our lives. We flew away. We danced and laughed and held each other like there’s no tomorrow. What made it more perfect? He offered me his love and his whole life. He asked me if I could spend the rest of my life with him…
Where are you?
Nandito na ako sa labas…
I bit my lip and pressed send. Hindi na siguro niya ako nahintay. It took me a while to tidy my things up dahil ang dami namin sa dressing room. It became a jungle earlier. Kung nagbihis pa siguro ako, lalo lang akong matatagalan.
I’m still wearing my gown. He told me not to take it off for some reason he wouldn’t tell me. I keep wondering what he’s up to again but I obeyed him nevertheless. I don’t know if we’re going somewhere. Basta ang sabi lang niya, susunduin niya ako.
Before going outside, I put on my overcoat and slipped on my pink Chucks to give my feet some rest from my tower-high pumps and platforms. I guess no one would even notice unless I lift the hem of my gown. And since halos wala naman nang tao sa parking area, I did just that.
I walked and looked around again. I couldn’t find his car. When I asked the security guard, he said he left with his crew half an hour ago. I groaned inwardly. I checked my phone and found no reply from him at all. He could have called or sent me a message kung talagang nauna na siya.
Sitting on one of the staircases I made myself busy typing him another text message. Maybe he went home first or dropped off someone and encountered traffic. A motorcycle suddenly came out from nowhere and stopped in front of me. The piece of black and silver-combined metal was such a beauty, huge and very manly; flawless as expected in a Ducati. I wonder who among the big bosses owns it. It makes me want to think of buying Dad or my brother or him something similar one day.
My eyes went back to my phone and before I pressed send it went dead.
“Seriously?!” I grunted and covered my face. Sa lahat naman ng oras, bakit ngayon pa ‘to nag-battery empty? I groaned inwardly. It’s my fault. I’ve been so busy preparing I forgot it needed charging.
“Need a ride, Miss?”
I raised my head when the rider of the Ducati spoke. His voice was so deep, masculine but gentle and very familiar, too familiar that my heart started beating rapidly.
He took time taking off his helmet. My Angel! He was gazing over me, his eyes smiling as he reached out his hand.
“Umiiyak ka na yata diyan,” He helped me stand up and pulled me right into his arms.
I sighed in relief as I embraced him. “Akala ko hindi mo na ako nahintay…”
“Pwede ba ‘yon? Kanina ko pa gustong gawin ‘to…” he whispered on my hair, his lips slightly touching my upper neck. He let go and stole a quick kiss from my lips. He handed me another helmet which I noticed for the first time. I instinctively took it from his hands.
“Gear up, My Queen. Be ready for a long ride,”
My eyes widened as I stared at the big bike for a while. “Are you serious?! ‘Yan ang sasakyan natin?”
He grinned and didn’t answer.
“Why do you like to torture me?” I looked at myself. “Pasasakayin mo ako na ganito ang suot ko?”
“That’s the idea,” He chuckled and took the helmet from my hand. He carefully put it on me. “You’re overly cute, Baby Girl,”
I rolled my eyes and looked at myself at the side mirror. The helmet’s pink, the same color as my Chucks. I turned around and found him staring at me, his eyes never leaving my face.
“What are you really up to, Mister?” I asked, raising an eyebrow.
He didn’t answer and straddled the huge bike. I sat in astride on his back and put my tote bag in front of me. I clutched his shoulder not so gently when I almost fell as he drove and we went away from the building.
Laughing, he turned around and looked at me. “Hold on tight, Love. Never let me go.”
“I won’t. Promise,” I answered and put my arms around his waist.
We rode into the night, the cold breeze hitting against us as we headed out of the city. I smiled on his back. I feel like we’re a modern-day Lady and Knight who rode and escaped from everyone in this wee hour of the evening. It’s kind of romantic, and thrilling.
My arms around him tightened. I can feel his muscles ripping underneath his leather jacket. I closed my eyes and leaned my head on his broad, sinewy back, drawing warmth from it. After a long night I wouldn’t wish for anything more but this, being with him… being safe in his arms.
It’s been a long day for me, for all of us. General rehearsals started so early and have been excruciating but we’re all glad the Christmas Special went so well. All our efforts paid off. And I’m still ecstatic that I got to sing with music icons, two of my idols and with one of my closest friends.
Earlier during practice I made a few common mistakes though I already know the songs by heart and the arrangements. I want to blame it on my jetlag or the hangover from my Brazil trip kaya hindi ako makapag-focus, pero isa lang naman talaga ang dahilan kung bakit lumilipad ang isip ko kanina pa.
My mind is filled with him… his effect on me every time he’s near; his smoldering eyes, his sweet and soft lips, his warm embrace, his lingering kisses… his body against mine. The way he holds me, the way he touches me… the sweet torture he gave me when we almost… almost made love.
Yes, I still can’t get over with what happened in my dressing room. That enchanted moment where time stood still and we forgot everything, everyone— time and the world around us; and all that’s left is our deep longing and need for each other…
I missed him. It’s only been a few days but I was dying to see him again. When he took me home that night he couldn’t stay longer. I missed talking to him. Tonight as usual, we were contented exchanging smiles every time we passed by each other.
Before our closing number we crossed paths at the corridor. His eyes were smiling when he looked at me as if telling me how proud he was watching my last performance. I bowed and avoided his gaze but I was sure he caught me smiling.
When I reached the dressing room I turned around to look at him before I closed the door. There I saw him talking with Ate. He was gazing down fondly at her while Ate was laughing gaily. My brows curled. I wonder what they’re talking about. Is it about me, probably?
He said something that made Ate stopped laughing. Her face turned serious but she was still intently staring at him. She held his arm longer than necessary, and her hand gently caressed his biceps as she pouted her pretty lips.
My eyebrows rose at that. For the first time I didn’t get jealous like whenever he’s with other girls. More of uncomfortable… I felt very uncomfortable seeing that…
Ate left him and he watched her as she strutted off, her hips sashaying as if they would detach. Then he left and went back to his dressing room when she was gone.
I wonder where the sudden tightening of my chest came from. What was that just now? Am I just seeing things or—
Hindi, I said to myself and shook my head. Hindi dapat ako nag-iisip ng ganito pero… babae din kasi ako. That look on Ate’s face when she looked at him… when did it change?
“Oh!” I opened my eyes when the bike wobbled a bit. That interrupted my thoughts. Strange, nakalimutan ko na ‘yon after our show. Bakit ba naalala ko na naman?
“Sorry. ’You okay?” he asked and started to slow down. I nodded as if he could see me.
“Saan ba talaga tayo pupunta?” I shouted on his ear. It’s been almost an hour. I’m not sure but I think we’re heading to Angeles City.
“Malapit na tayo. You’ll see.”
He drove a few kilometers more. To my surprise, we entered an airfield. My heart skipped a bit. The excitement I felt was instantaneous.
“We’re here, Love,” He assisted me as I painstakingly got off the big bike. He helped me took my helmet off before unzipping his leather jacket. I found he still has the blue suit under, the one he wore earlier during their production number.
A pilot welcomed us and introduced himself as our pilot for the night. We shook hands with him and I noticed the obvious admiration on his face. He said his daughters love me and how he wished he could take pictures of us. I told him that maybe one Sunday they could visit my show.
He led us to the hangar and went ahead to one of the helicopters. My heart started beating double time as we followed. After briefing us shortly he accompanied us to our seats and made sure we’d follow all the safety measures.
“Oh, Lord,” I clutched Angel’s arm as the helicopter started lifting off the ground, higher and higher until we’re cloud-level.
“Are you alright?” he looked at me and grinned. “’Di ba gusto mong sumakay tayo sa helicopter?”
“Oo nga, pero… kasi…” I have no words. This is too wonderful. He IS too wonderful…
“Are you scared? May fear of heights ka ba?” he asked a little worried.
I shook my head. “I’m… I’m just overwhelmed.” I gave his lips a quick peck. “Thank you…”
“Woah, Babe. Easy,” he moved away a little, astounded. He held his headset and pointed mine. “The pilot can hear us. Later, okay?”
He laughed aloud. I gently hit his shoulder. My face turned red for sure.
We flew for an hour hovering all over the city and the whole town. I left the country just recently and though long I enjoyed the plane ride. Pero iba pala ang saya kapag ganito. It doesn’t matter really where he takes me, or how long or short we spend time together… basta siya ang kasama ko, I’m happy; very happy.
We landed at a condo building’s helipad in Makati. He offered his hand to me as we got off the chopper, his eyes gleaming with happiness and love. “How was it, Love? Nag-enjoy ka ba?”
I nodded and pulled off a smile while I gave my hand to him. “It was exhilarating… and really wonderful— ay!” He suddenly pulled me for an embrace and buried his face on my hair.
“Now I know how it feels like to be in heaven,” he whispered and kissed my neck.
Our pilot was smiling while watching us. We said our thanks and as a reply he saluted at us before heading back to the Flying Club.
“Bakit dito niya tayo inihatid? At paano ‘yung bike mo?”
“I just borrowed that from a friend. At tagaroon siya kaya siya na lang daw ang kukuha ng bike niya. At ang pilot natin kanina, kaibigan niya ‘yon.”
“I see. But how did you know that place, by the way? Ang alam ko sa mga ganoon, members lang ang may access, ang may luxury pass…”
He shrugged. “One of the senior officers there is Dad’s long-time friend. Alam mo na, connections,” he grinned and winked at me. I nodded and laughed.
“Hindi mo pa sinasagot ang unang tanong ko… what are we doing here?”
He gazed at me for a while. “Are you ready for the second surprise, My Queen?”
I looked at him suspiciously. “Hmm… what are you up to this time, Mister?”
He didn’t answer and pulled my hand. We occupied one of the elevators and went four floors down. We turned to a room on our left as soon as we went out. He took out a card key from his wallet. “I bought a unit here, Love,”
“Ah, Talaga? I didn’t know you have plans of moving.”
“Wala pa naman. Naisip ko lang na habang ipinapatayo ko ang dream house ko, dito muna kami ng mapapangasawa ko.” His stare was so full of meaning. “Sort of a wedding gift for her, too.”
I… I see,” I felt nervous all of a sudden. And I really wasn’t paying attention to what he was saying. Ano ang ‘second surprise’ niya? Kaming dalawa…? Dito…?
“Close your eyes,” he commanded gently, disrupting my wayward thoughts. “Don’t peek, okay?”
I nodded and do as he said.
He opened the door and pulled both my hands as he stepped in. “Now… open them.”
I slowly opened my eyes only to gasp aloud.
The whole unit was vacant and I was expecting it to be empty, all walls and floors. Pero hindi ganoon. In the middle was a table for two, dinner with candlelight and wine. The white tiled floor was almost filled with flower petals and colorful little candles just like the ones he gave me as a gift months ago.
I covered my face with my hands. And here I thought that the helicopter ride was perfect. It could have been enough. Pero may ganito pa pala? I can’t complain. He really makes me feel like a queen.
“A—ano’ng meron? How did you… at paanong…” Lord, I’m lost for words again. I sat comfortably when he pulled a seat for me.
“I just want us to have our own Christmas Special.” He grinned. “I asked my boys to help me out. Hindi mo ba nagustuhan?”
“Are you kidding? I really love it!”
“I’m glad,” he chuckled while he took his coat off. He put his phone on the table and played a song. The Righteous Brothers’ voices suddenly filled the air, singing one of my all-time favorite songs.
“Unchained Melody?” I asked when he walked back towards me. He reached for my hand. His other hand went on my waist when I stood up and we started dancing.
His smile was wide. “One of my many songs for you,”
“But that song is so sad…”
“Not for me…” he turned me around before dipping me. I shrieked when he pulled me back and lifted me inches from the ground, spinning me round and round.
“Hey, mabigat ako!” I exclaimed and that made him stop. He put my arms on his shoulders and pulled me closer, whispering to my ear.
“I can carry you all day, Love…”
We held each other silently for minutes that we weren’t really dancing at all. His lips were on my ear as he sang along to the song. I smiled. In fairness, nasa tono naman siya minsan.
The song ended and I thought he’d let me sit. My eyes widened when my version of the same song played next.
“What? I really loved it.” he said as if answering the question in my eyes. I could feel my cheeks turning red. “I have a copy of all the songs you sang in your show. Bakit ka pa ba nagugulat?”
“Thank you sa appreciation mo sa mga songs ko… sa performances ko.”
“Sinabi ko naman sa ‘yo, ‘di ba? I’ll always be your number one fan.”
I smiled, treasuring his words in my heart. He kissed my hair as I leaned my head on his chest.
“Naalala mo ba ang pinag-usapan natin bago ka umalis?” His arms around me tightened as he spoke.
“Hmm… alin doon?”
He sighed and released me. As he was removing the long locks covering my face he looked straight into my eyes. “Sabi mo kasi sa akin, mag-propose muna ako bago ako mamanhikan.”
I was about to say something when he suddenly knelt down and took a tiny velvet box out from his pocket. Oh, God! So this is the highlight of the night!
My heart started beating fast as I watched him opening the box carefully. The ruby ring reflected the light from the candles and it was breathtakingly beautiful; as beautiful and breathtaking as the man carrying it.
“Baby Girl… My Queen…”
He cleared his throat a few times. His hands were trembling and it was cold but he’s sweating. And I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.
“Damn it,” he scratched his head, cursing himself at the same time. “Nakalimutan ko ang sasabihin ko! Ilang beses na ako nag-practice!”
I laughed and walked closer to him. He held my hand and put the ring on my left ring finger.
“My sun shines and sets on you, Love. I love you, deeply, irrevocably; with all I am, with all I’ll be…”
He stood up and put my hand on his chest, his eyes begging when he looked at me. “Kasabay ng pagtanggap mo ng singsing na ‘to, would you accept me as well as your man, your best friend, your fan, lover and soon… your husband? Please… yes or yes lang ang pwedeng sagot…”
“Yes or yes lang?” I chuckled, mimicking him. Oh, Lord, what am I going to say? Speechless is an understatement. And I love him too, indescribably, unconditionally…
I looked at him as tears stung my eyes. I nodded slowly. “Of course, Love… I want nothing and no one else in my life but you. Only you. Always…”
He beamed and embraced me, so tight it almost crushed my bones. I screamed when he lifted me and swirled me again and again.
“Thank you! Thank you, My Queen!” he put me down and held my face with both hands. “I love you so much. And I promise you I will love and cherish you forever… I will protect you with my life. I promise…”
He sealed his promise with a kiss. His lips on mine were yearning, passionate… so full of love. It was a kiss that I longed for, a kiss I can no longer live without; but now I have to forget. He was gone. He broke his promises. They will never come about.
“Sinabi ko sa sarili ko na baka ikaw na ang babae para sa akin… ngayon sigurado ako na ikaw na nga…”
“…I have the rest of my life to prove to you, to them that I’m the only man for you… that you can believe.”
“…you’re my NOW and my future. Please, trust me on this, Baby Girl.”
“Gusto kong maging karapat-dapat para sa ‘yo. I want to give you the whole world, My Queen…”
I smiled at his wonderful words, our beautiful, bittersweet memories. I can already picture my future with him. But now I realized memories are all I’ll be taking there with me.
“…one with a huge rock on it, and the other, I’ll give you… together with my last name.”
Wiping my tears, I took off the ring and put the tiny box back in my drawer. I curled up at the edge of my bed, hoping that before the day ends, all my tears have gone dry.
“I promise you I will love and cherish you forever… I will protect you with my life. I promise…”
Forever… since he came into my life I knew a deeper meaning of that word. Together I thought we’re going to make our dreams come true… together we will build them. But all of a sudden that FOREVER we’ve been trying to build came crumbling down— and here I am standing; staying by the ruins…
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
A/N: Dear readers, long time long time! :) Sorry I’ve been away for a long while… away but not gone. ;) This is the first part of my three-part finale. Thank you again in advance for reading this! ♥ Again, If you wish to copy/share/post this on your FB/ blog, just don’t forget to leave credit where it’s due. Thank you! :)