Ethan saw Pippa shivered. They have been sitting by the beach for more than two hours already. The wind has gotten stronger and the night cooler. He and Pippa have nursed two bottles each of the drink of their choice while chatting about anything and everything under the sun, except about very personal stuffs. As if by silent agreement, they avoided talking about love and relationships that night.
“Pippa, are you cold?” Ethan asked solicitously.
“Yes, a little bit. Medyo lumamig na ang gabi.” Pippa said, trying to rub her arms to keep warm.
Ethan rubbed his hands together, creating fiction, making them warm, then he gestured for Pippa to put hers in between his. Pippa did and she her cold hands felt relief. She felt warmer.
“Better?” Ethan asked, enclosing her hands in his, totally. “I used to do this when I felt very chilled after I was out walking in the cold.”
Pippa nodded. She likes the feel of their hands together. Pippa, she scolded herself, no relationships for now, remember. “Thank you, Ethan. I don’t think I will survive living in a country with winter. Madali akong lamigin.”
“That’s what some of my mother’s family also said when they visited us for Christmas. But they survived. It is a matter of putting on the right clothes, I guess.” Ethan said. “Humas do adapt and adjust to the environment thy found themselves in.”
“Hmmm, you have a point. Hindi ko pa rin naman kasi na-try. When I went to New York before for a study grant, hindi naman natapat na winter.” Pippa said. “I think we better head home.”
“I guess, we should.” Ethan agreed. He stood up and brought back the empty bottles to Belle. He told her that he and Pippa are heading back to the main house. Pippa also waved and said good night at her cousin. She felt very sleepy by then.
Pippa and Ethan walked back to the house, holding hands like they did on the way to the bar, debating about languages, on whether it is easier to learn multiple languages as a child or when one is older. The conversation shifted to Filipinos and the talent for learning languages, even accents. Ethan also told Pippa of having to use hand gestures when he was in a place where English was not spoken at all. Pippa laughed at Ethan’s anecdotes. Before the two of them realized, they were already at the veranda of the main house.
“Ethan, thanks a lot for the company this evening.” Pippa said. “You’ve helped me. I’m sorry if I can’t speak about it yet.”
“I had fun too, Pippa. You are a very fun person to be with. Thank you very much as well for the company. I had a lovely evening.” Ethan said, looking at Pippa intently. Then as if hesitating a bit, then making up his mind, he spoke again. “I have a proposal, and don’t get me wrong please, would you allow me to sleep in the main house this evening? I will feel better that you are not alone in this big house. Hindi rin naman ako makakatulog sa cottage with you alone in here.”
Pippa, thought about what Ethan is proposing, and while she is used to being alone, she does not want to be completely alone that evening too.
“Okay, you may stay here!” Pippa said. “Wait, I will check if the guest room beside my room is okay. Baka kasi magulo.”
“Thanks Pippa! I’ll go up with you then.” Ethan said. The truth is he does not want to go back also to his lonely cottage.
They checked the room and finding it in order, Pippa went to her room. She dug into her cabinet and found one of her oversized t-shirts. She knocked back at Ethan’s room.“Ethan, here, you can borrow one of my old t-shirts for sleeping.” Pippa handed Ethan the t-shirt.
“Thanks a lot Pippa. Now I can definitely take a shower before heading to sleep. Tita Marianne has put a complete set of toiletries in the bathroom.” Ethan said, smiling, while getting the t-shirt from Pippa. “I already checked.”
“That’s Mom! May pagka-OC!” Pippa said smiling. “I’ll say good night then, Ethan. Sweet dreams.”
“To you too, Pippa! Good night!” Ethan said giving Pippa a bright smile.
Pippa and Ethan both went to their respective rooms, preparing for bed. Pippa felt better that Ethan was just in the next room. Ethan was happy that he was still, somehow, with Pippa.
Several hours later, Pippa was jolted from sleep as she heard someone shouting. She listened and realized it was coming from the room Ethan was occupying. She grabbed the letter opener from her study table instinctively, and proceeded to check what was it all about.
“Claudia!!! No please, Claudia!!! Why did you do this? Why?….Why?….” Pippa heard Ethan saying over and over when she opened the door. His body was tangled in the bed sheet and he kept shaking his head. She deduced then that Ethan was having a nightmare.
“Ethan!!! Ethan, wake up! You are just dreaming. Wake up, please Ethan!” Pippa said urgently, going near Ethan but not touching him. She was afraid to make an overt move as she does not know how Ethan will react if she touch him while he is still in the throes of that bad dream. After her several tries, he opened his eyes.
“Pippa?” Ethan was startled to see Pippa by his bed. “What are you doing here? May emergency ba?” He also checked the time and discovered that it was three o’clock in the morning.
“Ethan, are you okay? You were having a nightmare, I think. Sumisigaw ka kasi kanina.” Pippa said. “You were shouting a name, Claudia?”
“Oh” was all Ethan managed to say. So he was back having the same nightmare! It has not happened since he moved to Puerto Galera a month ago. Maybe, meeting Pippa brought it back to the surface since he is attracted to her and that he thought about relationships again.
“I haven’t had this since after I moved here.” Ethan remarked.
“You mean, you’ve had this nightmare before? Sobrang balisa ka kaya kanina. I almost panic kasi parang sobrang sama ng panaginip mo! May I ask who is Claudia? Is there any way I could help.” Pippa asked, one after the other. She did get worried seeing Ethan like that, pain contorting his face as he called on Claudia.
Ethan, at that time, almost tell Pippa that not only he was having a bad dream, it was like reliving all over again something that had happened seven months ago. He thought he was dealing with it well, until the recurrence of the nightmare this evening.
“Claudia was my girlfriend.” Ethan finally said softly. Since Pippa heard him shouting her name and because she is already a friend to him in the short time he had known her, she ought to know what he could tell her at that moment. “She died seven months ago. I’m sorry, Pippa if that is all I can say for now. As you have probably sensed, there are unresolved issues in my life. But if I will tell it to anyone, it would be you. I have known you in less than 24 hours but it does not feel that way. Parang matagal na tayong magkakilala.”
Pippa was touched at what Ethan said. She feels the same and she understands. “Thank you for telling me Ethan. And I completely understand. Basta, nandito lang ako if you want to talk. I also have stuffs to deal with and I appreciate you not prying about it last night.”
“Thank you very much, Pippa. I appreciate it.” Ethan said. “Ditto! If you feel like you need someone to talk to, I’m just here.”
“No worries. Thank you also. Diyan ka muna, I will get you a glass of water ha.” Pippa offered. “Or would you like a glass of warm milk. It was what Mom used to give me when I had a bad dream.” She added smiling.
“Pippa, I can do it.” Ethan objected, getting out of the bed, wearing the t-shirt Pippa loaned him and his boxers shorts.
“I’ll do it, Ethan. Iinom din ako ng water.” Pippa said. “Dito ka na lang. What would you like pala, water, milk or something stronger? I think I can find something at the bar by the veranda.”
“Oh, nothing like that. Just water, please.” Ethan said. “Many thanks, Pippa.”
Pippa returned several minutes later with a glass of water which she handed to Ethan.
“Thanks a million, Pippa.” Ethan said again smiling at her. Then he drank the water in one gulp.
“You’re welcome. Sige, I will go back to sleep na.” Pippa said, getting Ethan’s empty glass also with the intention of putting it back to the kitchen before heading back to bed. Sleep will be difficult now, but it is still very early, even by Puerto Galera standards to get up and walk around. “Good night, Ethan. I hope you will sleep better.”
Pippa was almost at the door of the room when Ethan called her back. The thought of being alone in the room was getting to him. He doubts if he can’t sleep with the nightmare in his mind.
“Pippa, would it be okay if you keep me company?” Ethan asked from the bed. “I doubt if I could sleep soon. That is, if it is okay with you. I promise to be a gentleman.” He finished, wanting to assure Pippa that he has no other motives, just wanting her company.
Pippa looked at Ethan and his pleading expression. She also saw a vulnerability in him which she thinks he normally hides from the outside world. In the short time she had known him, she feels comfortable with him. For reasons she can’t fathom yet, she trusts him.
“Okay.” Pippa said, smiling.
“Thank you, Pippa!” Ethan said, happy. He also moved to give Pippa a space on the bed. “I promise, I’ll be good. Gentleman’s honour! And in my Mum’s name!”
Pippa took a deep breath when she approached the bed. She got a bit self-conscious. This will be the first time she will share a bed with a guy, no matter how innocent it is. She has never been alone with Martin like this, nor was she in a situation like this with her boyfriend while in college. But she believes Ethan.
“Okay, and beside, kapag nagloko ka, I still have my letter opener pa pala in my pocket.” Pippa teased him, fishing out the letter opener and showing it to Ethan. “Akala ko kasi someone was attacking you kanina.”
“Feel free to use that on me, Pippa if overstep the line.” Ethan assured her. “And thank you for your concern, Pippa. Pero be careful also when you hear a noise like that in the middle of the night kapag mag-isa ka lang. Di ba you told me you live alone? Your safety is more important.”
“Yes, I will. I’m normally cautious, and brave like that too. I can’t not check. But I get what you are saying.” Pippa, then sat on the bed, and like Ethan made herself comfortable by leaning against the headboard. “You know, we can watch a movie!” Pippa suggested. “Meron yatang mga DVD by the TV there!”
“Okay, we can do that.” Ethan agreed, then settled more comfortably into the bed.
Pippa found a DVD of The Avengers among the DVDs stacked by the TV and she loaded it. “Hmmm, I wonder who left the DVDs here. Hindi naman mahilig si Mom sa ganyang mga movie, lalo naman si Manang Doray. Meron pa ngang The Hobbit and Thor. We can watch either of that after this one, kung hindi ka pa antok.” Pippa said.
“Baka, it was left behind by one of your mother’s guests.” Ethan remarked. “Have you seen these movies before?”
“Yes, I did, but I wouldn’t mind seeing them again. I enjoyed watching those.” Pippa said as she too got under the blanket as the room becomes chilly. There was a respectable distance between her and Ethan as well as, by accident, a pillow in the middle.
They watched in companionable silence. In some instances, both were conscious of each other’s presence and that they were alone in a big bed in the middle of the night, but they tried very hard to get the thought out of their heads. By the time The Avengers were battling the Chitauri and Loki in New York, they were both nodding their heads off, until they fell into deep sleep. During the course of the night, or early morning, both of them unconsciously ended up in the middle of the bed.