The place was packed, that evening being a Friday, as Pippa and Ethan, hands intertwined navigated the throng of people in the dimly lit inside of a popular watering hole in the rooftop of a building in Bonifacio Global City after their very nice dinner in Teacher’s Village in Quezon City.
Ethan loved the Asian fusion cuisine at the restaurant they have been to. They traveled to BGC from there to meet Ethan’s friend Werner. Pippa and Ethan agreed earlier to have a night out, so when Werner called and invited Ethan to meet him that night, he said yes and asked if he could bring Pippa too. Werner said yes and they agreed to meet at this bar in BGC.
“Ethan, someone is waving at you from the corner table.” Pippa told Ethan as her eyes caught sight of a tall guy wearing glasses, calling Ethan’s attention by briskly waving at him.
Ethan looked at the direction Pippa was pointing at, and saw Werner. He was with another guy. “That’s him! Come Pip. You will like him, promise. He is a very affable guy. That’s why we hit off, bat on the first time. We actually met at the bar at the resort. He was chatting with your cousin Belle.”
Several minutes after, and after sidestepping people who had a bit of drinks already, they reached Werner’s table.
“Mate, good to see you!” Werner said with a big smile, then looked at Pippa. “Hello, there! You must be Pippa. I’m Werner, and this is Colin!” Werner shook Pippa’s hand, and Colin, another foreigner, did the same, first with Pippa and then with Ethan.
“Hi Werner, Colin, please to meet you. Yes, I’m Pippa Montenegro, a friend of Ethan’s.” Pippa said, offering a friendly smile to Werner and Colin.
“Ethan, Colin is my partner in the software development company I have put up here.” Werner explained. “I invited him over so you two can meet each other at least, this evening. By the way, Pippa, I hope it is okay if we talk shop a bit.”
“Yes, it’s perfectly okay, Werner. That is, if it is okay that I’m here too.” Pippa said.
“Sure, sure no worries.” Werner replied. “Sorry, please have a sit.”
Ethan pulled the chair for Pippa, then took the seat beside her. “What would you like, Pip? Tanduay Ice or something else? Beer?”
“I would like Tanduay Ice, please.” Pippa replied. “Thank you, Ethan.”
Ethan signalled to the waiter. He ordered a SanMig Light for him and Pippa’s Tanduay.
“Werner, Pippa, Ethan, please excuse me. I’ll say good night then and nice meeting you two. I’m looking forward to working with you, Ethan.” Colin said. “I’m meeting my girlfriend and she just sent me an SMS. Have a nice evening!”
The three of them said goodbye to Colin.
“So Ethan, you have decided to stay in the Philippines after all!” Werner asked, sipping his beer. “I’m glad. We need a software developer with an expertise such as yours. I’m happy you changed your mind. You were not so keen the first time I mentioned the job to you.”
“No, but that was then. I had a changed of mind, recently. I do have a very compelling reason for wanting to stay in the Philippines for good, aside from the fact that I like it here.” Ethan said cryptically, looking at Pippa intently, which made her blush.
“Oh! That’s the way it is, eh!” Werner said with a teasing voice.
Ethan just grinned and Pippa smiled shyly.
“Do you also live in Mindoro, Pippa? I didn’t see you when I stayed at the wonderful beach resort near Ethan’s place.” Werner remarked.
“Sort of. My family owns the resort where you stayed. I’m glad you had a nice stay.” Pippa said with a smile. “But I live in Quezon City, where I work.”
“I’m staying with Pippa actually. She is my mom’s friend’s daughter, and my very special friend.” Ethan added, gazing at Pippa meaningfully. The two of them smiled at each other before looking at Werner again.
“I love your place! One of these days I will go back there. I also met your beautiful, charming and very nice cousin Belle. How is she?” Werner added with a smile. Pippa detected something from Werner’s voice, the way he said her cousin’s name, parang iba.
“Oh, she is doing great. Quite busy as we have a lot of guests these days, being the tourists season.” Pippa replied.
The drinks Ethan ordered arrived then. The three of them continued chatting about Mindoro and other vacation places they have been. Then the talk shifted to the job Werner wanted Ethan to do for him. They talked shop while Pippa listened on, drinking her Tanduay Ice. She limited herself to one bottle of Tanduay Ice, though, as she will be driving later on.
When they were finished discussing technical stuffs, the conversation shifted to Pippa’s job. Werner had a lot of questions. He was fascinated with her job. Sometimes, Ethan will answer for Pippa and Werner noticed the way they picked up each other’s thoughts. It didn’t escape his notice too, the way Ethan looks at Pippa. His mate is in love! But it looks like Pippa was the same. If not for Pippa introducing herself as Ethan’s friend, he would have assumed that they are in a relationship already. Well, the two of them are obviously on their way there.
Unbeknown to the three of them, Martin was also at the same bar, with Cassie. At first he wanted to approach Pippa when he saw her entered the place, surprised to see her there and the fact that she is back in Manila without him knowing. But then he noticed the good looking foreigner beside her. By the time he was going to approach them, even while Cassie was objecting, he saw them holding hands. He started to feel pissed off and he resented the fact that Pippa, this soon, had replaced him! Or maybe, he was replaced even before they broke up. His suspicious mind, cloudedd by jealousy and liquor, thought. He ignored Cassie who was sulking by then, and ordered one drink after the other.
“So, I will see you on Monday, Ethan to show you around our office.” Werner said as they were winding down the evening. “You are welcome to tag along too, Pippa.”
“Yes, I will be there. But I’m not sure about Pippa! Pip?” Ethan looked inquiringly at Pippa. They only managed to discuss their plans for until Sunday wherein they will pick up Ally from the airport.
“Oh, thanks for the invitation Werner. But I can’t. I’m flying to Palawan for work on Monday.” She told Werner apologetically. “Ethan, it slipped my mind earlier.” Pippa added, suddenly blushing, remembering how they spend the afternoon.
Ethan smiled, remembering their wonderful afternoon too before going to dinner in Teacher’s Village. Werner noticed them exchanging looks again as if they were in a silent communication. Love! He mused. He wished he would find it too. But alas, he was not as lucky as Ethan!
“Okay! It is just you, then Ethan.” Werner said, pulling himself out of his thoughts. “It was nice meeting you Pippa. Say hello to Belle from me. Ethan, until Monday!”
The three of them parted at the ground floor of the building. Ethan and Pippa offered to drop off Werner wherever he is going, but he declined as he will meet Colin and his girlfriend at the coffee shop across the street.
Pippa and Ethan walked hand in hand to the parking lot. Several minutes later, they were driving back to Pippa’s place.
“So, you will go to Palawan on Monday? How many days will you be there?” Ethan asked as they navigated the late Friday night traffic.
“Hmmm, about three days, I think. But after that, I have some free time. I can go see you and Ally in Mindoro.” Pippa started saying, then a better idea entered her head. “Or you and Ally, can come with me! I’ll be working, but the two of you can enjoy the sights and touch base. I will be free during evenings. Tapos, we can extend na lang for several days after we finish our shoot and interview with the celeb who has a house there.”
“That’s a better idea! I haven’t been to Palawan and I have been meaning to see a bit of the place at some point. That way, we can still be together.” Ethan said happily. He felt better, knowing that he and Pippa will have more time to be with each other. “Knowing my sister, she will like the place too.”
“Great then! I can also book you at the place my crew and I will be staying, and in the same flight.” Pippa said.
“Pippa, I’ll pay for it please. No arguments, okay?” Ethan said. He had a feeling that Pippa will treat him and Ally. “It is more than enough that you are letting us stay in your place here in Manila.”
Pippa knows there is no swaying Ethan on this. She was really planning on paying for it as a welcome treat to Ally. “Okay, I will bill you.”
“Thanks, Pippa.” Ethan touched Pippa’s arms. “And I’m looking forward to enjoying Palawan with you.”
“Me too, Ethan.” Pippa smiled. She and Ethan are really into this thing between them know and she feels very happy. The reason she forgot to tell him about the Palawan trip is that they got so caught with each other earlier. They just cuddled on her sofa after that sweet kiss. They have watched a movie and after that, ended up taking a nap together, without intending to, in the sofa while watching their second movie.
Soon after, they have arrived at Pippa’s building. They walked hand in hand towards the elevator, never letting go of each other’s hand as they walked to Pippa’s unit. Pippa was about to open the door, when she heard Martin’s voice from behind. She looked up in surprise.
“Kaya mo pala ako ayaw kausapin, may kapalit na pala ako agad, ha Miss-Goody-Two-Shoes, never-been-touched Pippa Montenegro.” Martin said in a loud, slurred voice. He was obviously very, very drunk.
“Martin! What are you doing here?” Pippa asked surprised. While Ethan moved closer to her, realizing who was the guy who materialised out of nowhere.
“Waiting for you, of course, my dear. Akala mo pa, palalampasin ko ang nakita ko sa bar.” Martin continued. “Ito lang bang mestisong hilaw na ito ang ipapalit mo sa akin? Bibigay ka rin pala, dito pa.” He added insultingly, not knowing that Ethan understood every word he uttered.
“Hey buddy, watch it! Dahan-dahan sa pagsasalita. No gutter language please.” Ethan said calmly, trying to diffuse the situation. “Pippa was not the one was at fault. It was you.”
“Huwag kang makialam dito. I don’t care kung naintindihan mo pala lahat ng sinabi ko. This girl is a cock-tease!” Martin continued crudely. “O baka naman hindi na. Was she good in bed? Kung sa iyo lang naman, mas mapapaligaya ko siya.” Then looking at Pippa sneeringly, he continued his tirade. “Ano bang meron iyang tisoy na iyan, ha Pippa? Halika, kaya ko ring gawin ang mga ginawa niya sa iyo.” He grabbed Pippa by the arm, roughly. Pippa managed to extricate herself fast, but she had a red mark on the arm that Martin grabbed.
With that, Ethan saw red too. He had enough of Martin and his insults and manhandling of Pippa. Before Pippa could react and ask him to ignore what Martin said and did, as it was not worth it, he punched Martin in the face and wherever he could hit him, in rapid succession. “Enough of your gutter language, you two-timing cad!”
It was the provocation Martin seemed to be waiting for. He also threw a punch on Ethan, hitting him on the mouth, then another which hit his left eye, and also his jaw.
Ethan was about to strike back again when he heard Pippa’s plea. “Ethan please, don’t. He is not worth it. Halika na pumasok na tayo. Huwag mo na siyang patulan.”
He looked at Martin one more time, threw a punch that sent him reeling and clutching his stomach, before nodding at Pippa, taking her hand, and going inside her place.
“Pippa darling, I’m sorry for doing that. I don’t like anyone insulting you like that.” Ethan said, unconsciously slipping in a term of endearment for Pippa, while touching her face gently.
“It’s okay, Ethan. Thank you for defending me. I’m over Martin and whatever he says, does not hurt me anymore. I’m thanking the stars for my lucky escape.” Pippa said. “Hayan, nasaktan ka pa tuloy. Halika, gamutin natin. Upo ka na lang muna sa sofa, I will get the first aid kit from the bathroom.”
Pippa returned several minutes after with a basin with lukewarm water, then the first aid kit. She cleaned Ethan’s split lip, gently and tenderly. “Masakit ba. Sandali na lang ito.” She said as she continue pressing a gauze on his lip to absorb the blood trickling from his wound. Pippa also iced it, so is his left eye that was already turning a bit purple, and his hand that bore the brunt of his punches to Martin.
“It is okay, Pippa. Thank you.” Ethan assured Pippa. “Pasensya ka na talaga. Ayoko lang ng binabastos ka like that. Paano pala kung wala ako and lasing siya, tapos nakita ka niya. I don’t want to think about it. I’m glad that I’m here when you saw him again.”
“I agree, Ethan. I didn’t realize that Martin could be like that. I only saw his good side when we were together. Well, not so much in the end. But I’m glad that you are here too when I faced him. Thank you.” Pippa gave Ethan a tight hug.
Ethan hugged Pippa back. “I’ll take care of you and protect you, always, Pippa.” He whispered fervently and lovingly.
“Thank you again, Ethan. Halika na let’s go to sleep. Ready na iyong room mo. Para makapagpahinga ka na rin. Let me know lang kung kailangan mo ng pain reliever ha.” Pippa said.
“Okay. But I do have one request.” Ethan looked at Pippa intently. “Can we sleep together, as in sleep only, like what we did when I had a nightmare. I just want to be with you.”
Pippa looked at Ethan. She does not want to part with him for the night too. “Okay. Let’s just go to my room, then.”
“Thank you, Pippa. I will be a gentleman, I promise.” Ethan assured Pippa as he does not want her to think that after Martin, he is the one who will try to take advantage of her.
Pippa gave him a sweet, trusting smile. “I know you will be. I trust you, Ethan.”
They walked towards Pippa’s room after getting Ethan’s bag, with their arms around each other’s waist, to settle in for the night.