Ethan boarded the ferry at the Puerto Galera Pier bright and early Friday morning. Unlike when Pippa took it four days ago, the ferry is going to sail to Batangas on schedule this day. He decided to sit out in the open area of the ferry as he always like looking at the beautiful view of Puerto Galera from the sea. The first time he saw it like that as his ferry approached, seems like ages ago, he fell in love with the place. Besides, in a cool morning like this, it is nice to sit out there.
Several minutes after Ethan settled down on his seat at the back of the rows of seats in that part of the boat, two giggling girls approached him.
“Hello there! Are these seats taken?” The girl wearing very short shorts asked him, pointing to the seats beside his.
Ethan looked up from the book he was about to read while waiting for the ferry to get moving. “No, the seats are free.” Ethan politely said.
“Thank you!” The two girls plopped themselves down beside him. Then they started to chat him up. Ethan knew then what they were up to, and he was not interested. He answered them politely in the beginning, but when they started speaking in Filipino about him, not so nicely, objectifyng him, he stood up.
“Pwedeng dadaan lang ako. Parang mas gusto ko na lang doon sa kabilang side nitong boat.” He said politely, but pointedly.
The two girls blushed to the roots of their dyed hair, realizing that he understood all the words they have spoken in Filipino. They mumbled a sorry to him. They were the ones who offered to move as far away from him as they could.
Ethan heaved a sigh of relief. He never thought of himself as a particularly good looking guy. But what the girls did is not new to him. It has happened several times while he is here, also in Thailand. He decided to send Pippa an SMS while waiting, informing her that he is already in the ferry and is about to leave Puerto Galera. She replied promptly, wishing him a good trip and that she will be waiting at the bus terminal when he gets to Manila.
Ethan felt very happy, and is very much looking forward to seeing Pippa again. Even the thought of what is Claudia’s diary failed to dampen his happiness in seeing Pippa again. He is prepared with whatever he will discover in that diary. It is time for him to move on and thanks a lot to Pippa, he is on that way already!
The past three days seemed longer with no Pippa around. Even the book he was reading before she arrived in his life was not as interesting as he thought it would be. He gets distracted with the thoughts of Pippa. He just would find himself smiling, the book forgotten. He always looked forward to the evenings and their nightly phone calls. Now in several hours, he will see her. The boat started moving and Ethan watched the receding Mindoro coastlines.
Pippa, at that time was busy cleaning her apartment. She had already prepared the room where Ethan will stay. When Ally comes, then she would have to share her room. Pippa hopes it would be okay with Ethan’s sister. She only has one guest room. She was humming while she mops her living room. She hopes Ethan will like her place. She find it a bit strange that it is important to her that he does. With Martin, she didn’t care much.
It has been a very hectic three days for Pippa. She had worked for 10 hours straight, putting the final plans for the production of her new magazine show, which will be launched the following month. It is earlier than schedule, but not the two weeks time her boss was initially told last Friday. Now, they have ample time to produce episodes.
The pilot episode of Pippa’s show would be about celebrities and their beautiful vacation houses around the country. Luckily, a well-known actress and a singer agreed to have their houses in Batangas and Palawan featured in their first episode. While the third one, that of a popular teen star, they are still negotiating, but it looks like the teener and his mom will agree. Pippa and her team, together with the host of the show, the well-known blogger and beauty queen Isabela Montes, are flying to Palawan next week for it. The Batangas one will be handled by one of the segment producers, with Isabela joining the team also, before the Palawan trip.
When Pippa finished cleaning the apartment, she went to the nearby supermarket to buy supplies for the house. She was thinking of cooking steak and mashed potatoes for Ethan that evening, if he wants to stay in. Otherwise, they can just go to one of the restaurants in Teachers Village in Quezon City or in Kapitolyo in Pasig for dinner. She also had a quick brunch in a nearby restaurant.
Having done that, Pippa returned to her condo. She was about to park her car, when she caught a glimpse of Martin and Cassie going up the elevator. She checked if she felt something, hurt or whatever, with the sight she saw, but there was none. In fact, she felt relieved. She smiled. Her heart felt so much lighter now! While she knew in her heart that she never really loved Martin, she also thought that it may be different when she sees him again. Thank God, she is so totally over him, and she got a lucky escape!
Pippa grabbed her keys after taking a shower. Ethan had just sent her a message to tell her that he was in the Camp Aguinaldo area. He even said, he knew because of the huge signage at the gate. Pippa replied that she will go to the terminal in Kamuning to wait for him.
Pippa was already waiting at the entrance of the bus terminal when Ethan’s bus arrived. Since she was double parked at the side, she called Ethan to let him know where she is and the color and make of her car. Several minutes after, Ethan opened the passenger’s seat of Pippa’s red Honda City.
“Hi Pippa, so nice to see you again.” Ethan said with a huge grin, then he gave Pippa a big hug, bags and all, just so very happy to see her again.
“Hello Ethan, so happy to see you too!” Pippa replied, with an equally big grin. Let’s get moving, baka paalisin na ako rito.”
Pippa drove back to her condo unit. She parked her car at her usual spot, then she and Ethan took the elevator to her unit on the 20th floor of the building.
“Here it is, home away from home. Welcome to my place, Ethan.” Pippa said smiling at Ethan.
Ethan looked around and he likes how Pippa decorated her flat. It looks cozy and very laid back. He also noticed her bookshelf and DVD collection in the living room. “This is a very nice place, Pippa.”
“Thank you, Ethan, would you like something to drink? To eat? I’m sure you must be hungry. We can order your fast food fix?” Pippa asked as she gestured for Ethan to sit on the couch.
“Oh, just Coke, Pippa if you have. We can just eat together later.” Ethan said.
“Okay, one Coke in can coming right up.” Pippa said smiling, then went to the fridge to get Ethan’s Coke. She also put some chips and dip on the tray she brought back to the living room. “Here you go, with something to tide you over.”
“Thank you very much Pippa. You are the best!” Ethan said smiling.
Pippa sat beside Ethan on the couch. She is happy to see him in her place. She feels that he belongs here with none of the awkwardness she felt when Martin comes for his one of rare visits. Normally, they just meet each other in restaurants or if he comes picking her up, they only stayed in her place for several minutes.
“I’m glad you are finally here, Ethan.” Pippa remarked, while she drinks the coffee she made for herself.
“I’m happy to be here too, Pippa! I really, really missed you a lot.” Ethan said while drinking his Coke. “Good thing we have been ringing each other every evening.”
“I missed you a lot too. Our nightly calls helped me relieved the tiredness I was feeling at the end of each work day. Thank God, everything is in order na with work so we can relax na completely.” Pippa said. “What would you like to do later? We can stay in the house and I will cook, or we can go out to have dinner?”
“Hmmm, how about supper somewhere you like very much, a place you haven’t tried or a place you like going to a lot? That way, you don’t have to cook.” Ethan suggested. “I’m good with any cuisine. Huwag mo lang ako pakakainin ng balut.”
“Ha, you don’t eat balut?” Pippa asked, smiling.
“I’m sorry, but no. Just imagining the duck embryo inside is enough to send me to the opposite direction.” Ethan said, smiling.
“Okay, no balut.” Pippa said. “By the way, what time will Ally arrive on Sunday?”
“I think around lunchtime.” Ethan said.
“Okay, we can just leave for the airport around 9AM. Traffic should be okay around that time since it is a Sunday.” Pippa suggested.
“Pippa, speaking of my sister, I want to tell you something.” Ethan said, then taking a deep breath, plunged in. “Ally will be bringing with her Claudia’s diary that the new tenant of our flat found recently while having the loose boards repaired.”
“Ethan, isn’t it good news?” Pippa said. “It might shed light on why she did what she did.”
“True, I thought of that too. I’m hopeful and at the same time, dreading what is in there. But I think it is better to know. Whatever it is.” Ethan said, then gazed at Pippa meaningfully. “I’m ready to move on. Thanks to you!”
“Ha, thanks to me, Ethan?” Pippa asked surprised, at the same time, she felt her heart skipped a beat with what he said, the way he said it and the way he is gazing at her.
“Yes, despite the fact that we have known each other a short time, you have helped me deal with it. I feel like you are a kindred spirit. I feel at ease with you in such a short time.” Ethan said, then continued, “And please don’t get me wrong, as this maybe too soon for you, the truth is, I’m starting to feel something for you.”
“Ethan…..” Pippa whispered. “You mean….?” She managed to say against the loud beating of her heart.
“Yes, Pippa, I like you, very, very much. I know it is too soon as you yourself just got out of a bad relationship, but we can take it one day at a time, please.” Ethan appealed. “Just give me a chance to prove to you that not all guys are cads!”
Pippa gazed at Ethan, saw his earnestness. “Ethan, I saw Martin earlier, going to his condo with Cassie, the girl I caught him with, and I felt nothing, Ethan! I was so happy. I think I’m over him and that it was not love really. But there is a part of me that is afraid, of getting hurt again. I know you are not like him, but still, the feeling of being betrayed like that lingers.”
“That’s a perfectly normal feeling, Pippa! Just take your time.” Ethan said, putting his hand on top of Pippa’s to comfort her. “I will just be here. I’m not going anywhere. I’m actually planning to stay in the Philippines for good.”
“Thank you, Ethan.” Pippa said, then cupping his face, she said candidly, “I like you a lot too, Ethan. In such a short time, you became someone very important to me. Yes, like you, I’m starting to feel something for you. But let us take it one day at a time, please.”
“Pippa, thank you! I’m so happy to know that. Of course, we could, we would.” Ethan said, touching Pippa’s face too. “All I want is a chance with you. I know we could have something very beautiful. We can take our time. One day at a time! As long as you are willing and open, then I’m happy.”
Pippa and Ethan gazed at each other. Then as if they can’t help it, their lips met for a searing kiss. They broke apart after several long seconds, with faces flushed. They looked at each other lovingly. Ethan put his arms around Pippa and laced their fingers. Pippa put her head on Ethan’s chest, the two of them savoring the moment that wonderful Friday afternoon.