Lorraine Tan, ‘Lori’ to acquaintances and fans, looked behind her when she heard someone called her name, her real name, from that direction. Only family and very close friends call her ‘Lorraine’. She was in a popular bar in Bonifacio Global City. She decided to go out, even if she has an early schedule the following day as Ricky Lim was driving her off the wall with his inability to see reason. She felt like she was going insane. Ignoring her text messages and her calls, how could he, really, she fumed. The last straw was her unsuccessful attempt again that morning. She hurled her phone across her room when she failed again, for the nth time, to reach him.
Lorraine had been in that bar for over two hours. She greeted people who said hello, politely, and generally kept to herself. Her inner circle of friends were in Europe. She was supposed to go with them but opted not to, after her latest and most serious quarrel with Ricky. He broke up with her again and told her that they are really over this time. But as it had happened in the fast, Lorraine was not that worried in the beginning. But after several days, she got really, really worried. She needed to be back in his good graces. Her parents will kill her if she fails to fix this. She promised herself she will really shape up if Ricky gives this one last chance! But there is a part of her that says she is too late this time and if she is a cat with nine lives, she had used all of hers when it comes to Ricardo Lim III.
She had been trying to reach her fiance, well ex-fiance, if it is up to him, but he had been mulishly stubborn on not taking her calls and replying to her text messages the past week. She tried to see him at his office, but his dragon of a secretary refused to let her inside Ricky’s office, saying that he was in a meeting. She refused to budge even if she threaten her that she will let Ricky’s father know about her attitude. She tried then to go to his condo unit, but the guards apparently have instructions not to let her in the building. She presumed that Ricky had also changed the security code to his door. Several days ago, he disappeared on her. Her secretary told her he was out-of-town and she does not know, or most probably, was just not telling her, where he is.
“Oh hello there, Miguel!” Lorraine smiled a bit drunkenly, seeing that it was one Ricky’s best friends who called her name. She could use the company. Maybe, he also know where Ricky is. She stood up and swaying a bit, gave him a beso. “How are you? I haven’t seen you in a while. The last time yata was when Ricky and I had dinner with the girl you were dating. What’s her name, Pamela Razon, the beauty queen!”
“I’m okay, Lorraine, and that was months ago. I don’t date Pam anymore. Where’s Ricky? So, hindi na pala kayo tutuloy sa beach house namin? Kailan kayo bumalik from Ilocos? May nangyari ba?” Miguel asked, puzzled at seeing Lorraine here, but at the same time he felt relieved as he was unable to reach Ricky after their initial chat that morning. It never occurred to him that Ricky was not with Lorraine and that the two have broken up. “Tinatawagan ko siya kanina pa, several times na, to let him know na may problema doon beach house na hinihiram niya, pero naka-off iyong phone niya. Normally kasi hindi naman nagpapatay ng phone iyon. I thought kasi na baka kasi ma-inconvenience kayo. Sasabihin ko sana na i-postpone muna ng ilang araw iyong trip hanggang maayos iyong kuryente sa place namin.”
“Beach house? Ilocos? So, that’s where he is!” Lorraine smiled triumphantly. Gotcha, Ricky Lim! She can’t believe that she finally got lucky after days of frustration after frustration!
“Oh, you mean, hindi ka kasama ni Ricky sa Ilocos…? I thought…..?” Miguel then realized his faux pas, his gigantic faux pas! He stopped before he can do more damage. OMG, Ricky will kill me, he thought, what did I do! He wanted to blame the alcohol in his system for not thinking straight. But he only had two shots of vodka, so far. The friend he was out drinking left a while ago due to a family emergency, and that was when he looked around the crowded and noisy bar, and saw Lorraine. He thought Ricky was with her.
Miguel never thought that Ricky was not with Lorraine. Come to think of it, on hindsight, Ricky was a bit evasive this morning when he asked after Lorraine. Pero sino ang kasama niya sa Ilocos? Lorraine and Ricky have been together for as long as he could remember. They were already a couple when he became friends with Ricky in college. The two of them have spats and have broken up several times but they always get back together. They are even getting married next year. Their families are all for it. Ricky even asked him to be his best man. He had reservations about Lorraine. He thinks she is a spoiled brat and he heard rumors about her, but if she is what will make Ricky happy, then so be it.
“No! Is he with someone else? Who? Did you know where he disappeared to?” Lorraine asked, getting red in the face, feeling the effects of the several glasses of martini that she had indulged in, while cursing her ex-fiance in her head. “Saang parte ng Ilocos nandoon ngayon si Ricky?”
“Errrr…..” Miguel managed to say, trying to extricate himself out of the situation he got himself into.
“Come on, Miguel, you already mentioned where he is. You might as well, tell me where exactly he is now, saang parte ng Ilocos. Please. I need to get in touch with him.” Lorraine pleaded beautifully, using her charms on Ricky’s friend. “It was my fault, it was my fault, I need to fix this thing between us.” She said, slurring a bit, then a bit hysterically, she muttered, “How can he ignore me like this. How could he broke up with me. Hindi ako papayag. Ikakasal kami next year. Matutuloy ang kasal namin!”
Miguel realized then how drunk Lorraine was, and that she and Ricky are having a major problem in their relationship. He put two and two together. Ricky broke up with her and ended their engagement! Miguel knows that it is something that Ricky will do lightly, considering all the things that are at stake. He also thought that Ricky loves Lorraine, but apparently, he does not anymore. For sure, may very compelling reason ang kaibigan niya in finally breaking up with his fiancée of several months, and girlfriend of so many years.
“Lorraine, come, I will take you home, please. Marami ka na yatang nainom!” Miguel put his hand solicitously on Lorraine’s arm, guiding her gently towards the direction of the door of the bar. He had a suspicion that she has more than alcohol in her system, but he is not completely sure.
“No…!” Lorraine told him, refusing to budge, her voice rising and the other bar patrons were starting to look at her and the tall, mestizo guy beside her. They know who she is, as she is a theater actress and had just finished a big musical production recently. She had also been on the cover of several magazines before as she dabbles in commercial and fashion modeling from time to time. “If you don’t tell me, I will cause a scene in this place.”
“Lorraine, please, control yourself. Do you want to end up on social media and in the papers, or in a viral video. You are not exactly unknown. Do you want to be a fodder for online bashing and everyone having an opinion of your actions as if they know you for them to judge your action that they will see for several seconds or a minute or two?” Miguel tried to explain to her gently the repercussions, then he played his ace cards. “Do you think Ricky will like it? You know how his family shuns publicity! How about your parents?” While he does not know the Tans personally, he had heard that they are rigid people and expected too much from their only daughter. They are perfectionists. In the small circle they move in, you really will hear a lot of things.
Through the haze of alcohol, and yes, a bit of recreational drug in her system, Lorraine tried to control herself. “Miguel, please, I just want to know where he is, so I can fix the mistake I made.” She pleaded, playing the pity card.
Ricky, forgive me, he thought. He took a deep breath. “Okay, I will tell you what I know, but calm down please, and promise me that after what I will tell you, you will allow me to take you home, and that you will wait until Ricky’s return from Ilocos to iron things out. I’m sure makakausap mo na rin siya ng maayos pagbalik niya. Kung ano man ang naging dahilan ng away ninyo, for sure naman, mas malinaw na ang isip niya pagbalik niya ng Manila. Is that okay?”
Lorraine nodded. She would have agreed to anything, just to be able to find out where Ricky is.
“Now, please sit down, and let me order coffee for the two of us.” Miguel signalled to the waiter and guided Lorraine back to her seat. He sat across her.
Miguel waited after the waiter had delivered the coffee that he ordered for him and Lorraine before speaking again. He also gestured for Lorraine to drink the coffee while he tells her what he knows. He also decided that he will gloss over some of the details for everyone’s peace, especially Ricky’s and the girl he was with in Ilocos.
“The truth is, at the moment, I don’t know really where Ricky is, except that he is in Ilocos. Norte or Sur, I don’t know, really!” He said, deciding not to mention that Ricky was with a girl, and when would Ricky be at his family’s beach house. He also decided not to mention the exact location of his family’s beach house. As far as he could remember, Lorraine does not know where it is. Knowing that Ricky is with another girl might send Lorraine to the deep end. Looking closely at her, he is now sure that she had taken some kind of recreational drugs, and with the alcohol she had down already, it could be a dangerous combination. “How long he had been there, I don’t know. Kanina lang niya ako tinawagan kasi he wanted to borrow my family’s beach house nga in Ilocos, at some point.”
“Oh, and why did you assume that I was with him? May kasama ba siya?” Lorraine asked, remembering suddenly that Miguel assumed that she was with Ricky! “May ipinalit na ba siya sa akin?”
“I just assumed that you were with him, Lorraine kasi di ba, engaged couple na nga kayo.” He countered evasively. “Look this is the first time in a long time that Ricky took a vacation. I also know that you have been asking him to go on vacation with you. I was happy nga to know that you finally managed to talk him into taking one. Iyon pala, you two had a big fight kaya siya biglang nagbakasyon.”
It didn’t escape Lorraine that Miguel was being evasive on whether Ricky is alone or not. He didn’t really answer her question. But she decided not to say anything about it anymore, a plan is forming in her head. Madali namang mag-gather ng information. She now had an inkling on where Ricky went. One phone call and she can find out for sure. She does not even have to ask Miguel the exact location of his family’s beach house. Baka rin sabihin niya kay Ricky na nagtatanong siya. She wanted to surprise Ricky.
“Yes, we did. Pero, you know naman that it has happened in the past. I’m sure magkakaayos rin kami, lalo pa at ikakasal na kami.” Lorraine said. “But, you are right, I’ll wait na lang when he returns. Maybe we need this space.”
Miguel nodded. He felt a bit guilty about not telling her everything. But his loyalty is with Ricky, kung hindi nga lang siya naipit, hindi siya aamin kay Lorraine. Bakit ba naman kasi hindi man lang siya nag-isip kanina bago tinanong si Lorraine! Besides, it is Ricky’s life and he does not want to interfere in his personal life. He had known Ricky a long time and he knows that he does not do things lightly. There was actually something different in Ricky’s voice that morning. Ricky sounded happier. He also had a bad feeling about Lorraine. She had calmed down really fast. Ano kaya ang balak niya? He would call Ricky in the morning, too late already that night, and tell him what happened that evening.
“So, you are okay now? Come, I will take you home. Did you drive or nagpahatid ka lang?” Miguel asked Lorraine, putting down his coffee cup.
“Yes I am!” Lorraine replied. “No need, Miguel, I can drive myself home. Thanks for telling me where Ricky is.” She stood up, and swayed.
Miguel can see that Lorraine was not really in a condition to drive.
“Please Lorraine, I will feel better if I take you home. I have my driver with me. Ipakuha na lang natin sa driver ninyo ang car mo bukas. Kausapin ko lang iyong manager nitong bar. Di ba, he is a friend of mine and Ricky’s. We can chat pa on the road.” He dangled to her, to make her agree.
Lorraine, hoping to subtly press Miguel for more information, agreed.
While Lorraine and Miguel were on their way to Lorraine’s house, Ricky and Maya were on their leisurely way back to their hotel, walking along Calle Crisologo again, while holding the coffee they bought at the McDonald’s restaurant near the plaza, after another mouth-watering dinner of Ilocano food.
Maya felt that she has gained several pounds already with all the delicious food she had been sampling in Ilocos. She told Ricky so, after their dinner, and while they were having a cup of coffee. Ricky laughingly complained that he would need to hit the gym again when he returns to Manila dahil sa rich and delicious food sa Ilocos. The two of them then talked about their ways of getting fit and aside from the gym, the two of them found out that they both like taking long, leisurely walks when they have the time and the opportunity. They decided to do just that after their dinner. They circled the plaza, via the cathedral, then the provincial capitol, stopping by at McDo, then walked through the side streets leading to the direction of their hotel, and through Calle Crisologo.
“The perfect way to end a perfect day.” Ricky remarked contentedly.
Maya looked at him, and smiled. “Yes, it is.” She said softly. “Parang ang hirap ngang matulog pa.”
“Come, let’s sit there, and enjoy Calle Crisologo to ourselves, since pareho pa naman tayong hindi inaantok.”
Ricky led Maya to one of the two-seater wooden calesa benches, lining up the cobblestone street where tourists usually pose for a picture. He put his around her while sipping his coffee and enjoying the night. Maya made herself comfortable by leaning against Ricky’s chest a bit, both of them remembering another wonderful day that they have shared in their unplanned but so far, turning out to be, best vacation ever.