“Please send me an SMS, Ally, when you and Melissa land in Davao.” Ethan told his sister as they waited for their cousin to arrive and pick-up Allison from Pippa’s place Tuesday afternoon. Ally opted to go to Davao instead of joining Pippa and Ethan on their road trip throughout Northern Luzon.
“I will Ethan, don’t worry, please. That is the first thing I will do once when we reach Davao, I promise. I’m looking forward to spending time with Mum’s family there. Melissa said there are also a lot of beautiful places we can see in Davao and in other parts of Mindanao.” Ally assured her brother. “Just enjoy your trip with Pippa. I’m sure you are both looking forward to that. Then as agreed I will just see you two in Puerto Galera in three weeks time. I very much want to meet Pippa’s Mum and thank her too, for taking good care of you. She seems like a very lovely person, based on what you have told me, what Pippa had said, and what Mum had mentioned to me and Dad.”
“Yes, she is that and much more. She is like a mum to me too. Okay, I’ll see you then. You will like the Montenegros place in Mindoro. And seeing a bit of the country, you will understand why I’m staying here for good, aside from Pippa, of course.” Ethan said. “Hello to the family there. One day, I will find my way there also, with Pippa.”
“Please thank Pippa again for letting me stay. And brother dear, you are a very lucky person to have found that wonderful lady. Don’t let her go. Take good care of her.” Ally said, poking her brother affectionately on the chest. “I do understand why you want to stay here. But I think it is not about the place anymore, it is mostly because of Pippa. The place being so beautiful is just a bonus.”
“Yes, that’s true. And I will not let Pippa go. That I have decided, early on. Pippa is for keeps. She is my forever, Ally!” Ethan said, his eyes full of love for his girlfriend. “Basta, bridesmaid ka sa wedding namin ha!” He teased his sister.
“Wow, really Ethan! When are you planning to propose to her?” Ally said, smiling. She is happy for her brother. “I’m happy for you my dear brother. Of course, I will be. In fact, I will not talk to you anymore if I am not. But you better make sure that Mum and Dad can be there as well. They will strangle you, especially Mum, if you get married without them!” Ally teased. Of course, as much as their parents would like to be at the wedding, they will understand if Ethan marries without them.
“Of course, they will be there! They have to be there. I want to share that very happy day with them. As for when, I will propose to Pippa, I will do it at the right time and at the right moment.” Ethan said, smiling secretly. He had a plan already, but he needs to put a couple of things in motion before he could do so.
“Well, good luck brother dear. I wish you and Pippa all the happiness.” Ally hugged her older brother tight.
“Thank you, Ally.” Ethan replied. “I wish you will also find a love like what I have found with Pippa.”
“In due time, Ethan. Maybe, I will. You’ll never know, I might also find love in this beautiful country.” Ally said.
The house phone rang while brother and sister were hugging each other. Ethan answered the call. The receptionist informed him that a Melissa Benitez was at the lobby waiting for Allison Bowman.
Ethan helped Ally with her suitcase. Brother and sister went down to where their cousin was waiting. Melissa promised Ethan once again that she will take care of Ally who will be staying at her and her parents house, their Uncle Michael and Aunt Minerva. After Melissa and Ally left, Ethan went back to Pippa’s place to wait for her. Pippa had gone to work that morning to file her vacation leave and to attend to some last-minute stuffs before they can go on their road trip.
When they got home the night before they informed Ally about the change in their plans, that the Palawan trip has been cancelled, and they asked her where she would like to go. Ally told them that if that is the case, she will just go to Davao with Melissa to see the relatives, and they can just meet up somewhere, at some point. Ally said Melissa, and her parents too, issued the invitation to Ethan and her. However, she just told them, while talking to them on the phone that she will discuss it with Ethan first, as they had plans to go to Palawan. Maybe they can visit them before she goes back to London is another option.
Even when Pippa and Ethan assured Ally it is okay to tag along with them, she insisted on going to Davao instead. Ally assured them it is perfectly okay for her to go on her own, as going to Davao is really part of her plan. She has not been there since she was a kid. She also teased Ethan and Pippa about giving them a chance to really, really be with each other, with no one interrupting them. The three of them laugh, remembering the incident Sunday morning!
Ethan relented, and brother and sister agreed to meet in Mindoro a week before Ally returns to London. After Pippa left that morning, brother and sister discussed how best they can send the diary to Claudia’s mum. They agreed that it was best if Ethan give it to her in person, no matter how hostile she will be to him, judging by their previous interaction.
Ethan will have to go back to England to do it at some point. Ethan said he will discuss this with Pippa as he would like to ask if she can go with him. He wants Pippa to travel with him, as he would like his parents to meet her the soonest, hopefully as his fiancée if she will have him. His and Ally’s Mum and Dad are currently on a cruise so he will go back after they have returned from that. His going to England schedule will also depend on what Pippa would like to do next – if she will stay with her current job or do the blog, and freelance work. Pippa had mentioned that one of her options is to freelance. That way, she said, her time is more flexible.
Ethan spent the rest of the afternoon doing some preliminary work for Werner and his company so that he would be familiar with everything when he comes on board the following month. He also did some freelance work while waiting for Pippa to return home. He also worked on the design of Pippa’s blog and the back-ending or content management system. He is planning to buy her a domain name from the register that he uses, instead of starting with a free blog site there.
Pippa had shown Ethan some of the ideas for the blog she would like to have, from content, to the kind of design she is thinking of, and what she hopes to have in her page. Pippa has some very innovative ideas that Ethan feels will become big. She knows her social media, her digital media platform, and what people wants when they go online. Engagement is very important, she had told him when they were discussing it last night. He felt himself getting as excited as Pippa with this project. He believes that she has what it takes to make this blog fly.
Two hours later, and after cleaning the place, just tidying up, and putting the dirty clothes in the wash, Ethan received an SMS from Pippa, informing him that she was on her way home. Pippa arrived home carrying a take out bag from a Filipino restaurant near her place of work which has comfort food on its menu.
“Dinner!” Pippa said when she entered the apartment with a big smile. She gave Ethan a quick kiss on the lips. “Hi, honey! How have you been? Sorry, natagalan akong makabalik. Si Ally, nasundo na ba ni Melissa?”
“Hi darling!” Ethan said, hugging Pippa and kissing her, giving her a kiss that was longer than the kiss she gave him. “I missed you.” He whispered after they broke apart, both feeling flushed.
“Yes, Melissa picked up Ally, as scheduled. Probably by now the two of them are in the mall, doing some last-minute shopping or having one more night out since hapon pa naman ang flight nila. As for me, I have been busy with all sorts of things. How about you? Kumusta ang meeting mo with your boss?”
“Okay naman. She agreed to me taking a month’s off!” Pippa said happily as she started preparing their dinner. “Imagine, one month na laid back lang! I haven’t done this since I started working. The best thing is I will be spending it with you. I have more to tell you, but let’s eat first. Nagutom ako sa office. Alanganin na rin if I will eat pa there. Besides, I wanted to hurry home.”
“Okay, dinner first. But I’m happy about your boss allowing you that month’s leave.. I’m so looking forward to our road trip!” Ethan said, putting his hands over Pippa’s. “So, tomorrow, tuloy tayo in buying the supplies we will need for the trip?”
“Yes, I’m officially on vacation starting tomorrow.” Pippa replied, then suddenly looked around and realized something looked different. “Thanks a lot for tidying up the place. I just realised. Kanina ko pa iniisip na parang may naiba. Hindi ko na naasikaso kaninang umaga na mag-tidy up.”
“Oh that, it was a small thing. I was not so busy and I’m used to doing that naman in London.” Ethan replied as he seated Pippa. Besides, it is the least I could do for you.”
The two of them enjoyed their dinner, discussing the blog that Pippa would like to do. Ethan mentioned the initial work he had done that afternoon. He said he can show it to her later. They also chatted with Pippa’s mom. Tita Marianne called up earlier to ask how they are. They told her about heading to Mindoro in three weeks time, after their road trip and Ally’s vacation in Davao. Pippa’s mom was so happy to know that they will all go home.
While they were having coffee and dessert after their lovely dinner, Ethan mentioned to Pippa about his plan to go back to England, at some point, for a short spell to give the diary to Claudia’s mum.
“I agree with you and Ally. It is best that you do it in person. That way, wala na silang masasabi sa iyo. Besides, I think that way, magiging talagang super full closure na ang lahat for you. Somehow, it will make Claudia be at peace too kung nasaan man siya. Kung ano man ang maging reaction ng mum ni Claudia, nasa kanya na iyon. You have more than done your part.” Pippa said, putting her hand over Ethan’s. “Kailan mo balak umalis? Sasabay ka bang bumalik kay Ally sa London?”
“No, mauuna na si Ally. I don’t know yet, depends pa rin sa time. Besides, I’m hoping you can go with me.” Ethan said softly, gazing at Pippa. “Not in meeting Claudia’s mum, but go with me so I can introduce you to Mum and Dad as the love of my life, and we can also see the sights. Pero, depende pa naman iyon on what you would like to do after our road trip. Di ba, sabi mo iisipin mo pa kung babalik ka sa job mo or will do the blog full-time, as well as freelance?”
“Oh, that is what I wanted to talk to you about also. Di ba, I met with my boss? Nagpaalam na rin ako sa kanya. I have decided kasi na leave my work and do the blog and go freelance. This morning, nagkataon na tumawag iyong isang close friend ko noong college, asking how I am. We haven’t seen each other lately so we had coffee at the cafe near my office, and through the course of our conversation she asked if I’m interested in being her partner in a production company she is putting up. Isabel said she would like to do freelance work too! Imagine, nagkataon pa.”
“Really, what a coincidence! So what did you tell her?” Ethan said, waiting for Pippa’s answer.
“Well, I told her about my plans to start a blog and also to freelance. Isabel laughed at the pagkakataon. Pareho pala raw kami ng iniisip. Matagal na raw niya akong gustong kausapin, pero kanina lang siya talaga nagka-time. I told her I will seriously think about it as I have already made plans with you to take a vacation, then the blog, and I have yet to talk to my immediate superior.” Pippa said, then continued, “Just before I had my meeting with my boss, I have made up my mind na magpaalam na sa kanya verbally and not just go on vacation leave, but to leave the company na. I did naman. But she requested me if I could stay muna for a month after my vacation for proper turnover. Hahanap pa siya ng kapalit ko. Also she told me, should I change my mind during my vacation, I’m very much welcome to stay. Sabi niya file the vacation leave muna and we will discuss my other plan when I come back. So, that’s about it! What do you think?”
“I’m happy with whatever you will decide on eventually, darling. You do know that whatever your decision is, it’s okay with me, di ba? It is your life and I will just be there to support you in whatever you would like to do.” Ethan said. “Just take your time. Think about it thoroughly. You can certainly do that during our road trip and while we are sitting on a blanket in some nice quiet beaches up north. Nice, isn’t it. We can always head to London for Christmas or some other time.”
“Thank you for that, honey. But I have made up my mind on my way home, Ethan. I will just go with forming a production house with Isabel, pero I will stay pa for a month with my current job as requested by Ms. Tina.” Pippa said. “So, if you could wait two months before heading to England, then I would like to go with you, and meet your parents. I would like to see your other world, too.” Pippa said softly and lovingly, planting a soft kiss on Ethan’s lips. “Besides, I want to be there with you after you have given that diary to Claudia’s mum. Kahit man lang to hold your hand, or give you kiss after it is done.”
“Really, really! Lovely! I’m so happy to know, darling. Of course, I can wait two months, basta ang importante, makakasama kita.” Ethan said, grinning. Two months to put his plan into motion! He went to where Pippa was seated, held her gently by the shoulder so he can guide her to can stand up. When she did, he hugged her tight, lowered his mouth to hers, then gave her a searing kiss.
“I love you, you know, very much. I’m so looking forward to our life together!” He said cupping her face, while they were catching their breaths.
Pippa smiled at Ethan, a bit bemused at his last statement, but is very happy at his show of love. “I love you very much too, Ethan and I, too, looking forward to us being together.”
The two of them shared one more deep kiss, before they broke apart.
Ethan helped Pippa with the dishes soon after, then they stayed in the living room watching Iron Man 3 before they headed to bed.
“Good night, darling!” Ethan whispered as he hugged Pippa and pulled her closer to him after putting the blanket over them. His right arm hugging the underside of her breasts, their bodies fitting against each other, like two spoons. He needed to rein in his body’s physical reaction to Pippa’s nearness, as even if Pippa is now ready too to take their relationship to the physical level, they can’t, yet!
“Good night, honey!” Pippa said, trying to steady her heart and her physical reaction to Ethan’s arm around her, so near her breasts. She is so acutely aware of him since she admitted to him that she is ready to share that aspect of their relationship with him. She is looking forward to that. Unfortunately, they can’t still do anything about it at the moment. Maybe, in one or two days time, they can!
The following morning, Pippa and Ethan hit the mall as soon as it opened, buying stuffs for their trip. At some point, after several stores, Ethan told Pippa he needed to run an errand and he will just meet her at the Starbucks near the front entrance of the mall.
Unknown to Pippa, Ethan went to a jewelry shop he Googled the day before. He also measured one of Pippa’s rings she had left on her dresser for size. He already had an idea on what design he would like. He was lucky! He found a ring along the designs he likes and the store have it in Pippa’s size. It was the first thing that attracted his attention when he looked at the display. He paid for his purchase and put it in the bottom of the backpack he was carrying. When he went to the coffee shop, Pippa was already there.
“Sorry, Pip darling, natagalan ako.” Ethan said with a big smile as he slid into the chair opposite Pippa’s.
“It’s okay, Ethan. Did you finish your errand? Did you find what you were looking for?” Pippa asked.
“Errr, yes,” he said but did not elaborate. He just gave her a big smile. “Thanks for ordering for me,” he said, holding the latte that Pippa got for him, and taking a sip.
“Good.” Pippa said smiling, letting Ethan off the hook, even if she was curious at the bit of mystery surrounding his sudden departure from her side, knowing na hindi niya kabisado ang mall and all morning, magkasama sila sa lahat ng shops na pinuntahan nila. “So, off to our adventure tomorrow!”
“Yes! I’m excited about it. Basta we will take turns in driving, and we rest when we are tired.” Ethan said. Pippa offered to do it herself since she know the road more, but Ethan insisted they take turns as it would be grueling for her if she does all the long driving.
“Opo.” Pippa said, pinching Ethan’s cheek affectionately.” Sure ka ba na okay ka lang mag-drive?”
“Yes, I’ll be fine. Nahihirapan lang ako dito sa Manila, pero I’ll be okay paglabas natin ng Manila.” Ethan assured Pippa. “Besides, it will really be too tiring for you kung ikaw lang ang magmamaneho all throughout.”
The night before they discussed whether they will just drive or take the buses or a plane to the places they would like to see. They both agreed that it would be more fun and they have more time to see places off the beaten track and stumble upon interesting stuffs if they drive themselves. Besides they have more control of their schedule, that way.
Pippa and Ethan spent the rest of the day going around the mall, buying the third book in the Ken Follett’s trilogy than Ethan had been wanting in the process, and having dinner at one of the garden restaurants in it before heading home. Ally texted while they were having dinner, informing them that she and Melissa arrived safely in Davao and on their way to Melissa’s home. They went to bed early as they will leave for their trip early the following day.
For the initial leg of their trip, along the main highways, it was Ethan who drove. They switched places in La Union. Pippa drove until they reached Vigan, the first full stop of their road trip, ten hours after.
“So, what would you like to do first, eat an early dinner or check in to our hotel?” Pippa asked.
“Let’s go check in first. Base dito sa description ng hotel na napili natin, there is a place beside it that serves good food.” Ethan replied, reading from Pippa’s tablet.
“Okay, let’s do that.” Pippa said, driving on, after checking the direction they got from the hotel’s website.
“Wow, I really like this place!” Ethan said when they stopped at the address indicated in the map, which is that of a Spanish-era house converted into a hotel. “We chose well!”
Pippa looked closely, and she too, likes the place they have picked after checking from a travel website various reviews of places where they could stay while in Vigan. They checked in after asking the nice lady at the reception where they could park Pippa’s car for the duration of their stay in Vigan. Both Pippa and Ethan decided that they will take the local modes of transportation in exploring Vigan, and the car is just for long distance traveling.
That evening, after taking turns in the shower, Pippa and Ethan walked hand in hand towards the restaurant they were directed to by the nice lady at the reception. They had a wonderful dinner, ordering mostly Ilocano cuisine. Afterwards, hands intertwined, they took a stroll to the softly lit and beautiful Calle Criosologo and marveled at the beautiful Spanish-era houses there.
“This is just so perfect.” Ethan softy remarked, stopping in the middle of the nearly deserted street, and cupping Pippa’s face. “You, me, in this very lovely place! There is nowhere else I want to be, than here with you. I love you, Pippa.”
Cupping Ethan’s face too, Pippa whispered. “And there is nowhere else I want to be too, than here with you. I love you very much too, Ethan. I’m so lucky to have found you, so unexpectedly.”
The two of them gazed at each other lovingly, and then amid the beautiful old houses of a bygone era, they shared a tender kiss. They return to their hotel with arms around each other, their hearts overflowing with love and happiness.