“I love you Jeremy!!!”
“You are so handsome, Jeremy Ledesma!”
Natasha should be used by this by now, but it still amazes her the kind of reaction Jeremy elicits from his legions of mostly female fans. She is very happy for him, of course, and all the success that continues to come his way. When she got to know him better, she found out that he fought hard for that success, and it was not just handed to him because of his good looks, and not solely because of his amazing talent. The hardest battle he fought was with his father who never approved of his chosen career. But he persevered and she admire him for that, very much.
“Nat, just hold on to me, okay!” Jeremy said, breaking into Natasha’s thought as he helped her out of the car and into the entrance to the venue where the awards ceremony was being held.
The screams grew louder as they walked towards the entrance after having handed Jeremy’s car key to the parking valet. Some of those waiting for Jeremy even asked if he can stand away from Natasha so they can have a solo photo of him, or a better ‘selfie’, blatantly excluding her, but he just smiled and held on to Natasha tighter, even when she tried to pull away to give in to the fans’ requests.
They made it to the entrance after several stops. There, Benedict, Jeremy’s manager was waiting for them to escort them to their seats. They made it on time. Both Jeremy and Natasha hate arriving late to an event even if it is something people somewhat let slide. Midway through the ceremony, Jeremy whispered to Natasha that he needed to go backstage to prepare for his number. He had rehearsed for that earlier as he wanted to be with Natasha before he performs.
“I’ll see you later, Nat. Or would you rather go to the backstage with me?” Jeremy asked, reluctant to leave Natasha. He remembered that she didn’t really want to go with him to this event and had to cajole her. Jeremy thought that Natasha hated being put on the spot like this. But unknown to him, Natasha had a different reason for trying to beg off, though that reason had been superseded by events.
“Go, go. I will stay here, and chat with Tita Yasmin.” Natasha assured Jeremy. They were lucky to have been seated with the wife of a well-known older singer, who happened to be a big fan of Natasha. She has not missed any of her shows. “I’ll be okay, especially with Tita Yasmin here.”
“Don’t worry, Jeremy, I’ll keep Natasha company.” Yasmin assured Jeremy. “Just go and wow us with your performance.”
“Thanks a lot, Tita Yasmin. Nat, laters!” Jeremy kissed Natasha on the cheek before going with the staff who will escort him to the backstage, a move which surprised Natasha and the kiss felt different from his usual beso! It was like the kiss they have shared in her house, something really, really different about it!
Natasha was still mulling over the kiss, her hand on her cheek when Yasmin broke into her thoughts.
“Natasha, please forgive me for asking ha, and for prying also, but are you and Jeremy together now?” Yasmin asked with a big indulgent smile. “ I hope it is okay that I am asking.”
“Together, in what way, do you mean, Tita?” Natasha was startled with the question. She does not mind Yasmin asking as she feels comfortable with her. She knew somewhat Yasmin was asking, she just want to be doubly sure. She was surprised that she sensed it too. She needed a moment to marshal her thoughts and to get use to this ‘different’ Jeremy.
“You mean, together as in the two of you in a romantic relationship!” Yasmin clarified, smiling. “I know you guys are the best of friends, and I know you are very close, very there is something different between you guys this evening, a vibe I am feeling. To be honest, I felt it before when I see the two of you, but then my husband would say that you two are just very good friends. But this evening, Jeremy is acting like a very protective boyfriend and he only had eyes for you. I’m sure I’m not the only one who noticed.”
“Errrr, we are not, you mean, boyfriend and girlfriend. We are just close friends.” Natasha said hastily, her face flushing, then asked, “Really, you think this is very different from our usual? Maybe, Jer is just happy to be attending this award and besides, he is also in the process of doing a new album and he is happiest doing that. It is his passion. He might just be very happy.”
Looking at her, Yasmin smiled. Something has changed between these two, but she thinks it is still very new, so maybe she better stop and let these two kids be. “Oh, okay! Sorry for prying, Natasha! Well, seeing the two of you, I wish you will end up together. Not only you look good together, you suit each other.”
“Thank you for that, Tita Yasmin. Jeremy is very special to me.” Natasha said simply, her heart beating faster with the thought. People are seeing something different in them! But haven’t the media been speculating about it for years now! However, this time, she knows that there is indeed something different between her and Jeremy and it all started with that kiss at her house the Friday before!
Hearing his name, Natasha looked at the stage and saw Jeremy, tapping his hand on his jeans-clad thighs as he waited for the opening notes of the song he was about to sing. He looked so handsome as he waved to the screaming crowd, with his boyish smile, a smile that reaches his beautiful, expressive brown eyes. If someone will ask Natasha what is Jeremy’s best feature is, she would readily say, his eyes. He waved once more and blew a kiss to the crowd, before his beautiful voice floated around the packed venue. There was a noticeable hush as he sang.
I’m burning for you, baby….ohhh…
Can’t you feel it, baby….
Can’t you feel it, baby….ohhhh
I hope you do…
Let us embrace the fire together….
You and I, we are meant to be….
Oh, baby, baby, baby….
Jeremy finished the last lines of the song that he wrote himself with his eyes closed, feeling every note, every words he sang. Then he gazed again at Natasha, like he was doing before the last refrain of the song. He only had eyes for her.
Natasha felt the heat of Jeremy’s stare. The lyrics of his new song and the melody sounded way different from his previous songs. This is the first time she was hearing it too. She knew that Jeremy was working on a new album, but she never had gotten around to listening to his new songs like before. Sometimes, he would for her opinion and feedback when he was composing a song. But not this time, even when they met the previous Friday at her house. Even if she was busy before with her show before, Jeremy didn’t mention this song that momentous Friday, when they could have listen to it.
Yasmin nodded, then clapped enthusiastically with the crowd. There was definitely something there! He was telling her something with that song, she thought to herself. Maybe it comes with age, or because she and his husband Jason went through something like this, she can see all the love that Jeremy Ledesma was bestowing on the sweet girl beside her. It felt like he only saw her all the time he was singing and not the huge crowd that evening. And oh boy, the lyrics of the song! It touches the heart so much. The boy is very much in love. She smiled. She hoped that these two young ones will end up together.
Several minutes later, Jeremy returned to his seat besides Natasha.
“That was beautiful, Jeremy. I’m sure it will be a hit.” Yasmin said, seeing that Natasha was still unable to say anything else! “What’s the title of that beautiful song?”
“Thank you Tita Yasmin. It’s called Slow Burn.” Jeremy smiled at the older lady, then gazed at Natasha. “How about you, Nat? Did you like it?”
“E-r-r, it is beautiful, Jeremy. I never realized that you were working on this. I’m sure it will be a hit like Tita Yasmin said.” Natasha managed to say over the fast beating of her heart. It seems like she was having a LSS with the song and as she was hearing in her head his beautiful voice, and it felt like he was singing directly to her!
The song is about a boy who fell in love with his best friend, and he was singing that love just crept by on him, like a slow burning fire, that it started a long time ago and he tried to douse it, but it kept burning and now it is consuming him. He wishes that the girl feels the same, and that she is ready to embrace the fire with him. Nat actually got self-conscious as she noticed Jeremy looking only to her as he sang. He also appeared nervous which was so unlike him. She thought only her noticed that as she knows him very well. She thought he only sought her while singing for support and comfort. But now, she instinctively knew that there was so much more with his gaze.
“I’m glad you like it. It is a recent addition to the album I am working on. I finished and recorded it over the weekend.” Jeremy said nonchalantly as he sat beside Natasha, then he dropped his bomb. “The song is for you. I wrote it for you, you know.” He whispered to Natasha, taking hold of her left hand, intertwining it with his.
Natasha whipped her head in surprise. “For me! But…? How…? Why…?” She started asking rapidly when the hosts of the awards ceremony announced Jeremy’s category.
“Shhhs, we will talk about it later.” Jeremy said with a big smile, pressing their joined hands. He didn’t mean to blurt it out like that to Nat. But he was just very happy that the song that he was working on like crazy turned out very well. He poured all his emotions in that song, hoping to send the message across to Natasha that he loves her with all of him.
Jeremy drew the loudest cheer from the fans when the nominees for that final award category was flashed on the giant LED screen inside the theatre. He was up for some stiff competition. Then the winner was announced.
“…the Best Male Pop Artist is….JEREMY LEDESMA!”
The camera zoomed in on where Jeremy was seated, and captured him hugging and then kissing Natasha on the lips before he walked towards the stage! It was not just the television cameras that captured that moment, but the cameras of the phones of his fans. It went viral soon after.
The presenters gave Jeremy his trophy and he proceeded to make a short thank you speech. Towards the end of his speech, he gazed at Natasha, then raised his trophy. “Lastly, this award is for a very special person in my life. Thank you for being there for me always and for inspiring me.”
Even if he didn’t mention her name, people looked at Natasha, speculating on the real score between her and Jeremy now. Natasha felt herself blushing from head to toe, and there seemed to be thousands of butterflies fluttering in her tummy. Oh, Jeremy! Natasha managed to whisper.