It was already dark when Pippa woke up from her nap. She groped for her phone to check the time. She got up with a start when she noticed that it was already early evening! When she managed to fall asleep, her system, it seems just shut down. Her tummy grumbled. She is very hungry. She had not had any meal since the sandwich she ate at Batangas Port before she boarded the ferry to Puerto Galera.
When she went inside the room earlier, she felt hungry, but didn’t have the energy to go down again and find something to eat. She looked for some crackers in her bag, ate it and drank the rest of the Coke. Soon after, her eyes became heavy and her body just collapsed apparently, maybe because of the emotional upheaval in her life!
Pippa also noticed that she had several messages on her phone. Six from Martin, which she quickly ignored, and two from her mother. Martin also called twice! Her mother informed her that she and Manang Doray will stay overnight in Calapan as they had a problem with the car and the driver needs to have it repaired the following morning. Her mother also told her that her cousin Belinda who is managing their resort can stay in the house for the night to keep her company.
Pippa texted her mother back and told her that it is also okay if she will stay at home alone since she is used to living alone. She have been doing so since she was in college. She lives alone in her condo unit in Quezon City.
Having learned that she will be on her own, Pippa decided to get up to make herself dinner. But before she finds something to eat, she decided to take a quick shower first. Several minutes after, wearing a long, flowing summer dress, she walked barefoot towards the kitchen. She noticed a light coming from that direction. She got nervous. She was supposed to be alone at home! Pippa grabbed one of her mother’s tall vases and then proceeded to the kitchen. She stopped at the doorway and saw that it was just Ethan having dinner!
“Dito ka rin ba nakatira?” Pippa asked him, relieved that it was just him and not an intruder, at the same time, her curiousity was back.
Ethan looked at Pippa, saw the big vase she was holding and gave her a heartmelting grin. “Hi again Philippa. So, akala mo magnanakaw ako?”
Pippa looked at the vase she was holding, put it down, then walked towards the kitchen, smiling. “Or much worse! Can you blame me. I’m supposed to be alone in the house. Hindi makakauwi sina Mommy at Manang Doray. May problema raw sa car. Saka, hindi ko nga alam kung sino ka talaga. Pasalamat ka, Mom told me that you will be around.”
“Oh, that’s bad. But I’m sure Manong Ben can handle that. Tita Marianne told you about me then?” Ethan asked, curious what her mother told Pippa. “By the way, are you hungry? I can make you another peanut butter sandwich. That’s the extent of my talent in the kitchen, I’m afraid. That is why I’m here. Tita Marianne insisted that I should eat my meals here in the main house.”
“So, hindi ka pala nakatira dito sa house? Doon ka pala nag-stay sa cottage?” Pippa asked. “About dinner, I’ll see what I can make for us. Hindi naman tayo mabubusog sa peanut butter sandwiches. Halos 24 hours na ring walang laman ang tummy ko.”
Pippa opened the fridge and looked inside again. She saw some eggs, cheese and when she checked the freezer, she found several packs of bacon. “How about an omelette?”
“Sounds good!” Ethan said with a big grin. “Can I help? I can chop the onions and grate the cheese.”
“Okay. Thanks.” Pippa took six eggs from the fridge, cracked and dropped them in a big bowl. She beat the eggs after putting a pinch of salt and a dash of ground pepper into the bowl.
Pippa and Ethan worked companionably and in harmony. Several minutes after, they have a plate each of bacon and cheese omelette before them and some toasted bread. They dove into their food. Both were very hungry so they ate everything in one sitting, not really chatting in between.
“That was good and very filling. Lovely to have something in my tummy other than peanut butter.” Ethan remarked after he polished off the last of the omelette from his plate. “Thank you very much, Philippa!”
“Oh, do call me Pippa! Philippa is too long and a bit of an unusual name, especially here in Puerto Galera!” Pippa said. “And you’re welcome.”
“I will hazard a guess, Tita Marianne named you after the British novelist Philippa Gregory?” Ethan said.
“Yes, I was named after her. She is my mother’s favorite author and she was into her book when she was pregnant with me.” Pippa said as she took the plates to the sink. Ethan stood up to help, but she gestured that she will just do the dishes. “I don’t know how I ended up being Pippa, though. I guess it is because it’s a common nickname for Philippa in England, di ba?
“It’s a pretty name and it suits you. I have a Swedish friend also who named her child Philippa and uses the nickname Pippa.” Ethan said. “Do you want some coffee? That I know how to make!”
“Sure. Thanks.” Pippa said and decided to ask Ethan a bit more about him since he seems to be in a chatty mood. “What’s you last name Ethan?”
Ethan looked at Pippa and for some reason, he decided to let her know more about him. For sure, Tita Marianne will tell her anyway a little about him. He also drawn to this beautiful, poised lady for reasons he can’t explain. He just feels a connection to her, which is weird as he barely knows her. Sure her mother talked a lot about her but this is the first time they met.
“It’s Bowman. My Dad is English. My Mum is a Filipina kaya I speak Filipino rin. She taught my sister and I. She and Tita Marianne were very good friends while at university in Manila but they have lost touch when she moved to England to work as a nurse. Maybe, she mentioned my mother to you, Virginia Benitez?” He said as he put ground beans into the coffee maker and started it.
“Tita Virgie is your mother?” Pippa was surprised. She met her mother’s friend briefly in Greenbelt one evening when she accompanied her mother to where they will have dinner. Since it was their lakad, she just told her mother to text her when she is done so she can fetch her. On the way home, they also dropped Tita Virgie at The Manila Peninsula where she was staying with her husband. “I met her one evening, four years ago. Mom and her had dinner in Makati after their reunion. She told Mom and I that she has two kids, both working in London.”
“Oh, you met Mum then! Yes, she went home that time to attend her university’s grand alumni homecoming and also to have a short vacation with Dad. I think they went to Boracay. They booked it before they left London, otherwise, they would have ended up here, knowing then that your mother owns a beach resort.” Ethan said as he gave Pippa a steaming cup of coffee. “And the other kid would be my sister Allison, Ally for short. She works as a buyer for Harrods!”
“Oh really? That sounds interesting! And you, what do you do?” Pippa asked, stirring two spoonfuls of sugar into her coffee, while she noticed Ethan didn’t put any!
“I’m a Software Engineer. Geek guy extraordinaire, at your service!” Ethan said smiling. “I’m one of those computer nerds.”
Pippa smiled at that, then before she could stop herself, she blurted out, “Oh, you don’t look like one. Para ka ngang model out of the pages of GQ.” Then she blushed at what she said.
Ethan saw Pippa blushed and she is cute. He decided to put her at ease. “You should have seen me 10 years ago, when I was at university, you wouldn’t say that. I had long hair and wore grungy clothes.”
Pippa smiled, unable to imagine this handsome, clean cut guy who looks like Matthew Goode as a grungy geek. Since Ethan gave her an out, she decided to shift the conversation to another topic. “So how come a geek guy from London ended up living here at my mother’s cottage? I guess for over a month na. You are a long way from home!”
The smile disappeared from Ethan’s face. Pippa’s question jolted him back to the reason why he left England six months ago, until he ended up here in Mindoro. For a while, he forgot about it, enjoying her company. He was debating on how he could change the topic, or what answer he could give her when her phone rang.
Pippa saw Ethan’s change of expression when she asked what she thought was an innocent, getting to know you more, question. The ringing of her phone broke into the now uneasy silence between them. She checked who was calling and winced. She pressed the decline button, and was about to say something to Ethan when it rang again.
“Ethan, would you please excuse me.” Pippa said. Maybe it is better to pick up the call and have some peace.
Ethan nodded and gestured for Pippa to take the call.
“Yes, Martin!” Pippa said as she moved towards the direction of the back terrace. “I thought I made it clear to you that we have nothing to talk about….”
That was the last words that Ethan heard. So, it would seem that he is not the only one who came to this place to heal after a love affair gone bad. He doesn’t know yet what happened to Pippa’s but his was bad, very bad!