Ethan returned to the place where he parked the motorcycle when he can’t see Pippa’s ferry anymore from where he stood by the harbor. He felt at a lost on what to do next. Before Pippa came into his life, he had established a routine for himself in Puerto Galera. Now, he can’t think of any of those. Finishing what he was reading does not appeal to him, nor does developing new game programs. He was mulling his options when he heard someone called him.
“Ethan! Hello! What brings you to town so early?” Tristan asked from his left. He was carrying a brown paper bag from the local bakery.
“Hi Tristan! I took Pippa here. How are your patients? I hope they are all doing well and on the way to recovery! How’s the driver of the jeepney?” Ethan replied, sitting on the motorcycle seat leisurely to chat with the doctor.
“They are all doing okay. Nakalabas na ang karamihan nang nadala sa clinic. The driver will need to stay in the clinic, though, for several days pa since his injuries are more serious than the others, but he is out of harm’s way.” Tristan replied. “So, where’s Pippa? I would like to say hello and tell her I can probably make it back to the house this evening.”
“Oh, I thought she managed to send you an SMS before she left! Pippa went back to Manila unexpectedly. She needed to start the new program she will be producing. Her ferry just left.” Ethan explained. He was surprised that Pippa forgot to send a message to Tristan that she will go back to Manila that day!
“She returned to Manila already! Sayang naman, we didn’t really get to chat and touch base.” Tristan said, looking crestfallen. “Hindi kasi kami makaalis ni Josh yesterday! Anyway, if I’m free later, I will just say hello to Tita Marianne.”
“She will like it. For sure, she is a bit sad at the moment since Pippa just left. She was looking forward to have some bonding time with Pippa.” Ethan replied.
“Sige, I will do that. Babalik ka na ba sa bahay nila?” Tristan asked.
“Well, when you called me, I was thinking of what I would like to do next. I got used to hanging out with Pippa in such a short time, and now that she is gone, I’m at a loose end.” Ethan admitted.
“You and Pippa have really gotten close in such a short time, huh?” Tristan said, finding an opening to check if his reading of the situation is correct. “She is normally a bit reserve with people she just met.”
“She is a very nice person and I like her a lot.” Ethan replied. He knew what direction Tristan is taking. He was fishing for information on his and Pippa’s relationship. He saw him looking at them and wondering. Well, who can’t blame him, He saw them on the bed together, no matter how innocent it was.
“I enjoyed her company very much. She is beautiful inside out, sweet, level-headed, intelligent, and nurturing.” Ethan added, not realizing that to the other man, he looks like a man in love, or on the way there, when he said those things about Pippa.
“Wow, you have read Pippa like that when you have only known her for several days!” Tristan remarked, surprised at Ethan’s insight into Pippa. He now, is able to confirm that Ethan has developed feelings for Pippa.
“I feel like I have known her a long time. I guess, sometimes, really knowing someone does not really depends on how long you know a person, but rather on how you really connected and learned about each other’s innermost thoughts. That you just found yourself opening to that person. That kind of thing!” Ethan said, then turned serious, “I’ll be direct with you Tristan, as I know you are one of the friends she values, I like her a lot and I would like to get to know her more, and spend more time with her. Where it would lead us, I don’t know yet. But I would like to assure you that I will not hurt her, in any way.”
“Ethan, I have known Pippa most of her life. It was only the last couple of years that we haven’t been regularly in touch. In all the years I have known her, even as friends, we have never stayed in a room like you and she did. She must have like you a lot too and cared for you for her to do that.” Tristan told the other man. “And I will hold to that promise that you will not hurt her. In the end, everything is up to Pippa rin.”
“Really!” Ethan felt his heart skipped a beat at that revelation He also thought that it was something Pippa had not done before. He felt very happy. “I know you like her a lot too, Tristan. I saw you looking at her.”
“Well, yes, but she has not treated me like she had been treating you. She actually treats me like a friend or an older brother!” Tristan remarked. “But, I heard from Tita Marianne that she has a boyfriend in Manila.”
“Oh that, maybe you should ask Pippa about it.” Ethan simply said. “Maybe, you should give her a call. May I also offer a piece of unsolicited advice?” Ethan asked before he can’t stop himself. He is normally a reserve and let live person but ever since he started living in Mindoro, he started to loosen up, especially after meeting Pippa.
“Sure, but maybe, we should go inside that restaurant and have coffee and some food. I haven’t had breakfast.” Tristan suggested. “How about you?”
“I had breakfast with Pippa earlier as her ferry was delayed. But I could use another cup of coffee. Too early for a beer!” Ethan said smiling. “Besides, by the time we are finished, I would know what I would like to do next.”
Ethan and Tristan entered the restaurant and not a few ladies looked at the striking figures they created. Both of them tall and both are handsome in their own distinct way. Tristan has this boy next door look that had some of the ladies in the restaurant wanting to cook a hot dinner for him and take care of him. Ethan on the other hand, had that adventurous look on him that had the ladies longing to just ride a motorcycle somewhere with him, no questions asked!
Tristan ordered the same breakfast Pippa had, while Ethan just ordered a cup of brewed coffee.
“So, what was it you were supposed to advise me, Ethan?” Tristan asked while they were waiting for their orders.
“Oh, well, never mind that. Maybe, that was presumptuous of me. We haven’t really know each other that well for me to say something personal to you.” Ethan said.
“No, no, please continue. If Pippa likes you, then you should be okay. She is a pretty good judge of character.” Tristan assured Ethan.
Ethan likes the fact that Tristan said that Pippa likes him. “Well yes, I’m not a love guru or anything, the opposite in fact. But maybe, you should really think why you haven’t courted Pippa until now, despite the fact that you like her and the opportunities. I gathered that you haven’t right? Is it because you consider her to be a friend or is it because, she is just that – a friend and not really someone you like in a romantic way?”
Tristan just looked at Ethan after he said that. The food arrived, breaking into the sudden silence between them.
“See, I told you old chap, I maybe meddling into something very personal. My apologies! My only excuse is I like Pippa a lot, and you are a very dear friend to her.” Ethan said, not mentioning that he also know someone else who loves Tristan very much. Or he thought so! He was also wondering what came over him, doing that. That is really so unlike him! Maybe, he wants to play cupid between him and Belle whom he likes a lot too. She reminds him of his sister Ally.
“No, no, it’s okay.” Tristan said, assuring Ethan. Chewing his food thoughtfully, he said, “That’s something to think about. Thank you. So, when do you see Pippa next?” He decided to do probing of his own.
“Maybe in a couple of days! I’m heading to Manila soon to see a Belgian guy I became friends with. He stayed at The Cove too the first week I was here. We started talking some software development job I could take.” Ethan replied while sipping his coffee.
“Oh, you are thinking of staying here for good?” Tristan asked surprised.
“Well, I have been thinking more and more about it lately. I like it here, than England.” Ethan said. “My Mum’s family is from Davao. I still have some uncles and aunts and cousins there. I have seen them several times pa lang and I was too young to remember our visits there. But if I will stay here for good, I would like to have Puerto Galera as my base. I don’t mind living in Manila from time to time too.”
Tristan thought about what Ethan said. Then asked directly too, “Is Pippa a factor in that plan of yours?”
Now, it was Ethan’s time to look out thoughtfully, and processed what Tristan said. Then quietly, he said, after a while, “Yes”.
Tristan nodded, now knowing exactly where the lay of the land is. It seems like there was really a lot he had missed the past several days! Judging by the way Pippa is acting, even forgetting to text him that she is leaving Mindoro, Ethan’s feelings is not one sided.
They left the restaurant an hour later. After the silent understanding between them, their conversation shifted to the local happenings.
“O paano, Ethan, I will go back to the clinic na. Baka gusto mo munang dumaan and say hello to Josh.” Tristan said. “Iyon nga lang, mawawala na naman sa concentration ang mga nurse namin. It happens, every time you dropped by with Tita Marianne.”
Ethan just smiled. The nurses teased him a lot every time he passed by the clinic and pretended to fight over him. “Say hello to Susan and Marita and to Josh too. Now I know what I want to do, try to find a mobile phone.”
“You don’t have one?” Tristan asked.
“You are just like Pippa when I told her I don’t have one. I lost it in Thailand. I didn’t see any point in getting one until now.” Ethan said.
He may not say it, but Tristan know that Ethan’s decision to get one has something to do with Pippa again. “Well, I think you can get one here if you only need a basic one. But for a smart phone I think you may have to go to Batangas or Calapan for that.” Tristan said.
“Oh, I don’t need anything fancy. Just something I can use to call and send SMS. One of those phones where you don’t need a subscription plan.” Ethan said.
“Then, you might be able to find it in that store by the corner, near the church.” Tristan said.
“Okay, thank you.” Ethan said. “I’ll see you later if you make it to the house. Should I mention it to Tita Marianne?
“No, there’s no need for that. I will just give her a call.” Tristan replied. “See you.” He waved at Ethan, at the same time, mulling at what he said to him earlier.
Ethan found the shop and managed to find himself a nice phone, surprisingly. He both a SIM card and enough load cards for it. He is planning to call Pippa as soon as he gets her number from Tita Marianne.
More than 30 minutes later, he was back at Pippa’s house. He parked the motorcycle at its usual spot. He also noticed that Marianne’s car is back in the garage. So Manong Ben is back, he mused. He opened the front door with the key Marianne insisted that he has. The house looked empty. It’s very quiet. He turned towards the veranda and suddenly, he remembered the first time he saw Pippa standing there. He was staring at the garden when Marianne called him from the direction of the kitchen.
“Ethan, hijo, nakabalik ka na pala! Medyo natagalan ka yata.” Marianne said by way of a greeting.
“Hello Tita Marianne, na-delay po kasi iyong ferry ni Pippa. I waited with her na lang. Nag-breakfast na lang kami sa restaurant sa may harbor until the time she boarded. Then I saw Tristan in town. He said he will give you a call. I bought some things I needed also. By the way, these are for you and Manang Doray.” Ethan a bag to Marianne!
“Thank you for these Ethan.” Marianne saw ripe mangoes, grapes and avocado inside the bag and some pastries and pies. “Naku, favorite pa naman ni Manang Doray mo itong egg pie na binili mo. I’ll expect Tristan’s call then. Baka mamaya pa iyon tumawag.”
“No worries po, I’m happy to.” Ethan said with a smile. “Errr, Tita Marianne, I bought a mobile phone. May I have Pippa’s number? She told me to get it from you when I manage to get one.”
“You did?” Marianne asked surprised. In all the time he had been living there, he was disinterested in getting a new phone, now suddenly all of a sudden, he bought one. Hmmm, parang alam na niya kung bakit at kung sino ang nakapagpabili kay Ethan ng bagong phone!
“Yes. I realized I need one.” Ethan simply replied.
“Okay, here it is.” Marianne said giving Ethan her phone so he can copy Pippa’s number. Hindi siya masyadong tech savvy and does not know how to send it via that bluetooth!
“Got it Tita Marianne, many thanks.” Ethan said. “I’ll go to the cottage now. Later, may stay in the veranda? I need to send e-mails.”
“Sure, sabi ko naman sa iyo, hindi mo na kailangang magpaalam. Just come and go.” Marianne said.
“Thank you, Tita Marianne!” Ethan said.
While the WiFi signal from the router in the house reaches the cottage, it is not very strong so Ethan usually stays in the veranda to send e-mails and check something online. He went back to the cottage, humming. He was not so blue anymore.
When Ethan reached the cottage, he called the number Tita Marianne gave him.
“Hello…? Pippa said tentatively from the other line when she picked up. She thought the call might be work connected as the number is unknown.
“Hello Pip! Its Ethan! I got myself a new mobile this morning!” Ethan said grinning as he settled into the couch.
“Ethan! That was fast! Great! Nasaan ka na ngayon?” Pippa said happily.
“I’m back at the cottage. I saw Tristan pala in town.” Ethan said. “Where are you now?”
“Oh my, I forgot to text Tristan or call him before I left!” Pippa just realized. “I’ll just call him when I get home. I’m at the Batangas Port na, waiting for the bus to leave, which is about now.”
“Okay, I will just call again later, let me know when you are already home.” Ethan said as he can hear a lot of noise in the background. “Take care.”
“Okay, I will send you a text message as soon as I am home.” Pippa said. “Ethan, I’m glad you got yourself a phone.” She added, smiling and happy since she can keep constant communication with Ethan.
“Me too, Pippa! Me, too!” Ethan said happily. “I’ll wait for your SMS, okay. Good bye for now!”
“Until later!” Pippa replied, then clutched her phone to her chest with a dreamy smile after she and Ethan ended the call.
Ethan lingered on the couch, put his feet up, and stared at the ceiling with a goofy smile on his face. Soon, he will see Pippa. He is planning to go Manila by Friday, three long days, but still, he will see her soon, unlike if he waits lang in Puerto Galera for her possible return.