Archive for category Fiction

Unexpected Love – Chapter 15

Chapter 15

“Happy, my darling Pippa?” Ethan asked as he and Pippa stood by the railings at the upper deck of a ferry that has been cruising around Manila Bay the past several hours, sipping their drinks and enjoying the beautiful night view before them. His arm was draped over her shoulders and Pippa was hugging him by the waist as she leaned against him.

Pippa and Ethan decided to cap their wonderful evening with a celebration of sorts, a Manila Bay cruise offering a sumptuous dinner and cocktails afterwards. They want to be their first evening as a couple a very memorable one. After reluctantly breaking off the sweet kiss they shared in front of the giant Ferris wheel in Star City, they decided to give the Surf Dance a miss. Instead they walked the length of Harbour Square and along the seawall there and beyond it, while holding hands – enjoying the feeling of being a couple, of loving each other – and drinking mocha frappes from the Starbucks there. They sat on the sea wall, when they found a good vantage point, feet dangling over the water side, with Pippa’s head on Ethan’s shoulder, enjoying the splendor of the Manila Bay sunset. While they were doing it, a ferry boat passed by and that gave them an idea on how they would like to end their wonderful and momentous day.

“Of course, who wouldn’t be happy, with us together like this. This is super happiness, Ethan. I never thought I would feel this way, that finally, I will be so happy like this.” Pippa replied as she sipped her margarita. “I love you, you know, very much, Mr. Ethan Bowman.”

Ethan grinned, then said lovingly, “I love very much too, Ms. Pippa Montenegro.” Ethan lowered his lips to Pippa’s and gave her a searing kiss. Pippa opened her mouth to receive Ethan’s kiss and just like his previous kisses, it felt like a volt of electricity hit her senses when their lips fused. He tasted of the rhum and Coke he have been drinking and so much more. “This has been the most wonderful day of my life! I’m so happy that you are now my girlfriend.”

They soaked in the view, mostly of the beautiful twinkling lights coming from the buildings along the bay, with the gentle sound of the water lapping against the slow moving boat adding to the beautiful evening atmosphere. Everything felt so peaceful. They stayed like that until the boat docked again at the ferry terminal near the Mall of Asia. Ethan and Pippa went back to where they parked the car, hand in hand, as if they didn’t want to be separated from each other’s body even for a several minutes. They headed home for the night.

While navigating the Saturday evening heavy traffic, Pippa marvelled on how life can really change, even in a span of several hours. She feels like she is on top of the world. Ethan felt that he can face anything with Pippa, loving him, even the content of Claudia’s diary. But he doesn’t want to think about the diary at that moment, his and Pippa’s very special night.

“What time do we need to be at the airport tomorrow?” Pippa asked Ethan as she opened the door of her unit more than an hour later. Thank God, no more Martin bothering her! “Ten o’clock ba ang dating ni Ally?”

“Yes, she said around that time. She will be landing at Terminal 2.” Ethan replied. “What time do we need to go there, travel time and all?”

“Hmmm, I was thinking, we should live Q.C. around 8AM kahit na Sunday bukas kasi ang alam ko may road construction malapit sa papuntang airport.” Pippa said, putting her bag down and heading to the kitchen, with Ethan in tow, to drink water. “Would you like something to drink, honey?”

“Just water too, Pippa darling.” Then he smiled. “So, I’m ‘honey’ to you. Hmmm, I like the endearment!”

Pippa blushed. This is the first time she used an endearment for a boyfriend. She never thought of it with her first boyfriend, and with Martin, she was not comfortable calling him with one. Maybe, it should have been a sign she had seen that their relationship was not for keeps. “Errr, yes. I think I prefer calling you, ‘honey’. But I like the way you call me darling in that accent of yours.” Pippa finished grinning, looking at Ethan lovingly.

Ethan walked towards Pippa. “Thank you wonderful Pip. You make me feel so alive. I love you, my darling.”

“I love you too, honey.” See, it is so easy to do say it with Ethan and it thrills her to say it to him.

Ethan caressed Pippa’s face lovingly, then cupped it and lowered his lips to hers. They shared another smouldering kiss that left them red on the face and catching their breaths. “Let’s go sleep.”

“Yes, let’s.” Pippa answered, her lips still tingling from Ethan’s kiss. She took hold of Ethan’s hand and they walked towards the direction of her bedroom.

“Errr, Pip, darling, can I stay with you again?” Ethan asked, suddenly unsure, which is ironic since they have shared a room when they were not yet officially in a relationship!

“Of course, honey!” Pippa said smiling. “Kaya nga dito tayo papunta sa room ko. Why don’t you just bring your bag over to my room. Ally can have the other room, para rin may privacy siya.”

“Really, it is okay with you?” Ethan needed to be sure as he very well know by now that Pippa, before him, has never shared a bed or a room with a guy before.

“Yes. I’m that comfortable with you, Ethan. I trust you too. I know that when something happens between the two of us, it is because we both want to, as you said.” Pippa said frankly. Maybe Ethan’s frankness is rubbing off her. But she feels better saying it. Ethan had already proven to her that he is not the type to take advantage and besides, she loves him to pieces. She also likes waking up with him beside her.

“I must have done something good somewhere in my chaotic, complicated past as now, I have you.” Ethan replied, feeling so humbled and very happy in the trust that Pippa bestowed in him. He promised himself that when, not if, something happens between Pippa and him, the initiative will have  to come from her. He will not break her trust. He hopes he will have the strength to do so. He wants Pippa very much, but he can wait. “Thank you, Pippa.”

Pippa gave Ethan a sweet, trusting smile. “You first in the bathroom. You are faster. I take a bit of a time in the bathroom.”

Ethan took a quick shower and several minutes after, he was out with droplets of water still clinging to his face, a towel wrapped around his waist. Pippa gulped, liking what she saw. “It’s your turn now, darling.” He said with a big smile, seemingly unaware of the effect of his barely-clad body on Pippa’s senses.

Pippa hurried to the bathroom. Ethan rummaged into his bag and looked for something to wear. He found his favorite well-worn t-shirt and pair of gray boxer shorts. He leaned against the headboard to wait for Pippa to come out of the bathroom. He had a goofy smile on his face, remembering their Ferris wheel ride. Pippa came out of the bathroom wearing her usual sleepwear, a pair of shorts and a t-shirt several minutes after. When Ethan saw her, he thought to himself, that he need all his willpower to survive the night. She looks so fresh looking and very lovely even without a shade of make-up on. Unbeknown to Pippa, her simple clothes flatters her figure and made her look lovelier in Ethan’s eyes.

“Sorry, ang tagal ko ba?” Pippa asked Ethan, getting a bit self-conscious, especially the way he was looking at her with admiration in his eyes. “Sana nauna ka nang natulog. I know you are tired na rin.”

“No, you were not matagal naman. It’s okay. I wanted to wait for you.” Ethan said smiling. “Come, let’s go to sleep.” He turned down the comforter and made space for Pippa.

Pippa took the right side of the bed. Ethan slid down and put his arms around Pippa. “Good night, Pip. Sweet dreams, darling.” He hope he will be able to sleep soon as Pippa’s wonderful smell and softness suddenly has the biggest effect on his senses.

“Good night, honey.” Pippa said softly, then gave Ethan a soft kiss on the lips, then settled into the crook of his left arm. He smells so nice. She can stay like that forever.

Several minutes after, Pippa was asleep. While Ethan on the other hand, can’t. He was waiting for his body to settle down. Otherwise, he would be needing a cold shower. Good thing that Pippa didn’t notice his body’s reaction to her. He tried to relax, and half an hour later, he too fell asleep, Pippa comfortably cradled like a babe in his arms. He kissed Pippa affectionately before sleep claimed him. She moved a bit and burrowed deeper into his chest and that made him feel content.

“Rise and shine, beautiful Pip.” Ethan said cheerfully the following morning while looking at a still sleeping Pippa, carrying a tray. He woke up at seven o’clock on his own. He decided to make a treat for Pippa by making her breakfast. He found some a pack of muesli in Pippa’s food cupboard. He also found yogurt in the fridge. He made coffee and juice and decided to wake up Pippa with his simple offering, a way of pampering and thanking her for taking care of him.

Pippa slowly opened her eyes. The first sight she saw was Ethan carrying a tray and she can see two steaming cups of coffee in it and other stuffs. “Good morning, honey. You are up very early.” She smiled at him sweetly, looking so beautiful lying on the bed with her legs and upper body exposed and even with her hair tousled. Then she looked at the clock as she rose and leaned against the headboard. “Oh, not so early after all! I overslept.”

“I made you breakfast. I just fixed it though, and didn’t cook. You know how I am in the kitchen. Good thing, I found muesli in your cupboard. I hope this is okay.” Ethan put the tray on Pippa’s lap then sat beside her. He handed Pippa her coffee, then lightly kiss her on the lips. “Good morning.”

“Thank you for this Ethan.” Pippa said, touched by Ethan’s effort. Before she took a sip of her coffee, she kissed him lightly too. Then she started putting portions of food on the two bowls that Ethan brought with him. They ate a leisurely breakfast, chatting and planning what they will do that day with Ally, then also the following day.

“I almost forgot, the trip to Palawan has been moved to Tuesday, Ethan. My associate producer texted yesterday. Which is a good thing, as you were supposed to go to Werner’s office tomorrow di ba?” Pippa said. “Bettina said the celebrity we are interviewing has an emergency and can only accommodate us from Wednesday onwards.”

“Oh yes, I forgot about that!” Ethan said, with all the wonderful things that had happened between him and Pippa, he completely forgot about Werner and the office visit. “Then it worked perfectly well then! Will the delay not affect your airing date?”

“If it is only a day or two, not really, though the editors will have to work double time due to the delay. But it is still manageable.” Pippa explained. “Anyway, the editors can also work first on the Batangas shoot, then saka na lang itong sa Palawan.”

“Lovely then. I’m looking forward to watching your pilot episode.”

Pippa and Ethan got ready for their trip to the airport after they have finished their breakfast. Two hours later, they were sitting at the coffee shop at the left side of Terminal 2, waiting for Ally’s plane to land.

Pippa is both nervous and happy at Ethan’s sister’s coming. Happy for Ethan, as he told her that he and Ally are very close and that he is looking forward to spending some time with his sister whom he had not seen in more than six months. And the same time, Pippa is nervous on how Ethan’s sister would react to the fact that she is his girlfriend now. Ethan told her on the way to the airport that he has never gotten around to telling Ally about her and his feelings for her as the phone conversation they had was a short one. But Ethan said, he knows Ally would like her a lot. He also said he hopes she will like his sister. Pippa assured him that she will. The rest of the travel to the airport was spent with Ethan telling Pippa about his and Ally’s childhood.

“Should we check if her plane has landed. It is now past 10AM.” Pippa suggested to Ethan. “Let’s wait for her near the entrance where I think most of the passengers are coming out.”

With coffee in hand, they walked to the area where other people are waiting. Soon after, a steady stream of people came out of the glass door near the waiting area. Ethan scanned the faces in the crowd, saw his sister and waved vigorously at her.

“Ethan, so lovely to see you again. I missed you dear brother.” Ally said when she reached the area where Pippa and Ethan are. She hugged her brother tight.

“Lovely to see you too, Ally!” Ethan said with a big smile. Then he looked at Pippa and brought her to his side, hugging her by the waist. “Pippa, meet my sister Ally.” Then to his sister, he said, “Ally, this is Pippa, my girlfriend and the daughter of Mum’s friend, Tita Marianne.”

Pippa smiled at Ethan’s sister. “Hello Ally! I hope you had a good flight!” Ethan’s sister is very lovely and she looks like a female version of Ethan. She saw that Ally was startled when Ethan introduced her as his girlfriend, but she recovered fast.

“Hello, Pippa. Lovely to meet you!” Ally said smiling reservedly. She is a bit like that with people she just met. But she warms up fast when she sees that everything is okay. She has a lot of questions for her brother. It looks like he had really moved on with the beautiful girl by his side. He looks like a man very much in love. He was never like that with Claudia. Yes, she was surprised as Ethan didn’t even mention about having a new girlfriend, but that’s about it. Pippa seems nice enough and she is not a stranger to the family. She is after all her Mum’s friend’s daughter. “The flight was uneventful. A bit tiring though. I want real food after all the airline food I ate. I’m looking forward to eating some Filipino food.”

“Oh, then Ethan and I should bring you to Maginhawa Street! Plenty of Pinoy food to choose from.” Pippa said. “Shall we get going then. Stay here, the two of you, I will just get the car so that you don’t have to drag your luggage to the parking lot.”

“Pip, darling, I can go with you.” Ethan offered, walking towards Pippa. “Ally can you stay here, we will back fast.” He told his sister.

“No , honey, just stay here and keep your sister company and catch up with her. I’ll be fine and I can manage.” Pippa assured Ethan. “Ally, I will be back in a couple of minutes.”

“Thank you, Pippa.” Ally smiled at Pippa more warmly, at the same time, processing with interest the exchanged of terms of endearment between Pippa and her brother.

With a final wave at Ally and Ethan, Pippa walked to the parking lot.

“Hmmmm, there is a lot I don’t know, brother dear.” Ally said as she looked at Pippa’s departing figure which was followed by several male admiring glances. She does look very lovely. Maybe she is a fashion model, she mused. She carries herself well and dresses well. “When we chatted you didn’t mention that you have a new girlfriend! How long have you been together?”

“Because sister dear, at that time, she was not my girlfriend. She only agreed to be my girl yesterday.” Ethan said, smiling happily. “She made me the happiest guy yesterday. She is a very lovely person, inside out and I know you will like her. And no, I’m not doing this just to move on. I could have done that eventually even without her. I just fell in love so unexpectedly to that wonderful girl.”

Hearing her brother, Ally’s initial impression was correct. Her brother is really, really in love for the first time in his life. He sounded different. “Well, I’m happy for you Ethan. You obviously love her a lot. I hope she feels the same way. I don’t want to see you get hurt again.”

“Don’t worry on that aspect, Ally. Pippa is different from Claudia. She is so giving and she does not go into a relationship lightly.  Just be happy for me and Pip.”

“Of course, I do. She seems like a lovely girl. Have you told her about Claudia?” Ally asked.

“Yes, I found myself telling her what happened. I was drawn to her from the start. She had help me enormously to heal, Ally. She is one of a kind.” Ethan finished, his voice full of emotion.

“Really, you did. Then you must think the world of her. You even opened up to her. I’m glad and happy that you found someone like her, Ethan.” Ally hugged her brother affectionately. “So, did you meet in Mindoro? Through her mother? I would like to see the resort where you are staying.”

“Okay, I will tell you more later. But maybe, you should ask Pippa too, and the two of us can tell you about our love story this evening. We are staying at her flat in Quezon City. And yes, Tita Marianne is looking forward to meeting you too.”

“Oh, I thought you had booked us in a hotel. Would it not be a bother, the two of us staying there? Maybe she has other things to do.” Ally said, not wanting to be a bother and beside she does not want to be a third wheel, especially that Ethan and Pippa are just starting their relationship. “Besides, you two just got into a relationship, maybe I’ll be a third wheel. I can stay in a hotel.”

“No worries about staying there. It was Pippa who offered. Besides, I like staying and being with her. She is the reason why I am in Manila currently. She left Mindoro several days ago and I missed her a lot.” Ethan said. “But you are very much welcome to stay there too. Saka, we will go to Palawan with her. She will be working for several days, but after that we can all spend time together.”

“Okay, then, if you are sure.” Ally smiled, happy to spend time with her brother and the lady who made him fall in love for real. “Oh, there’s Pippa. Shall we get going.”

Ethan carried Ally’s suitcases and put in the trunk of Pippa’s car. Ally got into the back seat and Ethan in front.

“Pippa, Ethan said I will be staying in your place too. Thank you very much for putting us up. You are such a lovely person.”Ally said. She has a feeling that she and Ethan’s new girl will become fast friends, unlike she and Claudia. “I’m looking forward to the Palawan trip too.”

“You’re welcome Ally. I’m happy to have you and Ethan in my place.” Pippa smiled at Ally, then looked lovingly at Ethan. “Shall we get going?”

“Okay, darling, and thank you for everything.” Ethan said sweetly, putting his hand on top of Pippa’s, before she put the car to drive, and caressing her a bit. He is just so happy. No matter what Claudia’s diary reveals, he knows he can take it, with Pippa by his side.

Ethan and Pippa smiled lovingly at each other. Ally, seeing this, hopes that this is for keeps and whatever is in Claudia’s diary will not mar the beautiful relationship she was witnessing.

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Unexpected Love – Chapter 14

Chapter 14

“Good morning!” Ethan greeted Pippa with a big smile when he felt her moving from where they ended up together the morning after, in the middle of her bed, just like the last time they shared a bed together. During the course of the night, they just gravitated towards each other again as if there is an invisible magnet pulling them towards each other. Pippa’s head was pillowed on Ethan’s chest and his arms around her.

Pippa smiled, moving a little sideways and looked at Ethan’s smiling, cheerful and so handsome face with a bit of stubble on! “Good morning, Ethan! Did you sleep well?”

“Of course, with you beside me, I slept like a babe!” Ethan grinned, his whole face lighting up. Waking with Pippa by his side, like this, is really the best feeling in the world. “How about you? How are you this morning?”

“I’m good, the best ever. Thank you for taking good care of me.” Pippa replied, then moved to give Ethan a hug. He is the best guy in the world. When they went to bed last night, what had happened when they got home settled in into her system, and her arms just went numbed from the delayed reaction to the ugly scene with Martin. Ethan just held her tight, whispering soothing words to her, caressing her hair gently until she fell asleep in his arms.

“For you, Pippa, anything! You don’t know how much you have comforted me when I had that nightmare. I was glad I was here to comfort you too last night.” Ethan caressed Pippa’s face gently and lovingly with his knuckles as they shared a gaze that spoke volumes, understanding and speaking to each other even without words. Soon after, the caress was replace by something else, something more basic, and yet deeper and more meaningful.

“Pippa,” Ethan whispered as he lowered his mouth to hers. Pippa tilted her head a bit to receive Ethan’s kiss. Their lips met and locked into a smouldering kiss. It went on like forever, so lost they were with what they were feeling at that moment. Ethan found himself caressing Pippa and she was doing the same, caressing his back, his arms, his face, nape and everything she could touch as she tried not to drown in the sensation Ethan’s kisses was evoking in her whole being.

“Pippa, my darling!” Ethan muttered, fighting of the passion which was consuming them, and leading them to the point of no return. “Darling, I think we need to stop, while I still can, while we still can.” He managed to say in between catching his breath and controlling his body’s reaction to Pippa’s touch and kisses.

Pippa at first, just looked dazedly at Ethan with her lips swollen from the kisses they have shared, not comprehending fully what he was trying to say, then the sudden realization. “Oh,” she managed to say and then blushed, burying her face on Ethan’s broad chest.

Ethan cupped Pippa’s face, looking deeply into her eyes. “Pippa, I want you. I want to make love to you,” he said very straightforward. “But I want you to want it too. I want you to be sure, and not because of the heat of the moment or the circumstances we found ourselves in. I know it would be something beautiful between us, but it has to happen at the right moment, at the right time, and most important of all, when you are ready.”

Pippa completely understood what Ethan meant. She nodded. She loves him the more for this, so unlike Martin! Then she realized what she had just said in her head. She loves Ethan, with all of her! Her heart started beating fast and suddenly, she can’t breath with the sudden rush of emotion and with her realization. She never felt like this before. Her mom is right. You just know! She tried to calm herself. “I understand, Ethan. Thank you. I’m so lucky to have you in my life.”

Pippa and Ethan shared a smile, a look and both of them felt at that instance that they crossed into a deeper level of their relationship.

“Halika, let’s get up na. I’ll cook you breakfast.” Pippa said after a while, then tried to leave the bed.

“Hmmmm, mamaya na lang please!” Ethan held Pippa’s arm to stop her and reeled her back to the bed. “Maaga pa naman. I want to stay in bed with you pa.”

“Mr. Bowman, sure ka ba diyan? Sabi mo nga, we needed to stop, tapos heto, we will spend more time pa in bed. Temptation, you know!” Pippa teased him, at the same time, finding the best space in the bed, in his arms.

“Hmmmm, I’m that hard to resist, huh.” Ethan said with a big smile, teasing Pippa with an exaggerated pose.

“Swell head, hahahaha. You looked like Gaston in Beauty and the Beast witht that pose! Strutting like a peacock and flexing his muscles to Belle!”

Ethan and Pippa shared a big laugh, then looked at each other again, then cuddled while they talked about their plans for the rest of the day. They only got up when Pippa heard Ethan’s tummy grumbling.

“Halika na kasi. Hayan, you are hungry na. I’ll make you brunch.” Pippa dragged herself out of the bed. “Bathroom lang ako.”

“Okay, Darling Pip, you are the boss.” Ethan sighed, stretched his arms, then got out of the bed too. “I’ll make coffee. Mauna na ako sa kitchen mo. Sige na, do what you need to do, I’ll just figure out where everything is.”

When Pippa emerged from her room several minutes later, Ethan had coffee brewing. He did manage to find everything. He even took out the cold cuts, bread and jam she bought yesterday.

“I’ll just be a second, Pippa. I need to use the loo.” Ethan said.

Several minutes after, he was back too, then they had a cozy breakfast, or brunch for that matter.

“So, Manila it is for us today.” Pippa said as she buttered her third slice of bread for the morning. She didn’t realize how hungry she was until she had taken the first bite of the sandwich Ethan made for her.

“Yes, we can just drive around and then see what strikes our fancy. Would that be okay, for you to drive me around? I can relieve you, but maybe better if you do it please as I might get us hopelessly lost.” Ethan said with a grin.

“Oh, I don’t mind driving.” Pippa replied. “I’m happy to do it.”

Pippa and Ethan tidied up the kitchen together, then went to their respective rooms to get ready for their Saturday afternoon playing tourists in the city.

Pippa emerged from her room wearing shorts that showed off her long legs, a sleeveless top, a small bag slung across her chest and her most comfortable pair of ballet flats. Ethan admired the casual look she projects from the doorway of his room. “She is really the loveliest girl, inside out.” he mused.

Pippa chose that moment to look at Ethan and gave him a smile that lit up her whole face. Ethan at that moment realized how much he love this wonderful and lovely girl who got into his heart unexpectedly but wonderfully so. His heart skipped a beat and he felt he can’t breath from the rush of love he was feeling at that moment for Pippa. It felt so overwhelming and alien to him. It was way beyond the feelings he thought he had for Claudia. The truth is, he never felt like this before.

“Let’s go.” Pippa said, breaking into Ethan’s bemused expression. He smiled at her and her heart jumped. He looks so handsome in the shorts, t-shirt, and sneakers he put on that afternoon. He was looking at her strangely, wonderfully so. “Ethan,” she called his attention again. “Earth to Ethan!”

“Oh, okay, let’s go Pip.” Ethan said, taking hold of Pippa’s hand and intertwining it with his.

“Hmmm, you just went off. Is something the matter?” Pippa asked Ethan while they walked along the corridor leading to the elevator. At the same time, the scene from last night crept into her thoughts. She squeezed Ethan’s hand, for comfort.

“Don’t think about it anymore, Pip. It’s okay. You were so brave last night. You stood up to him. Forget about him.” Ethan squeezed Pippa’s hand back, wanting her to know that he is just there for her. “As for me, I’m very much okay. I just had a wonderful realization earlier.” He finished with a smile that lit up his face.

“Hmmm, and what is that, Mr. Bowman, if I may ask?” Pippa smiled at Ethan.

“Secret for now. I will tell you about it, Ms. Montenegro when the moment is right.” He replied, at the same time, giving her a light kiss.

“Sige na nga. Promise, you will tell me ha.” Pippa said as she pressed the elevator button going down.

“Promise, cross my heart.” Ethan put their clasped hand on his chest.

They shared a loving smile, and that was what the people inside the elevator saw when it opened to their floor. They can’t help but smile, seeing these couple so in love with each other. So, they thought.

Pippa and Ethan’s first stop turned out to be Pippa’s alma mater. While they were driving along Quezon Avenue, Ethan asked Pippa where she went to school and how it was like the first time she was in Manila alone to study. Pippa drove him towards the University of Santo Tomas campus while telling him of her college life. They walked around the sprawling campus for an hour, hands clasped, eating ice cream, and chatting.

Their next stop was Chinatown where they explored the shops and the interesting streets of the place, then off they went to the other usual tourist spots in Manila – to Fort Santiago, crossing to Manila Cathedral, then around Intramuros by foot – San Agustin Church, Casa Manila, Bahay Tsinoy, and the walled city’s interesting cobblestone streets. Pippa showed Ethan her favorite part of Intramuros, the Puerto Real Gardens. Too bad that section was closed off at that moment. They walked back to where she parked her car when they had her fill of the walled city.

Since it was merienda time, they ended up having coffee and snacks in the newly-restored Luneta Hotel, which Pippa have been wanting to check out since she saw one of her friends Facebook post on the beautiful hotel just after it opened last year.

“Wow, this hotel is really something!” Ethan remarked as they enjoyed their coffee. “I like the architecture.”

“Yes, it is beautiful. I always admire it everytime I passed by, when it was still abandoned. I’m glad it was restored, unlike some of the old structures in the city. Looked at the Metropolitan Theater we passed by, the one I pointed out to you after the bridge.”

“Oh, yes, that one. A pity isn’t it. It has a beautiful facade too.” Ethan remarked, thinking that it is a pity to let go of historical buildings, just like that.

Pippa and Ethan chatted about old buildings, with Ethan said Pippa will like Europe with her love of old buildings and structures. They stayed in the hotel’s cafe for an hour, then took Roxas Boulevard, and ended up in the CCP Complex. When Ethan saw the amusement park there, he cajoled Pippa into going, saying he has not been in one in ages. Pippa, smiling, indulged Ethan as she realized too that the last time she was in Star City was when she was a kid, with her parents.

Ethan wanted to try all the rides, and they did, except for the Surf Dance and the giant Ferris wheel. They opted to save those rides for last.

“Ethan, I’m not sure I can.” Pippa said when they were in front of the giant Ferris wheel. “I haven’t ridden one. Though, I want to try. I’m just a bit scared of heights.” Pippa admitted. “But, I really don’t want to live in fear or not try conquering it, so there is a part of me that want to try and ride it.”

“But would you like to try now? If you are scared, I’m here. I’ll be with you in this.” Ethan said with a reassuring smile to Pippa.

Pippa gulped, took a deep breath, then looked at Ethan. “Okay, let’s go. I know you will be there for me so it should be okay.”

“That’s the spirit, Pip!” Ethan admired Pippa’s determination to conquer her fear.

Soon after, they were inside their air-conditioned gondola, about to ascend. The Ferris wheel started moving up, and Pippa held on to Ethan while trying to control the seemingly thousands of butterflies in her stomach. Ethan put his arms around Pippa. She leaned against his broad chest as the Ferris wheel slowly went up, until the grounds became a small dot. Ethan advised Pippa not to look down as it would make her feel woozy. At the top, the view was incredible!

“Wow!” Pippa remarked as she looked around. She can see the whole Roxas Boulevard, with a magnificent view of the Manila Bay and the setting sun. It was picture perfect, especially with Ethan’s arms around her, keeping her safe, assuring her that he is there for her.

“Wonderful, isn’t it? When we go England, I’ll take you up in the London Eye.” Ethan remarked. “For sure, one day, the two of us will end up there.” He said confidently, at the same time keeping his fingers crossed that they will really do. He wants to show Pippa his world too, if she will allow it.

“That, I want to see and experience. Basta ba kasama kita eh.” Pippa said, gaining confidence. She looked up at Ethan. She feel so full of love for him.

The Ferris wheel started its descend then and before Ethan can say anything else, Pippa let out an exhilarating scream and held on to him for dear life as she felt her tummy getting hollowed from the fast descend. It was fun, though!

Pippa enjoyed the next ascend and descend, and the whole Ferris wheel experience.

“Wooh,” she exclaimed when they were on firm ground again. Her knees were wobbly. Then she laughed while holding on to Ethan’s arm. “That was the best ever, Ethan. Thank you for taking me up there and being with me!” Pippa said animatedly and with a smile that made her so beautiful and alive in Ethan’s eyes. He can’t take his eyes off her vibrant face.

“I love you, Pippa! ” Ethan suddenly said, softly.

“Ethan….” Pippa was surprised at what he said, at the same time, her heart beat like crazy.

“Be my girl, please, Pippa.” Ethan added, with all the love he is feeling for her on his face.

Pippa swallowed heart, then said, “Yes,I will be your girl.” She gave Ethan a tremulous, happy smile. She said softly, “I love you too, very much.”

Ethan smiled. He looked like someone who won the lottery. “Thank you, Pippa. Promise, I will not make you cry. I love you very much!”

The noise around them faded in Ethan and Pippa’s world, as they looked at each other with all the love they are feeling. They moved towards a kiss that sealed their newly-declared feelings for each other.

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Unexpected Love – Chapter 13

Chapter 13

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.

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Unexpected Love – Chapter 11

Chapter 11

Pippa plopped herself down on her sofa as soon as she got home. She was very tired from the trip. It took a long time for the bus to reach Manila. By the time they entered the city, traffic was already a bit heavy. From the bus terminal, she took a taxi to her place. Next time, maybe she could just take the RORO and bring her car over. It is more convenient and faster. But as this trip was unscheduled and unplanned, she didn’t manage to do that.

Her stomach started grumbling, but Pippa was not sure if she has something to tide her over in her fridge! It was almost empty before she left. Whatever bread she had several days ago is probably very old by now. Better order some food! She called her favourite fast food’s delivery service and order a large fries,  double cheese burger, a chocolate sundae and a large Coke.

Orders done, Pippa called Ethan’s number. He answered on the third ring.

“Hello Pippa!” Ethan greeted Pippa, happy to hear from her. “You made it safely home?”

“Hi Ethan, yes I did. I got caught in the traffic, pero okay lang. Next time, I will just bring my car over para hindi na ako mag-bus.” Pippa said.

“I think that’s a good idea!” Ethan said as he settled into the Montenegro’s veranda. Marianne took a nap and Manang Doray went to the resort so it was just him on the ground floor.

“So, what have you been up to since I left, aside from buying a mobile phone?” Pippa asked. “Speaking of, hindi ko pa pala natatawagan si Tristan!”

“Well, that’s about it. I had coffee while Tristan had breakfast and we chatted. Then after getting the phone and buying stuffs after, I headed back here, ate lunch with your Mum and Manang Doray. Now, I’m about to check my e-mail while at your porch. The signal here is better.”

“Oh, where’s Mom? I haven’t called her also.” Pippa asked, remembering that she promised to let her know she is home.

“She went upstairs to take a nap. But I think she is watching the telly.” Ethan smiled. “I will just tell her later that you have already rung.”

“I think so too.” Pippa smiled conspiratorially. She knows her Mom watches her favorite afternoon soap reiligiously. “Okay, just let her know please. Thanks Ethan.”

Before Pippa could say something more, her house phone rang. “Opps, sorry Ethan, I need to take this. My food delivery is here I think.”

Pippa told the reception to send the delivery guy to her unit. Then she went back to Ethan. “I’m back. I’m hungry so I ordered my fast food fix! I don’t think I have any food left in the house.”

“What will you have?” Ethan asked, suddenly, he too is craving for some unhealthy and greasy food.

“Burger, fries, chocolate sundae, Coke, the works!” Pippa replied!

“Wow, I wish I’m there eating those with you. I haven’t had my fast food fix since I moved here!” Ethan said.

“Well, you can have your fill when you make it here on Friday!” Pippa replied. “What time will you be coming? Oh, wait a second, the delivery guy is at the door. I will just get my food. Hold on, please, Ethan.”

Pippa returned after several minutes, munching fries. “Sorry, I’m eating while I’m talking to you. I will put the phone on speaker rin ha.”

“Go ahead, Pip, it is fine with me. I feel tortured though, imagining the food.” Ethan jested.

“Sorry, Ethan. I wish I can beam you over so you can share this.” Pippa said, smiling.

“Just teasing you, Pip! Go ahead and eat. I’m just teasing you. I know you must be hungry if your last meal was the one we shared this morning. I would like to be there with you, though. The house is lonesome with you.” Ethan suddenly said.

Pippa’s heart skipped a beat with that statement. “I wish you are here too, Ethan.” Pippa said softly. “Di bale, ilang days na lang. I will pick you up from the bus station. Just let me know approximately what time you will be there.”

“Sure about, Pip? I can just take a cab to your place.” Ethan offered.

“Hay naku, I will just pick you up. Huwag kang mag-aalala, okay lang. That way, hindi rin ako magwo-worry na baka mabiktima ka ng unscrupulous cabbies in the metro. Foreigner na foreigner pa naman ang hitsura mo.”

“Ha, but they don’t know I can speak Tagalog and I can shout ‘saklolo’!” Ethan jested.

“Hahahaha, ‘saklolo’ talaga, Ethan. I haven’t heard that word in a while.” Pippa said laughing.

Ethan laughed with Pippa. “Okay, I will send you an SMS then, when I’m near Manila. I’ll see you Friday, Pippa. I’ll say goodbye now so you can enjoy your meal.” He sighed dramatically.

“Okay, see you. Enjoy the rest of the day!” Pippa said, laughing.

“You too! I’m looking forward to Friday!” Ethan said before he ended the call.

Pippa ate her fast food fix while Ethan on the other hand, booted his MacBook and started checking his e-mail. He had quite a lot since he has not check for two weeks or so. He went through his Inbox, most of them are just junks, anyway. He was about to compose an e-mail to Werner, his acquaintance from Belgium when he notice another mail in his Inbox. It is from his sister.

Ethan opened Ally’s mail with trepidation. Ally seldom wrote. The last letter she sent him was when he was in Indonesia.

Dear Ethan,

How are you doing down there in Mindoro? I would have rung instead of sending this e-mail if you had managed to replace the mobile Mummy said you have lost in Thailand. I don’t want to be a bother to Mummy’s friend to get in touch with you. Anyway, what I will tell you is very important for a phone conversation. I’ll wait until I see you in person. 

I have decided to come to the Philippines because of it, and also to have some much needed vacation. I have booked my flight and I’m leaving London on Saturday. I should be there early Sunday. Can you pick me up at the airport in Manila?

E-mail back so I know you have read this. 

Take care and see you soon.

Ally

Instead of replying to his sister’s e-mail, Ethan decided to give her a call. Good thing, he had a back up of his phone book in his computer. Ethan hoped his sister has not left for work yet.

“Hello, Allison Bowman, here.” Ally said when she picked up the call. She had a pretty good idea that it is her brother because of the country code, but she was not one hundred percent sure.

“Hi Ally, Ethan here! I bought a new mobile today, would you believe of all days. How are you? How’s Mum and Dad? Have you seen them lately?” Ethan asked in rapid succession.

“Whoa, Ethan, slow down.” Ally said, happy to hear from her brother. “Welcome back to the real world, Ethan. I’m glad you got yourself a mobile again.”

“I realised I needed one after all.” Ethan said sheepishly, not admitting to his sister that the reason he got one was because of Pippa. “You are coming for a visit, Ally? Great! You said you want to talk to me about something?”

“Well, first, brother, Mummy and Daddy are both doing great. They are going on a cruise later in the month. I had dinner with them last night to tell them of my plans to travel to the Philippines!” Ally said. “About the other thing, shouldn’t it wait until we see each other as it is a long story and I need to give you something to go with it?”

“Could you tell me what’s it all about, please. The suspense is going to kill me, Ally!” Ethan insisted. “Since you said both Mum and Dad are doing great, then it could not be about them.”

“Okay, Ethan, but I would like to ask you first, how are you truly?” Ally asked.

Ethan knew what Ally was asking him. “I’m doing quite good, Ally. You don’t have to tiptoe around what happened anymore. I have dealt with Claudia and the baby’s death. You know, accepted that they are gone. But I must admit, I still blame myself. I didn’t see the signs and I felt like I have let Claudia down! But before you call, I was already thinking of heading back to England, to find answers, put everything in order and see if Claudia’s parents are better now.”

“Ethan, I’m glad that you are moving on. This is the longest you have said on the matter to me, or to Mummy. You just clammed up on us. “Ally said emotionally. “But please, know that it is not your fault. We, your family, never thought that. None of what happened was your fault. It was tragic but it was not your fault. And I think you will not have to come back to find your answers.”

“How can you say that, Ally! Maybe, if I had looked paid attention closely, gave her the attention she wanted from me,  she would still be alive today!” Ethan said. “And why would I won’t need to come back? Did something happen while I was away?”

“Ethan, listen, it is not your fault. There were some aspects of Claudia’s life she hid from you. I found that out after she died. Besides, you may find all the answers you are looking for in the diary she left behind.”

“What? She had one? I cleaned our flat before I had it listed at the realty agent you recommended to me. I didn’t find anything.” Ethan said, surprised.

“Well, the new owner, who incidentally, happened to be a colleague of mine at work discovered it by accident two weeks ago while having the creaking floor boards repaired. Claudia’s diary was hidden there. Jenny gave it to me, thinking that it might be very important to you, having known what happened a bit.” Ally explained. “I didn’t open it. It is not for me to do so. I thought of giving it to her parents, but the way they treated you after she died stopped me. Besides, after having it, you can decide what to do with it. Give it to them if you want to.”

“I never thought to look there! Yes, several of the floor boards were a bit loose. I have been meaning to have them fixed but never gotten around to doing so.” Ethan said. “I will wait for your arrival then. I will be in Manila, anyway, this weekend so it jibes with my schedule.”

“You will be?” Ally asked. “ What a nice coincidence! I thought your feet are firmly planted on Mindoro’s soil. Mum’s friend told Mum.”

“Yes, well, err, I’m just visiting a friend and meeting a guy a I met for some work I could do. Which reminds me, if you have some free time, could you ask Mum for my birth papers and some other documents I might need in applying for dual citizenship!”

“You will apply for one? Do you need it? Is your British one not enough?”  Ally asked, curious.

“I want to stay in the Philippines for good, Ally.” Ethan told his sister. “It would be easier if I have a dual citizenship. Besides, we are half-Filipinos naman, di ba?”

“Well, yes, you are correct. That’s one of the reasons why Mum taught us how to speak the language.” Ally said. “Okay, I will get the papers. I’ll see you on Sunday. I think you owe me a lot of stories. Now, I better get moving and go to work.”

“See you, Al. Promise, we will chat the night away. Have a good flight!” Ethan said, then ended the call. Now he needs to buy more load cards for his phone. He decided to do that, leaving a note to Marianne that he borrowed the motorbike.

While on the road, Ethan thought of what Ally had said. He was nervously anticipating reading Claudia’s last thoughts and the same time, hoping that it will contain the closure that he needed so he can completely move on. It would be good to see his sister too. He realized how he had missed her while talking to her earlier. They have always been close. In fact, it was through her, though indirectly, that he met Claudia. While Claudia is a friend of one of her very good friends, her sister was quite vocal that she didn’t like her for Ethan as there was something not right with Claudia. However, she also told him, it’s his life and that maybe, she was not being fair anyway by disliking her. Ethan thought, for sure, Ally will like Pippa. He is looking forward to introducing Pippa to her, and his sister to Pippa.

That evening, Ethan mentioned to Marianne that his sister is coming for a visit. Marianne said that Ally is also welcome to stay either in the cottage with Ethan or in the main house as there are plenty of rooms there, especially now that Pippa is back in Manila. Ethan thanked her and then told her also that he is going to Manila to meet hs Belgian friend and visit Pippa. He also told Marianne that he would be staying in Pippa’s place. When she heard this, Marianne thought, her daughter and Ethan have really gotten very, very close. She also thought that Pippa is the main reason Ethan suddenly thought of going to Manila, but she kept her counsel as her daughter is old enough to know what she is doing and she trusts Ethan.

That evening, Pippa and Ethan chatted again on the phone. Pippa told Ethan that she did manage to call Tristan and her mom. Ethan mentioned to Pippa that Ally is coming, but not about Claudia’s diary. He would like to tell her about it in person. Pippa told him they can pick up Ally from the airport, then she too can stay in her place before they travel back to Mindoro. Ethan thanked Pippa for her generous offer. Pippa assured him it is completely okay and that she looking forward to meeting his sister.

Their conversation moved on to other topics. They only realized that they have been chatting for hours when Pippa’s phone made a warning signal that its battery is almost drained. They decided to call it a night then.

“Good night Pippa.” Ethan said, very happy. “And good luck on your production meeting tomorrow.”

“Thanks a lot, Ethan. For sure, I will have a long day tomorrow. But better to finish everything before you arrive so we can spend more time together.” Pippa said.

“I’m looking forward to that. Good night. Sweet dreams!” Ethan said, smiling at the other end of the line.

“Have a good sleep, Ethan! Think happy thoughts.” Pippa said smiling.

“I will!” Ethan said, reluctant to end the call.

Pippa and Ethan finally ended the call with big smiles on their faces after several more minutes of bantering amid the warning beep of Pippa’s phone, both are very eager to see each other again in several days.

 

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Unexpected Love – Chapter 10

Chapter 10

Ethan returned to the place where he parked the motorcycle when he can’t see Pippa’s ferry anymore from where he stood by the harbor. He felt at a lost on what to do next. Before Pippa came into his life, he had established a routine for himself in Puerto Galera. Now, he can’t think of any of those. Finishing what he was reading does not appeal to him, nor does developing new game programs. He was mulling his options when he heard someone called him.

“Ethan! Hello! What brings you to town so early?” Tristan asked from his left. He was carrying a brown paper bag from the local bakery.

“Hi Tristan! I took Pippa here. How are your patients? I hope they are all doing well and on the way to recovery! How’s the driver of the jeepney?” Ethan replied, sitting on the motorcycle seat leisurely to chat with the doctor.

“They are all doing okay. Nakalabas na ang karamihan nang nadala sa clinic. The driver will need to stay in the clinic, though, for several days pa since his injuries are more serious than the others, but he is out of harm’s way.” Tristan replied. “So, where’s Pippa? I would like to say hello and tell her I can probably make it back to the house this evening.”

“Oh, I thought she managed to send you an SMS before she left! Pippa went back to Manila unexpectedly. She needed to start the new program she will be producing. Her ferry just left.” Ethan explained. He was surprised that Pippa forgot to send a message to Tristan that she will go back to Manila that day!

“She returned to Manila already! Sayang naman, we didn’t really get to chat and touch base.” Tristan said, looking crestfallen. “Hindi kasi kami makaalis ni Josh yesterday! Anyway, if I’m free later, I will just say hello to Tita Marianne.”

“She will like it. For sure, she is a bit sad at the moment since Pippa just left. She was looking forward to have some bonding time with Pippa.” Ethan replied.

“Sige, I will do that. Babalik ka na ba sa bahay nila?” Tristan asked.

“Well, when you called me, I was thinking of what I would like to do next. I got used to hanging out with Pippa in such a short time, and now that she is gone, I’m at a loose end.” Ethan admitted.

“You and Pippa have really gotten close in such a short time, huh?” Tristan said, finding an opening to check if his reading of the situation is correct. “She is normally a bit reserve with people she just met.”

“She is a very nice person and I like her a lot.” Ethan replied. He knew what direction Tristan is taking. He was fishing for information on his and Pippa’s relationship. He saw him looking at them and wondering. Well, who can’t blame him, He saw them on the bed together, no matter how innocent it was.

“I enjoyed her company very much. She is beautiful inside out, sweet, level-headed, intelligent, and nurturing.” Ethan added, not realizing that to the other man, he looks like a man in love, or on the way there, when he said those things about Pippa.

“Wow, you have read Pippa like that when you have only known her for several days!” Tristan remarked, surprised at Ethan’s insight into Pippa. He now, is able to confirm that Ethan has developed feelings for Pippa.

“I feel like I have known her a long time. I guess, sometimes, really knowing someone does not really depends on how long you know a person, but rather on how you really connected and learned about each other’s innermost thoughts. That you just found yourself opening to that person. That kind of thing!” Ethan said, then turned serious, “I’ll be direct with you Tristan, as I know you are one of the friends she values, I like her a lot and I would like to get to know her more, and spend more time with her. Where it would lead us, I don’t know yet. But I would like to assure you that I will not hurt her, in any way.”

“Ethan, I have known Pippa most of her life. It was only the last couple of years that we haven’t been regularly in touch. In all the years I have known her, even as friends, we have never stayed in a room like you and she did. She must have like you a lot too and cared for you for her to do that.” Tristan told the other man. “And I will hold to that promise that you will not hurt her. In the end, everything is up to Pippa rin.”

“Really!” Ethan felt his heart skipped a beat at that revelation He also thought that it was something Pippa had not done before. He felt very happy. “I know you like her a lot too, Tristan. I saw you looking at her.”

“Well, yes, but she has not treated me like she had been treating you. She actually treats me like a friend or an older brother!” Tristan remarked. “But, I heard from Tita Marianne that she has a boyfriend in Manila.”

“Oh that, maybe you should ask Pippa about it.” Ethan simply said. “Maybe, you should give her a call. May I also offer a piece of unsolicited advice?” Ethan asked before he can’t stop himself. He is normally a reserve and let live person but ever since he started living in Mindoro, he started to loosen up, especially after meeting Pippa.

“Sure, but maybe, we should go inside that restaurant and have coffee and some food. I haven’t had breakfast.” Tristan suggested. “How about you?”

“I had breakfast with Pippa earlier as her ferry was delayed. But I could use another cup of coffee. Too early for a beer!” Ethan  said smiling. “Besides, by the time we are finished, I would know what I would like to do next.”

Ethan and Tristan entered the restaurant and not a few ladies looked at the striking figures they created. Both of them tall and both are handsome in their own distinct way. Tristan has this boy next door look that had some of the ladies in the restaurant wanting to cook a hot dinner for him and take care of him. Ethan on the other hand, had that adventurous look on him that had the ladies longing to just ride a motorcycle somewhere with him, no questions asked!

Tristan ordered the same breakfast Pippa had, while Ethan just ordered a cup of brewed coffee.

“So, what was it you were supposed to advise me, Ethan?” Tristan asked while they were waiting for their orders.

“Oh, well, never mind that. Maybe, that was presumptuous of me. We haven’t really know each other that well for me to say something personal to you.” Ethan said.

“No, no, please continue. If Pippa likes you, then you should be okay. She is a pretty good judge of character.” Tristan assured Ethan.

Ethan likes the fact that Tristan said that Pippa likes him. “Well yes, I’m not a love guru or anything, the opposite in fact. But maybe, you should really think why you haven’t courted Pippa until now, despite the fact that you like her and the opportunities. I gathered that you haven’t right? Is it because you consider her to be a friend or is it because, she is just that – a friend and not really someone you like in a romantic way?”

Tristan just looked at Ethan after he said that. The food arrived, breaking into the sudden silence between them.

“See, I told you old chap, I maybe meddling into something very personal. My apologies! My only excuse is I like Pippa a lot, and you are a very dear friend to her.” Ethan said, not mentioning that he also know someone else who loves Tristan very much. Or he thought so! He was also wondering what came over him, doing that. That is really so unlike him! Maybe, he wants to play cupid between him and Belle whom he likes a lot too. She reminds him of his sister Ally.

“No, no, it’s okay.” Tristan said, assuring Ethan. Chewing his food thoughtfully, he said, “That’s something to think about. Thank you. So, when do you see Pippa next?” He decided to do probing of his own.

“Maybe in a couple of days! I’m heading to Manila soon to see a Belgian guy I became friends with. He stayed at The Cove too the first week I was here. We started talking some software development job I could take.” Ethan replied while sipping his coffee.

“Oh, you are thinking of staying here for good?” Tristan asked surprised.

“Well, I have been thinking more and more about it lately. I like it here, than England.” Ethan said. “My Mum’s family is from Davao. I still have some uncles and aunts and cousins there. I have seen them several times pa lang and I was too young to remember our visits there. But if I will stay here for good, I would like to have Puerto Galera as my base. I don’t mind living in Manila from time to time too.”

Tristan thought about what Ethan said. Then asked directly too, “Is Pippa a factor in that plan of yours?”

Now, it was Ethan’s time to look out thoughtfully, and processed what Tristan said. Then quietly, he said, after a while, “Yes”.

Tristan nodded, now knowing exactly where the lay of the land is. It seems like there was really a lot he had missed the past several days! Judging by the way Pippa is acting, even forgetting to text him that she is leaving Mindoro, Ethan’s feelings is not one sided.

They left the restaurant an hour later. After the silent understanding between them, their conversation shifted to the local happenings.

“O paano, Ethan, I will go back to the clinic na. Baka gusto mo munang dumaan and say hello to Josh.” Tristan said. “Iyon nga lang, mawawala na naman sa concentration ang mga nurse namin. It happens, every time you dropped by with Tita Marianne.”

Ethan just smiled. The nurses teased him a lot every time he passed by the clinic and pretended to fight over him. “Say hello to Susan and Marita and to Josh too. Now I know what I want to do, try to find a mobile phone.”

“You don’t have one?” Tristan asked.

“You are just like Pippa when I told her I don’t have one. I lost it in Thailand. I didn’t see any point in getting one until now.” Ethan said.

He may not say it, but Tristan know that Ethan’s decision to get one has something to do with Pippa again. “Well, I think you can get one here if you only need a basic one. But for a smart phone I think you may have to go to Batangas or Calapan for that.” Tristan said.

“Oh, I don’t need anything fancy. Just something I can use to call and send SMS. One of those phones where you don’t need a subscription plan.” Ethan said.

“Then, you might be able to find it in that store by the corner, near the church.” Tristan said.

“Okay, thank you.” Ethan said. “I’ll see you later if you make it to the house. Should I mention it to Tita Marianne?

“No, there’s no need for that. I will just give her a call.” Tristan replied. “See you.” He waved at Ethan, at the same time, mulling at what he said to him earlier.

Ethan found the shop and managed to find himself a nice phone, surprisingly. He both a SIM card and enough load cards for it. He is planning to call Pippa as soon as he gets her number from Tita Marianne.

More than 30 minutes later, he was back at Pippa’s house. He parked the motorcycle at its usual spot. He also noticed that Marianne’s car is back in the garage. So Manong Ben is back, he mused. He opened the front door with the key Marianne insisted that he has. The house looked empty. It’s very quiet. He turned towards the veranda and suddenly, he remembered the first time he saw Pippa standing there. He was staring at the garden when Marianne called him from the direction of the kitchen.

“Ethan, hijo, nakabalik ka na pala! Medyo natagalan ka yata.” Marianne said by way of a greeting.

“Hello Tita Marianne, na-delay po kasi iyong ferry ni Pippa. I waited with her na lang. Nag-breakfast na lang kami sa restaurant sa may harbor until the time she boarded. Then I saw Tristan in town. He said he will give you a call. I bought some things I needed also. By the way, these are for you and Manang Doray.” Ethan a bag to Marianne!

“Thank you for these Ethan.” Marianne saw ripe mangoes, grapes and avocado inside the bag and some pastries and pies. “Naku, favorite pa naman ni Manang Doray mo itong egg pie na binili mo. I’ll expect Tristan’s call then. Baka mamaya pa iyon tumawag.”

“No worries po, I’m happy to.” Ethan said with a smile. “Errr, Tita Marianne, I bought a mobile phone. May I have Pippa’s number? She told me to get it from you when I manage to get one.”

“You did?” Marianne asked surprised. In all the time he had been living there, he was disinterested in getting a new phone, now suddenly all of a sudden, he bought one. Hmmm, parang alam na niya kung bakit at kung sino ang nakapagpabili kay Ethan ng bagong phone!

“Yes. I realized I need one.” Ethan simply replied.

“Okay, here it is.” Marianne said giving Ethan her phone so he can copy Pippa’s number. Hindi siya masyadong tech savvy and does not know how to send it via that bluetooth!

“Got it Tita Marianne, many thanks.” Ethan said. “I’ll go to the cottage now. Later, may stay in the veranda? I need to send e-mails.”

“Sure, sabi ko naman sa iyo, hindi mo na kailangang magpaalam. Just come and go.” Marianne said.

“Thank you, Tita Marianne!” Ethan said.

While the WiFi signal from the router in the house reaches the cottage, it is not very strong so Ethan usually stays in the veranda to send e-mails and check something online. He went back to the cottage, humming. He was not so blue anymore.

When Ethan reached the cottage, he called the number Tita Marianne gave him.

“Hello…? Pippa said tentatively from the other line when she picked up. She thought the call might be work connected as the number is unknown.

“Hello Pip! Its Ethan! I got myself a new mobile this morning!” Ethan said grinning as he settled into the couch.

“Ethan! That was fast! Great! Nasaan ka na ngayon?” Pippa said happily.

“I’m back at the cottage. I saw Tristan pala in town.” Ethan said. “Where are you now?”

“Oh my, I forgot to text Tristan or call him before I left!” Pippa just realized. “I’ll just call him when I get home. I’m at the Batangas Port na, waiting for the bus to leave, which is about now.”

“Okay, I will just call again later, let me know when you are already home.” Ethan said as he can hear a lot of noise in the background. “Take care.”

“Okay, I will send you a text message as soon as I am home.” Pippa said. “Ethan, I’m glad you got yourself a phone.” She added, smiling and happy since she can keep constant communication with Ethan.

“Me too, Pippa! Me, too!” Ethan said happily. “I’ll wait for your SMS, okay. Good bye for now!”

“Until later!” Pippa replied, then clutched her phone to her chest with a dreamy smile after she and Ethan ended the call.

Ethan lingered on the couch, put his feet up, and stared at the ceiling with a goofy smile on his face. Soon, he will see Pippa. He is planning to go Manila by Friday, three long days, but still, he will see her soon, unlike if he waits lang in Puerto Galera for her possible return.

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Unexpected Love – Chapter 9

Chapter 9

“Pippa, anak, please visit soon ha! Ingat ka sa biyahe, and please text me as soon as you get home. Saka, make sure, you always eat, lalo na when you are working. Huwag puro kape na lang. Feeling ko nakakalimutan mo nang kumain on time! ” Mommy Marianne said as she said goodbye to Pippa the following morning at the gate of their family home.

“Yes, Mom, I will. Text ko po kayo kaagad pagkadating ko sa condo. I promise to eat properly and as soon as maplantsa ko ang lahat regarding this new program, and I’m sure that I can stay longer, I will come back.” Pippa promised her mother, hugging her tight. She felt sad to be going, and she hates goodbyes. “Manang Doray, ikaw na po ang bahala kay Mom!”

“Naku, Pippa, anak, huwag kang mag-aalala at ako ang bahala dito sa Mommy mo. Mag-iingat ka ha.” Manang Doray told Pippa, hugging her also.

Ethan just looked on, waiting patiently, straddling the motorcycle as Pippa said goodbye to everyone. He felt sad too that she is leaving. But what can he do? Pippa needs to go back to work. At the back of his mind, he wonders how one he just met became a vital part of his life! But he does not want to dwell on it now.

“Ethan, ikaw na ang bahalang maghatid kay Pippa sa pier ha. Ingat kayong dalawa” Mommy  Marianne repeated.

“Don’t worry, Tita Marianne. I’ll take care of Pippa until she boards the ferry.” Ethan said. “Pippa, here’s your helmet!”

Ethan handed Pippa her helmet and then fastened his. Pippa looked at Ethan waiting for her. He does looked like Matthew Goode, in that pose, she mused, remembering the actor as Mandy Moore’s love interest, Ben, in the movie Chasing Liberty!

Pippa securely fastened her helmet. Ethan double-checked if it is was too snug and adjusted it a bit so that Pippa is more comfortable. Pippa climbed on the motorcycle, straddling also, behind Ethan, her backpack, strapped on her shoulders.

“Hold on to my waist, Pippa so you don’t fall. Put your arms around me.” Ethan instructed her. “By the way, have you ridden a motorbike before?” He asked as an afterthought.

“No. This is my first time kaya huwag mong masyadong bilisan. Lalo na diyan sa may curve dahil baka mamaya, wala ka na palang passenger.” Pippa said, half-excited, half-afraid of the motorcycle ride with Ethan.”But I do trust you, Ethan.” Then patted him in the back.

“You should!” Ethan said, smiling. “I used to race in my dirt bike! Don’t worry, I will be extra careful!”

“Really, you did! Good thing you are still in one piece!” She teased!

“Hahahaha, Pippa Montenegro, oh, ye of little faith!” Ethan said smiling. “We will get going, Tita Marianne, Manang Doray. I’ll be back as soon as I deposited Pippa to her ferry. Baka you want me to get something in town also para maka-save na kayo ng trip.”

“Wala naman, Ethan. We have everything in the house. Thanks a lot.” Marianne said. “Dumaan ka dito pagkabalik mo and have breakfast.”

“Sa town na lang po, Tita Marianne,” Ethan said. “Thank you. Pippa and I will get going.”

“Bye Mom, I love you!” Pippa said, then wave at her Mom as Ethan started the motorcycle and they were on their way.

Pippa held on to Ethan. It felt very nice to do so. Ethan also liked Pippa’s arms around him as he navigated the winding road going to Poblacion! There was not much traffic, the morning air cool, and the view is very nice, with the side of tbe mountain on the right, and the view of the sea and beyond at the left.

“So, how are you doing, Pip?” Ethan asked. “Okay ka lang ba, diyan?”

“Oh, very good! I didn’t realize that riding a motorcycle is very nice.” Pippa replied. She likes the feel of the wind on her face and the closeness of hers and Ethan’s body. “Exciting, actually!”

“See! I’m right! If you hadn’t had to cut your vacation short, I could take you for a spin. We could go up the dirt road to the mountain and to the waterfalls there in a motorbike, not this one, though. But I do know a German who lives at the next beach who has a dirt bike we can borrow.”

“Sayang nga!  Kung hindi lang kailangan kong bumalik, I think I would like that. Maybe, you will still be here when I manage  to return, and then we can try it.” Pippa said, at the same time, the thought of not seeing Ethan again was making her feel blue.

“Sure! Let me know. Maybe I ought to buy another mobile phone so we can keep in touch.” Ethan remarked lightly.

“You don’t have one?” Pippa asked surprise. She does not know of anyone who hasn’t have one or who does not need a mobile phone.

“Oh, I had one, but I lost it in Thailand. Then I realized I like not having one.” Ethan replied as they approached the town. “There was no need. I just check my e-mail from time to time. If Mum needs to get in touch with me, she can just e-mail me or call Tita Marianne.”

“Maybe, it would be better if you get one. I can’t imagine, not having one.” Pippa said. “Kailangan mo rin iyon kapag may emergency. Anyway, when you manage to get one, just ask Mom for my number.”

“Okay, I will.” Ethan said as he parked the motorcycle in front of a restaurant by the pier. He removed his helmet and helped Pippa removed hers.

They walked towards the ticket office. They found out that the first boat will leave not at 6 o’clock in the morning as Pippa thought, but at 8 o’clock due to a mechanical problem. They bought Pippa’s ticket.

“Hmmm, now, I have two hours to kill here!” Pippa remarked. “Di bale, okay lang since my boss told me to report for work na lang tomorrow. Iyon nga lang, for sure, lahat ng traffic all the way to Quezon City, I will encounter. Oh well, that is life!”

“Now, that you have time, let’s eat breakfast.” Ethan suggested. “I’m starving. The morning air made me hungry. I want a cup of coffee too!”

Pippa and Ethan walked to the restaurant where Ethan parked the motorcycle. Ethan chose the table which was the best view of the harbor. He seated Pippa, then gestured for the waiter to give them a menu.

“What would you like to have, Pippa?” Ethan asked as he perused the menu the waiter handed to them.

“Hmmm, I think I will have an American breakfast and a cup of coffee.” Pippa replied. “Tapos, maybe fresh ripe mango shake if they have it. How about you?”

“I think I’ll have the ‘continental’ breakfast. And the same drinks as yours.” Ethan replied and then called on the waiter and told him of their order.

“So when you left England, you left your job too?” Pippa asked as they were waiting for their orders.

“Well, I was working for myself before I decided to pack my bags and left as far away as a I could. I might pick up work again. I can even do it from here or in Manila.” Ethan said. “I’m not in a hurry, though.”

“So, just in case you find yourself in Manila one day, give me a call, okay.” Pippa remarked offhand, Ethan giving her the opening for it.

“Sure, I will. Actually, I have been thinking of going there.” Ethan said. “I just passed by it on the way here. There is also a guy from Belgium I need to meet for possible work here. Just want to check my options.”

“Really! Please let me know when you are coming. Where will you be staying pala?” Pippa asked. She wanted to offer her place to Ethan but he might have other plans.

“I’m thinking of staying in a hotel in Manila, the capital, or in Makati.” Ethan replied.

“No, no, don’t do that. I have a guest room. You can just stay with me.” Pippa offered Ethan. ” I can take you where you would meet your friend and places you want to go. Hindi ka sanay sa Metro Manila. It would be easier if I take you around.”

“Well, are you sure it is okay for you to do so, Pip? You will be busy with your new programme, isn’t it?” Ethan asked. He likes what Pippa is offering, but she might be very busy with work and he does not want to add to her burden, as much as he likes the idea of staying with her and being with her most of the time. Actually, his plan to go to Manila was very loose, but now that Pippa is going back there, he decided to push through with it.

“No worries, Ethan. I would be happy too. Besides, I will not be working all the time and saka by the time naman that you are in Manila, okay na ang schedule ko. It would be nice also to touch base rin with you.”

“Thanks a lot, Pippa, if it is no trouble, then I will take you up on that offer.” Ethan said, feeling happier now that he will see Pippa again. “I really would like that. Maybe, we can also go out in the evenings.”

“Sure, that would be okay. I can take you to the nice new restaurants in Quezon City and Pasig too.” Pippa said.

“It’s a date then!” Ethan said, giving Pippa a brilliant smile.

Pippa and Ethan’s breakfast arrived soon after. They chatted while eating, making plans of what they can do pa if Ethan finally find himself in Manila. An hour so, after, they were about to leave the restaurant when someone called Ethan.

“Ethan!” A tall, beautiful foreigner called Ethan from the opposite direction. “Fancy seeing you here, so early. How have you been? I have not seen you down the beach since the other day. I missed you!” The beautiful girl about Pippa’s age told Ethan. Then she saw Pippa. “Oh, hello there! I’m Madeline, a friend of Ethan’s.” However, she was looking at Ethan as if she wants to be more than friends with him.

Before Pippa can react, Ethan pulled her closer to him. He put his arm on her shoulder as well. “Madeline, this is a special friend of mine, Pippa Montenegro. Pippa, this is Madeline Bertrand from France. She is staying at one of your guest cottages down at the beach.”

“I’m please to meet you Madeline. I hope you are enjoying your stay at The Cove!” Pippa said with a friendly smile, at the same time, wondering about Ethan’s action.

“Oh, you are Belle’s cousin!” Madeline said. “ I usually chat with Belle when I stay at the bar for a drink or two. I never realized that you and Ethan knew each other that well.” She remarked, looking at how close Pippa and Ethan were, with Ethan toying with Pippa’s hair. “I’ll get going then. Nice to meet you too.”

They waved at Madeline, who joined another foreigner girl carrying grocery bags. They can see her talking earnestly to her and then both of them looked surreptitiously at Ethan and Pippa.

“Hmmm and what was that, Mr. Ethan Benitez Bowman!” Pippa asked with an arched eyebrow, looking at Ethan.

“Pippa, sorry for that and thank you for playing along. She wouldn’t get the hint that I’m not interested.” Ethan said.

“Oh, an admirer, huh, Clark Kent!?” Pippa teased.

“Pippa naman, I thought I look like Matthew Goode and not Henry Cavill!” He teased back.

“Hahahaha, and the flattery goes to the head.” Pippa said laughing.

They both laughed.

“Halika na nga, bumalik na tayo doon sa may ferry. Malapit na palang umalis.” Pippa said.

They walked back to where the ferry was docked and saw people boarding.

“O paano, Ethan, good bye for now! Thanks for the ride and the breakfast. Basta, let me know if you will go to Manila ha.” Pippa said, feeling a bit sad. She then gave Ethan  a big hug. “And do not leave the country without saying goodbye, okay?”

“I will, promise. And I will not leave the Philippines without you knowing.” Ethan said, gazing at Pippa intently, then he cupped her face. “I’ll miss you a lot Pippa.” Then he lowered his lips to hers and gave her a light kiss.

Pippa just stared at Ethan, her lips still tingling from the quick kiss. Then said softly, “I’ll miss you a lot too.”

They shared a meaningful smile. Ethan touched Pippa’s cheek gently. “Take care. See you soon.”

Pippa gave him a smile that lit up her whole face. Then said, “You too,” before boarding the ferry that would take her away from Mindoro again.

Ethan stayed at the pier, until Pippa’s ferry pulled out of the harbor and started sailing towards the direction of Batangas. He feels very sad and lonely already!

Pippa on the other hand, was wishing that she could just get off the boat then and stay longer in Mindoro. She stared at the receding harbor, until it was just a a small dot, feeling like she had left her heart in Puerto Galera.

 

Note: Second Valentine treat! 🙂 ❤ ❤  For those who are following Pippa and Ethan’s journey as well! ❤ ❤ ❤

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Unexpected Love – Chapter 8

Chapter 8

“Pippa, Ethan, mabuti nandiyan na kayo! Ipapasundo ko na nga sana kayo kay Doray.” Mommy Marianne told Pippa and Ethan when she saw them entered the house through the back veranda. She also noticed the two of them holding hands. Pippa was also wearing Ethan’s shirt it seemed since he was shirtless! Pippa realized that she forgot to return Ethan’s shirt when she noticed where her mother was looking.

“Oh, here’s your shirt, Ethan!” Pippa said, removing the shirt and handing it to him. “Hindi na ako nilalamig. Thank you very much again.”

“No worries, Pippa.” Ethan said, putting back the shirt that Pippa wore. “Sorry for taking so long, Tita Marianne. Pippa and I forgot the time. It was so very nice out there at the beach.”

“Oo nga, Mom. Sorry po. Sana po tinawagan ninyo na lang kami sa phone. I brought my phone with me naman.” Pippa said.

“Okay lang, Ethan, Pippa. Hindi pa rin naman ready ang food earlier. You are just in time,” Marianne assured her daughter and their guest. “Let’s eat na. I cooked your favorite, Pippa, adobo sa gata. Paborito rin iyan ni Ethan! Doray halika na, sumabay ka na sa amin!”

“Sige po Ate Marianne, mamaya na lang ako. Busog pa ako. Nag-merienda ako kaninang medyo hapon na.” Manang Doray said from the doorway leading to the kitchen. “Magpapahangin lang muna ako sa beach.”

“O siya, sige, bahala ka. Mauuna na kami.” Marianne said.

“Wow, thank you for this, Mom!” Pippa said happily as her mother passed her the serving dish with the mouthwatering adobo. Pippa got a portion then passed the dish to Ethan.

“Oopps, sorry Ethan!”

“It is okay, Pippa.”

The two of them shared a smile since Pippa almost dropped the dish and Ethan caught it, their hands touching.

“Pippa anak, tumawag pala ulit si Tristan, hindi na raw talaga siya makakabalik this evening kasi kailangan nilang i-monitor iyong patients nila, lalo na iyong driver.” Marianne said as they were eating. “He will try na lang daw to be back tomorrow afternoon.”

“Oh, okay po. Sayang naman. Pupuntahan pa naman namin sana si Belle sa resort ngayong gabi. Di bale, bukas na lang po.” Pippa said. “If ever naman na nakabalik si Tris this evening, for sure he is very tired na. Iyon nga lang, sayang he missed your adobo.”

“Oo nga.” Mommy Marianne said. “Di bale, padadalhan ko na lang siya kay Doray sa clinic sa susunod na mamalengke siya sa bayan. By the way, Ethan, inilagay na ni Doray sa cottage iyong laundry mo. Ako na ang nagtanggal sa dryer.” She told Ethan. Mommy Marianne has inkling that Ethan completely forgot about his laundry.

“Oh, golly! I forgot all about that, Tita Marianne!” Ethan said. “Thank you very much for doing it for me. Please send my thanks also to Manang Doray.”

“Okay lang iyon, Ethan. Maliit na bagay lang. Saka, wala naman akong ginagawa kanina habang nasa beach kayo ni Pippa.” Marianne said. “Hindi  pa masyadong malakas ang alon? Usually, maalon talaga since mahangin, bukod pa sa medyo malamig, around this time of the year.”

“Hindi naman, Mom. Super nice nga eh. Iyon nga lang, malamig! Mabuti pinahiram ako ni Ethan ng t-shirt niya. Nakalimutan ko na malamig nga pala kapag ganitong panahon when I followed him there,” Pippa said. “Ito kasing si Ethan, for sure, sanay na sanay sa lamig. Ako, as you know, madaling lamigin.”

“Our weather here now is like late spring lang sa England.” Ethan smiled. “This can’t even be considered cold in my side of the world!”

The three of them then chatted about the seasons and best way to adapt to them, especially, winter. Pippa told her mother and Ethan that if she will go to Europe it has to be during spring or summertime, since parang depressing ang winter. Ethan said spring and summer are the best seasons talaga pero winter has its beauty too. Their conversation shifted to traveling and other things, mostly it was Ethan and Pippa alternately talking, while Mommy Marianne just listened to them, marvelling at the ease her daughter and Ethan were chatting, parang matagal na silang magkakilala.

When they have finished eating, Pippa and Ethan told Mommy Marianne that they will just take care of tidying up and putting the leftover in the fridge, also doing the dishes and cleaning the kitchen.

“Mom, kami na po ang bahala ni Ethan. Do you want coffee or a drink sa veranda? Parang masyado pang maaga to go to sleep. I’m not into watching TV rin naman while I’m here.” Pippa said. “Coke po?”

“Hmmm, that’s a good idea! Tara doon na lang natin ituloy ang kwentuhan natin.” Marianne said. “How about you Ethan? Would you like to join Pippa and I?”

“Hmmmm, sure, it is okay to do so, Tita Marianne? Baka you and Pippa would like to have a mother and daughter time?” Ethan asked, hesitating. He does not want to overstay his welcome. Besides, he knew it that it is not very often that Pippa is home like this.

“No, we had chatted na this afternoon, di ba Mom? I told Mom na about Martin!” Pippa said smiling. Remembering her conversation with her mom earlier! “If you don’t have anything else to do, we can just chat there.”

“Okay. I would like to. Coffee, Pip?” Ethan asked, shortening her name further and she kinda like it. So, Pippa told her Mum about Martin! He mused.

“Sure, thanks a lot, Ethan.” Pippa said with a big smile.

Hearing their conversation, Mommy Marianne also thought, so Pippa had told Ethan about Martin! Did Ethan tell her daughter too what caused him to ran as far away as possible from home? She had a feeling that he did. It looks like her daughter has really found her prince among the frogs, but does not know it yet! Besides, with the way things are, their happy ever after would probably be not as easy as in the fairy tale, so to speak. Maybe, that’s better as their relationship, if ever, will be stronger and more long lasting, and meaningful.

Marianne went to the veranda ahead of her daughter and Ethan. They tidied up the kitchen and then followed Pippa’s mom there after 15 minutes or so, with Ethan carrying the tray with two cups of steaming hot coffee and a cold Coke in can for Marianne, as well as some leftover rice cakes from lunch for the three of them.

“Here you go, Mom.” Pippa said. She was about to say something more when her phone rang. She thought at first that it’s Martin again. Ethan thought so too. But when Pippa checked her phone’s screen, she saw that it’s her boss, Tina Peralta. Pippa excused herself, mouthing to Ethan and her mother that it’s her boss calling.

“Good evening Mam Tina! Napatawag po kayo?” Pippa asked, moving towards the end of the veranda.

“Pippa, good evening! Pasensya na for the call ha. I know I have allowed you to go on vacation leave, pero I’m afraid I need to recall that or you need to postpone it for several days since I really need you in Manila ASAP sana!” Tina told Pippa, apologetically. “Pwede ka bang  bumalik muna tomorrow?”

“Bakit, what happened po?” Pippa said. Her immediate superior is very nice and very accommodating as always when she asked for the leave earlier. She immediately granted her leave even if it was on  a short notice. She didn’t pry also when she told her that she needed time to deal with something. Tina just told Pippa that if there is anything she could do to help, don’t hesitate to ask. Pippa appreciated that very much. Now it seems, her boss needs her. She know that her boss will not interrupt her vacation if it is not really very important and urgent.

“Last Friday kasi I got a call from our boss that the new program you will produce will be launched earlier than we were told in our last production meeting. Noong nagpaalam ka sa akin for your several days of vacation, I thought kakayanin naman. But after our phone call and until this evening when I double checked the timeline, I realized na baka kapusin tayo sa oras. Lalo na at our business head wants us to do a presentation the day after tomorrow for possible sponsorships.” Tina explained, and she sounded stress out.

“I needed you sana Pippa for several days, just to set up everything, do the presentation, and then after we distributed the materials to the writers and researchers, then you can take your vacation na. Kailangan lang nating makapagsimula muna with everything”

“I made some pre-work na po on our new program.” Pippa told her boss. “Saka I produced a presentation na rin. I did it noong patapos na iyong isang program that we produced. Kailangan ko na lang i-finalize. Sayang I didn’t bring my laptop with me here. Biglaan kasi ag uwi ko.”

“Okay, that’s very good! So, please come back for two to three days, then after you have set it up, you can take your vacation na. Would that be okay?” Tina asked anxiously.

“Yes, Ma’am Tina, okay lang. I’m just here at our place in Mindoro. Okay nga rin po if I will return to work na, since I have seen my Mom na.” Pippa assured her boss. Maybe, work will take her mind of what happened to her and Martin, put things in perspective, now that she is in a better frame of mind! At the same time, maybe, she and Ethan need some distance. Yes, she enjoys his company, but maybe, she should stick to her resolve not to have another relationship so soon. Besides, she knows Ethan has to deal with some unresolved issues too. She is starting to like Ethan too much! She is also a bit afraid to love again so soon.

“That would be even better! I’ll see you at the office the day after tomorrow then? Around 9AM.” Tina asked. She feels better now that Pippa is coming back.

“Sure po! Kapag nakasakay po ako sa unang boat bukas, then I can go directly to the office after lunch.” Pippa offered. She likes traveling early mornings to avoid the rush and the traffic along the way, going back to Quezon City.

“Naku, magpahinga ka na muna bukas. Mahaba-haba rin ang biyahe mo. Okay lang naman the next day, specially now that you have cancelled your vacation.” Tina said.

Pippa said goodbye to her boss, then returned to her mother and Ethan.

“Mom, I need to cut short my vacation, or rather I need to cancel my vacation! That was my boss, kailangan na niya ako sa work. Sabi niya mapapaaga ang launching noong bago namin show na ako rin ang producer.” Pippa explained.

“Ganoon ba anak! Too bad naman, ngayon pa nga lang kita makakasama ng mas matagal-tagal.” Marianne said, a bit disppointed at the development, but she knows her job is very important to her daughter. “Di bale, next time, habaan mo na lang ang vacation ha.”

“Promise, Mom, I will!” Pippa said.

“When are you leaving Pippa?” Ethan asked. He felt a tinge of sadness at Pippa’s news. In such a short time, Pippa became a very important part of his life. He really enjoys her company.

“First thing in the morning! May mga kailangan pa kasi akong tapusin bukas pagdating ko regarding that project. I think mas maaga ang ferry sa bayan, doon na lang ako sasakay kaysa diyan sa katabi nating beach.” Pippa said. Since her Dad died she had an aversion too at taking small boats to Batangas and Mindoro.

“I can take you there in Manong Ben’s motorcycle.” Ethan offered. “Hindi pa yata siya nakakabalik from Calapan.”

“Yes, tumawag nga si Ben kanina, bukas na raw siya babalik dito.” Marianne said. “Better nga Ethan if you could take Pippa to the pier. Please get the motorcycle key na lang sa lalagyan ng mga susi sa kitchen.”

“Thanks Tita Marianne. No worries. I will deliver Pippa to her waiting ferry, safe and sound.” He said smiling.

“Oo naman hijo. Alam ko namang maingat kang mag-drive.” Marianne said. “Tungkol pala saan iyong bago mong show Pippa?”

“It’s a magazine show, Mom.”  Pippa asked. “Quite interesting actually!”

‘Talaga. Good luck anak. Hihintayin ko na lang sa TV, anak. I’m sure you will do another very good one.”

“Thanks Mom!” Pippa said, hugging her mother.

“O siya, sige, I will say good night to the two of you. Medyo inaantok na ako. Hindi ako masyadong nakatulog sa Calapan. Namahay yata ako.” Mommy Marianne said. “Ethan, good night! Pippa wake me up before you leave ha.”

“Yes, Mom! Good night!” Pippa said, kissing her mother good night.

“Good night, Tita Marianne! Have a good sleep.” Ethan said.

Marianne went inside the house leaving Ethan and Pippa at the veranda, drinking their coffee and enjoying the sudden silence. Ethan was the one who broke it. “So, you will be back to Manila for good, Pippa? “ Ethan asked. “I mean, there is no chance that you will be back here soon?”

“Im not sure, Ethan! I want to stay more but I don’t think I will be able to concentrate, anyway, with our airing date being advanced. Saka, maybe, I should talk to Martin and close that chapter of my life completely para hindi na rin siya tawag ng tawag.” Pippa said. “Ikaw, what are your plans?”

“Well, I’m thinking of staying here another month, then heading home to find answers. Tapos, I might come back here and see if I can set up something more permanent.” Ethan replied, the idea getting more and more attractive. He can work anywhere, anyway, as long as there is an internet connection.

“What do you mean? Stay here in Mindoro for good?” Pippa asked, surprised.

“Here in Mindoro, or in Manila, or anywhere in the Philippines. I like it here so, might as well see if I could live here” Ethan said, shrugging. The truth is, Ethan does not need to work at all. He can ‘retire’ for life, at 32, as he had made enough money in the dot com boom and with a game program he made and sold to a company especializing in online games.

“Really, that would be great!” Pippa said, smiling, really liking the idea of seeing more of Ethan, and more importantly, he will be in same country!

Ethan smiled, gazing at Pippa. “Let’s see, Pip! Who knows, what tomorrow will bring.” He finished obliquely.

“So true! Que sera, sera!” Pippa said. “O paano, sleep na tayo at maaga pa ang gising natin bukas.”

“Okay. I’ll see you at 5AM.” Ethan said, smiling “Good night, Pip! Pleasant dreams!”

“Good night, Ethan.” Pippa replied. “Sweet dreams. I hope the nightmare is gone. But if you can’t sleep, just knock on my door. I’ll keep you company.” Pippa said, despite her resolve to keep a little distance from Ethan.

“Pippa, that’s so sweet of you.Thank you very much.” Ethan said, giving Pippa a big smile. “I think I will be okay.”

With a final wave, Ethan disappeared into the night to go to his cottage. Pippa locked up and went to bed soon after packing her things. She slept well that night. It was the same with Ethan, as the dreaded nightmare didn’t come. In fact, he dreamt of Pippa!

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Unexpected Love – Chapter 7

Chapter 7

“Ethan?” Pippa called from the entrance of the cottage where Ethan staying. She forgot to ask him whether they will meet there or the beach. Since the cottage is on the way, she decided to check there first. The cottage looks empty. The door was not locked so she took a peek inside. She called again and when she got no reply she walked back to the path beside the main house that leads to the beach.

Pippa passed by her mother’s beautifully-tended garden, then walked downwards until she reached a wooden gate wtih an archway adorned by all kinds of bougainvilleas. The view she can see from there is picture-perfect! She wished she had a camera with her. Then she remembered her iPhone. She put down the picnic basket she was carrying and took several pictures.

She saw Ethan right away after she opened the gate. He was lying on a beach mat, wearing only a pair of board shorts, his t-shirt discarded on the mat. He was also wearing shades while glued to the book he was reading. He looked like he was posing for the summer edition of a fashion magazine!

“Hi Ethan! I brought snacks.” Pippa said by way of a greeting, trying to control her physical reaction to Ethan’s male beauty.

Ethan looked at Pippa from his shades and admired the picture she presents. Pippa is wearing a thin halter maxi dress over her swimsuit. She looks very lovely. The dress showed in silhouette her long shapely legs and curves.

“Hi Pippa, great that you made it!” Ethan said with a big smile, sitting up, then inviting Pippa to sit with him on the mat.

Pippa handed Ethan a cold can of Coke, then opened one for herself too. “Sandwich? Manang Doray prepared it.”

“Oh, yes please! I’m famished. Thanks a million, Pippa.” Ethan said, smiling.

They ate while chatting about books that they have read, movies that they have seen, and places they have been to.

“So, when did you exactly leave home?” Pippa asked after a while.

“I left England about six months ago. I have been to Bali and stayed for a while in Ubod, then I moved on to Vietnam and Cambodia, took a trip to Singapore too, crossed to Malaysia, then off to Beijing, Macau, Hongkong, then moved around Thailand a bit then here in Puerto Galera more than a month ago. I stopped traveling na since I felt like I have found a home here.”

“Wow, so many different places in six months!” Pippa exclaimed, wondering if there was more then seeing those places that compelled Ethan to move around that much in such a short time. “But I’m glad you feel at home here at Puerto Galera.”

“Yes, I needed to keep myself occupied so I traveled a lot. I moved when I got restless.” Ethan simply said, sipping his Coke and looking at the horizon. “I needed to forget too.” He whispered, almost to himself.

“What did you say, Ethan?” Pippa asked, puzzled and she was not sure if she heard correctly.

“Wala, Pippa.” Ethan said, then change the direction of the conversation. “If you don’t have this book yet, you can have them after I finish. Iwan ko na lang sa iyo, and my other books na baka you would like to read din. I can just carry my Kindle around.”

“Oh, are you planning on leaving soon? I thought you will stay pa?” Pippa asked, surprised at the same time, for some reason she can’t explain, she feels sad and lost already with just the thought of Ethan leaving.

“Not in the near future! Wala pa naman akong plans. I like it here, really. I found peace. Pero siguro para makumpleto iyon, I need to go back to England and confront the past.” Ethan said all of a sudden.

Pippa was quiet. She wanted to ask Ethan for details. But maybe, it is better to let him tell her about it. But she wants to comfort him somehow without really prying into his affairs, so she decided to say something to him.

“Ethan, all I know is what you told me that Claudia died seven months ago. I don’t know what happened and what it is that is haunting you, and you don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to or if you are not ready to share it, pero all I can say is sometimes, the only way we can move on with our lives is to accept that things had happened, maybe for a reason we can accept, maybe not, or maybe we will never know at all. Hindi na rin natin kasi maibabalik ang mga nangyari na. The only way to go is to live in the present and move towards the future.” Pippa said eloquently. “Have a closure of some sort, and move on!”

“I realized that too, Pippa. But thank you for telling me too, put things in perspective somehow.” Ethan said, looking at Pippa.”I want to lay the past to rest and at some point I have to do it. I think I needed to go back to where it all started when I’m ready. Baka enough na ang six months of running away from it!”

“Minsan, masakit tanggapin when you lost a loved one, pero there’s nothing we can do about it eh. It is beyond our control. Wala naman tayong magagawa kundi tanggapin ang mga pangyayari and live with it.” Pippa continued. “It happened when I lost my Dad suddenly five years ago. He was so young to be taken away from Mom and I, but we can’t do anything about it.”

“Tita Marianne told me that your father died at sea while saving some kids.” Ethan said, realizing that Pippa have known lost too and at a younger age. He can’t imagine losing his Mum or Dad like that, so abruptly.

“Yes, after that, there was a time that I didn’t want to see Puerto Galera at all. I didn’t want to take the boat to go here since it reminded me of my lost.” Pippa said. “But eventually, you learned how to accept that the person you love is gone and it is better to just remember the wonderful memories you had with them.”

“Pippa, but how do you move on when you not only lost someone dear to you but that her passing left a lot of unanswered questions.” Ethan suddenly said, deciding to tell Pippa more of what happened to Claudia.

“What do you mean, Ethan?” Pippa asked looking at Ethan closely. She can see his pain. He was tapping on the empty can of Coke he was holding, unconsciously.

“Pippa, Claudia killed herself and our baby.” Ethan finally said. “She committed suicide. I found out after she died that she was pregnant.”

“What? Why?” Pippa was so surprised at Ethan’s revelation. “How far along was she when she died?”

“She was two months pregnant. On why did she do it, that I don’t know Pippa. She didn’t leave a suicide note. So I don’t have answers. I have been searching for those before I left. I was going crazy so I decided to just travel as far away from England as I could.” Ethan said pensively. “Did I drive her to it like her parents are accusing me!”

“Why would they believe that?” Pippa asked. Yes, she had known Ethan for a short time, but she feels like he is not capable of that. Why would he get affected this way if he was?

“I don’t know. But I have been thinking lately, that maybe, I have not search enough for answers.” Ethan said. “One of these days, I will go and see what I could find so I can finally move on. I have reasons to move on. Sorry, that is all I can tell for now.”

“Thank you for telling me Ethan and that is the spirit!” Pippa said, touching Ethan’s arm to comfort him. “I’m just here if you need someone to talk to.”

“Thank you, Pippa.” Ethan said, feeling lighter now by just talking to Pippa about it. She was able to do what his Mum and Ally were not able to do, him talking about his feelings. He  just wished he can also tell Pippa about the guilt that has been eating him. Maybe, Claudia’s parents were right, he was also to blame for Claudia’s suicide to a certain extent!

Pippa and Ethan both stared at the horizon and watched the setting sun in companionable silence. Both were comforted by the other’s presence as they got lost in their own thoughts.

“By the way, I forgot to mention earlier, Tris called before I left the house.” Pippa said after a while. “He said all the passengers are safe, may mga injury pero hindi naman grabe. Iyong sa driver lang ang medyo grabe pero out of danger na rin siya.”

“That’s good to know.” Ethan said. “So makakabalik na si Tristan sa house later?”

“Hindi pa siya sure eh!” Pippa replied. “Sayang nga. Matutuwa pa naman ng husto si Belle kapag nakita si Tristan. Feeling ko may crush ang pinsan ko sa kanya.”

Ethan smiled and then remarked,  “I think he likes you, though!”

“Ha, what do you mean?” Pippa asked, looking at Ethan closely. “Tris like me, as in like?”

“Errrr, yes, kasi I also noticed the way he was looking at you when you are not looking.” Ethan replied. “He likes you, you know a lot.”

“Naku, Ethan, for me, Tris is like the big brother I haven’t had. Growing up, siya ang protector namin ni Belle.” Pippa said. “Hanggang doon lang talaga ang feelings ko sa kanya. Saka, I’m off relationship muna.”

“Off relationship? And why is that, if I may ask?” Ethan said. “You know, I’m also  just here if you want to unburden yourself. Sometimes, it is not so bad when you talk about it with someone.”

“I have a question for you, sige, since you are a guy.” Pippa said, deciding to find answers of her own. Questions that she can’t ask her mother. “Why do guys cheat? Why can’t they stay faithful? I mean, if they are not happy in a relationship, then bow out before they hook up with another person. And last question, do you guys think of sex all the time? Go to the first girl who is willing to give it to you?”

“Hmmm, I think I now have an idea what happened with that Martin guy. Sorry, I overheard you calling him by name when you answered the phone last night.” Ethan said, then thinking a bit before he replied.

“Number one, Pippa, you will not cheat if you really love the other person and you are committed to that relationship. You will not even think about it. My personal view is that if you are not happy in your relationship, then make a clean break before you hook up with someone else. It is a coward’s way to try to have both worlds. Not all guys cheat. Many don’t. Some are just born cads.”

Then he continues, “Well as for the last question, well yes, men were set up like that or wired that way by nature. We react physically when we see a beautiful woman that attracts us very, very much, for instance. But it does not mean you will act on it all the time. We are humans and not animals. And there is such thing as control and reason. Also, if you really love a person, you will wait until that other person is ready, and not pressure her into doing something she is not ready.”

“Wow, you really hit things right in the eye. Are sure you are computer geek and not a psychologist.” Pippa said, smiling. “Thanks a lot Ethan.”

“Hahaha, I wish I am. Hindi sana, I’m done with my issues na.” Ethan said giving Pippa an answering smile. He really feels so happy being with her, chatting like this. He forgot all his troubles.

“Thank you, talaga, Ethan.” Pippa said. “And fair is fair, since you told me a bit about Claudia. Yes, Martin was my boyfriend who cheated on me. I caught him with another girl the other night. Come to think of it, the other night lang pala iyon, parang a lifetime ago na. So after I saw what I saw, I broke up with him and packed my bags. And here I am. He had been calling and texting me asking for my forgiveness dahil wala lang raw iyong nakita ko, would you believe!”

“Oh Pippa, someday, you will find a guy who deserves your love. I gathered also that he was pressuring you to go to bed with him?” Ethan asked directly.

“Yes, he did try to talk me into it, several times. But to be honest, Ethan, it is not that I’m waiting for a ring on my finger before making love to someone I love very much. It is just that, I was not ready, I was not so sure I want to do it with him.” Pippa replied honestly. “I didn’t feel with him the feelings I imagine I will feel when we kiss, that sort thing, you know.”

“Then don’t do it, when you are not ready Pippa. You should make love with the guy you love when you are sure and not because you want to please him or is feeling pressured. It should be something beautiful, a physical expression of your love for each other.” Ethan said, gathering that Pippa is innocent in the ways of love even if she had a boyfriend already.“You will know when you are ready. And you are talking about passion, which you apparently didn’t feel with him. With the right person, you will. And yes, for guys it could be less than that, but after a while, meaningless sex is just like that, meaningless.”

“Hmmm, about knowing when the time comes, that’s similar to what Mom told me earlier, when I asked her how would I know when I find the one for me.” Pippa smiled.  “She said I will know. Same meaning, different context, huh!”

“I think your Mum is right.” Ethan replied. “The mysteries of love and how it moves us, difficult to fathom, isn’t it?”

“So true. Thank you again, Ethan for listening.” Pippa said, giving Ethan a smile that lit up her beautiful face.

“You’re welcome, Pippa, anytime. Thank you very much as well for your insights and for listening.” Ethan gave Pippa a big smile too.

Pippa and Ethan gazed at each other, a silent communion and communication between them. It was broken when there was a gush of strong wind and Pippa shivered.

“Pippa, you are cold again.” Ethan remarked. “Come, put this on.” He said, giving Pippa his shirt which was lying on the mat beside him. “I’m good.”

“Thanks, Ethan. Yes, I’m a bit cold. But it is nice out here.” Pippa said, putting Ethan’s shirt which smelled a bit of him, mixed with the soap he uses.

Ethan also moved a little bit, then put his arms around Pippa to keep her warm fast. Pippa let him as it felt nice, very nice. They stayed liked that for a while, chatting about all kinds of stuffs and enjoying the beautiful view before them until it got very dark to see anything. Only then, they returned to the house, hand in hand.

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Unexpected Love – Chapter 5

Chapter 5

Marianne Montenegro arrived home around lunch with Manang Doray and Dr. Tristan Mendoza. She and Manang Doray saw Tristan in town when they stopped to buy supplies for the house. When Tristan  found out that they just commuted from Calapan, he offered to take them home. Marianne initially declined as Tristan might be busy with the clinic. Tristan insisted.

Marianne told him that Pippa is home. Tristan said taking them home means he can say hello to Pippa too, like hitting two birds with one stone. Marianne then suggested that he stays overnight if he is free, so that he and Pippa have more time to visit as the childhood friends haven’t seen each other for quite sometime. Tristan said he will since he and his clinic partner, Dr. Joshua Carlos are not that busy at the moment. If there is an emergency he can just come back, he told Pippa’s mother.

The clinic was started by Marianne’s husband Dr. Tomas Montenegro and Tristan’s father, Dr. Benjamin Mendoza more than 20 years ago, with Marianne as their nurse. When Doc Tommy died five years ago, Doc Benjie as he is fondly called by the residents of the town, continued on with the clinic with Marianne.

However, when Marianne said she wanted to retire from the clinic three years ago to concentrate on running the resort, Doc Benjie said it was about time he does as well and pass the torch to the young ones. Tristan took over and after a year, his friend, and a classmate at the University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, Joshua joined him. They hired two new nurses, and a medical technologist, and they have been running the practice since.

Tristan is several years older than Pippa but since their parents are friends, they too became very good friends since they were kids. He, Pippa and Belle were inseparable when they were growing up. He was like a big brother to Belle and Pippa, growing up, as the cousins were both only child.

“Tristan, you can have the room you occupied the last time you were here.” Marianne said when they were in the living room. “Maghahanda lang kami ni Doray ng lunch natin. For sure, walang naluto si Pippa since walang masyadong laman ang refrigerator kahapon kaya nga kami naghinto sa bayan.”

“Sige po, Tita Marianne, I will just bring my bag up, then help you.” Tristan said. “Nasaan po kaya si Pippa, parang sobrang tahimik nitong bahay.”

“Naku, baka natutulog pa iyon. Minsan ganyan ang batang iyan. Gawa nga siguro ng nature ng work niya.” Marianne replied.

“Sige po, hintayin na lang natin siyang magising. Aakyat na po ako, Tita Marianne.” Tristan said.

Tristan opened the room he occupied before, the one beside Pippa’s, and got the surprised of his life when he saw two people sleeping in the bed.

“Pippa!”…. Tristan exclaimed before he could stop himself.

Pippa was jolted out of sleep for the second time. But this time because someone called her name quite loudly. She opened her eyes and checked her surroundings. She realized that she feel asleep in the room where Ethan is staying and that during the course of the night, she and Ethan ended up in the middle of the bed. Ethan’s arms were around her, and she was half-lying on Ethan’s chest.

“Tris! What are you doing here?” Pippa asked, suddenly very much awake, surprised to see her childhood friend inside the room.

Beside Pippa, Ethan stirred, opened his eyes and realizing that there is another person in the room, he too sat up, shaking off sleep. He noticed too that he and Pippa ended up sleeping very close to each other. They must had sought each other’s body’s warmth while sleeping.

“Good morning to you Tristan!” Ethan greeted the doctor calmly. He had met Tristan through Tita Marianne when he accompanied her to town one time. They never got to talk much, but he seemed an okay guy, apparently well-loved by the people around here, and the girls around are crushing on him and the other doctor, according to Belle. He also noticed that Belle’s tone of voice changes when she speaks of Tristan. He thinks she has feelings for the doctor.

“Good morning, Pippa, Ethan! I’m sorry for barging in and disturbing your sleep. I didn’t know the room is occupied.” Tristan said, trying to regain his composure and be nonchalant at what he thought he saw. Pippa and Ethan are both grown-ups and single, even if the last time he talked to Marianne she mentioned that Pippa has a boyfriend in Manila. He felt like he was kicked in the gut when he saw Pippa in bed with another guy.

“This was the room I used the last time I was here, ilalagay ko lang sana ang bag ko. I’ll get going then. Excuse me. Oh by the way, Pippa, your mom is downstairs, making lunch. Nakita ko kasi sila sa bayan kanina.” He added.

“Oh, Mom is back then. Okay, I will go with you and say hello.” Pippa said, getting out of the bed, wanting to talk to Tristan alone and explain what he saw. “Ethan, I’ll see you downstairs.” She told Ethan, suddenly turning shy and a bit self-conscious in the light of day.

Ethan gazed at Pippa, intently, gauging her mood, but unable to.“Okay, Pippa, I’ll see you and thank you for keeping me company this morning when I had a nightmare. I really appreciate it. I guessed we just fell asleep while watching The Avengers.” He said  not only for Pippa’s, but for Tristan’s benefits. He does not want him to think negatively of Pippa. He knows that Pippa and him sleeping like that, even if nothing happened, is not the norm where they are.

Pippa got what Ethan was trying to convey, and she appreciated it very much. “Oo nga, last thing I remembered was The Avengers battling the Chitauri in New York.” She said smiling, then looked at him and mouthed a silent thanks. “See you downstairs. Halika na, Tris.”  She gave Ethan one last glance and a sweet smile, then closed the door with Tristan in tow.

“Pippa….”

“Tris….”

Pippa and Tristan spoke at the same time while they were in the corridor in between the rooms. They looked at each other and shared an uncomfortable smile, both unsure on how to proceed.

“You go ahead, please, Pippa.” Tristan finally said.

“No, you go, please. What was it you want to say to me?” Pippa insisted.

Tristan took a deep breath and said his piece. “Pippa, I just want you to know that whatever I saw in that room stays there. It is yours and Ethan’s business.”

Tristan wants to reassure Pippa, the childhood friend whom he would like to look at him as more than a friend, somehow, wanting her to know that he is not passing judgment or drawing a conclusion at what he saw, or that he would tell her mother about it.

“Thank you, Tristan. But the thing is, that is what I wanted to talk to you about. While what you said is correct, that is mine and Ethan’s business, nothing happened in there beyond us sharing a bed. We ended up sleeping while watching DVDs, which I think now, you have left behind in that room. On how I ended up in that room instead of mine, was like what Ethan said, he had a nightmare. I just kept him company.”

“Pippa, hindi mo naman kailangang mag-explain to me, pero thank you pa rin for telling me. I hope you understand that I am not passing judgment on you and him earlier. I believe in the adage ‘live and let live’.” Tristan assured Pippa.

“I know that you didn’t. We have been friends long enough for me to know that.” Pippa said with a smile. “Thank you. Please go ahead pala, I’ll just take a quick shower and then I will be down too.”

Pippa went down 30 minutes after. When she went to the kitchen, she saw Tristan having coffee with Ethan and her mom.

“Mom!!!!” Pippa said with a big smile, then went to her mother and hug her tight while giving her a big kiss on the cheek. “I super missed you! Mabuti nandito ka na. Naaayos ang car ng maaga?”

“Pippa, anak! Naku, mabuti naman at nauwi ka.” Marianne said. She is happy to see her only daughter. She also knows that there must be a very compelling reason why she is home all of a sudden. Hindi nga nito nakuhang tumawag sa kanya na uuwi pala siya. Normally, Pippa calls days before she visits to let her know.

“Hindi pa nagagawa ang kotse. Iniwan na lang namin si Manong Ben sa Calapan. Nag-commute lang kami ni Doray kasi nga gusto ko na ring makauwi at makita ka. Nag-worry din ako na mag-isa ka rito. Mabuti pala at sinamahan ka nitong si Ethan.”

Mommy Marianne continued, unaware of what happened upstairs. “Ito namang si Tristan, nakita namin ni Doray habang nasa bayan kami. Nag-offer na ihatid kami. Para nga rin daw magkita kayo.”

While she was chatting, Ethan stood up and poured Pippa a cup of coffee. Pippa thanked him with a big smile. The scene did not escape Tristan’s notice. He is only human and he was wondering how come the two of them were already very close when apparently, they just met yesterday, according to Tita Marianne.

“Sandali na lang itong lunch, mga anak.” Tita Marianne said, cutting into Tristan’s thought.

“Errr, Tita Marianne, I’ll go to the cottage for a while to take a shower.” Ethan said putting down his cup.

“O sige, pero bumalik ka agad, Ethan at ng habang mainit pa itong sinigang, makain na natin.” Marianne told her friend’s son. Ethan is like a son to her also, even in the short time she had known him, parang si Tristan.

“I will. I’ll be back in a jiffy.” Ethan said with a smile. “I’ll see you in a while, Pippa. Tristan, Manang Doray, see you.” Then he was off through the back veranda.

“Bakasyon mo ba ngayon Pippa? Mabuti pinayagan ka ng boss mo.” Mommy Marianne asked her daughter.

“It’s a long story Mom. But yes, I can stay for several days. Katatapos rin lang naman noong isa kong project.” Pippa replied obliquely. While she had decided now that she wanted to tell her mom the whole sorry story, she wanted to do it when they are alone.

“Mabuti naman. I missed you.” Marianne said. “Medyo matagal-tagal ka ring hindi nauwi. Kapag kami lang ni Doray dito, kakalog-kalog itong bahay. Mabuti nga, kapag libre itong si Tristan, dumadalaw. Nadagdagan pa nitong si Ethan. Nabanggit ba niya sa iyo na anak siya ni Virgie?”

“Yes, Mom. Nagkakwentuhan na kami kahapon. We also went down to the resort last night. Nag-hello kay Belle and spent some time by the beach.” Pippa replied.

“I’m glad na nagkasundo kayo kaagad.” Marianne said. “Doray, pakihanda na nga ang mesa.” She told Manang Doray who was then making a pitcher of juice.

“Okay, Ate Marianne.” Manang Doray replied. Then she proceeded to set the table. Pippa offered to help, but Manang Doray told her to just chat with her mom as she really misses her company.

“Bayaan mo Tita Marianne, I will also visit more often, kapag libre ako.” Tristan promised.

“Oo nga, anak. Isama mo si Josh nang makapag-beach naman iyang kaibigan mo. Mula nang dumating dito, aba eh iisa lang beses ko palang yatang nakitang nag-relax.”

“Sige po, sasabihan ko. Ewan ko nga po doon sa mamang iyon. Lumipat nga ng Mindoro dahil ayaw na raw niya ang buhay-hospital sa Maynila.  Mas gusto niya raw na mas relax ang work environment niya, but the thing is, workaholic naman kahit nandito.”

“Talaga, Tris! Sabihan mo yang si Josh na hinay-hinay lang.” Pippa added.

The three of them talked about the clinic and then Pippa’s job while waiting for Ethan to return so they can eat.

When Ethan returned, he saw Pippa talking animatedly about something, with matching gestures, which made her mother laughed. She was so full of life and she looked like, at that moment, without worries. She also looks more beautiful today in his eyes.

Ethan’s gaze then shifted to Tristan and was surprised at what he saw. He was looking at Pippa with tenderness. So, that is the way the wind is blowing, huh! The doc has feelings for Pippa, which she seemed very unaware of!  For some reason he can’t explain, finding that Tristan likes Pippa that way, bothered him.

“O heto na pala si Ethan. Kain na tayo.” Marianne said, when she saw Ethan standing by the back door.

Pippa looked at Ethan and her heart beat faster at what she saw. Ethan looked very nice in his faded jeans and t-shirt, freshly shaven and his hair still wet for the shower. He was also giving her a bone melting smile again. “Pippa and I’s first real meal, since yesterday!” He remarked.

“The two of you didn’t eat?” Marianne asked surprised.

“Mom, itong si Ethan, feeling hunger strike kasi wala kayo ni Manang Doray, peanut butter sandwich lang ang dinner kagabi. Hayun, mabuti na lang may nakita akong eggs, cheese at bacon sa ref. Nagluto ako ng omelette.” Pippa said.

“Tita Marianne, you know me and the kitchen, we are not exactly friends.” Ethan said with a self-deprecating smile. “Mabuti na lang, Pippa saved me. That was the best omelette ever!”

“Sus bola, gutom ka lang kasi.” Pippa teased. “Compared to the peanut butter sandwich you were eating, mas masarap talaga iyon.”

“Hindi ah! Honest, it was really delicious.” Ethan said, grinning engagingly. “Crossed my heart!”

“Sige na nga. Thank you.” Pippa said with a smile.

“O siya, siya, kayong dalawa, tama na iyan. Kain na tayo. Doray, halika na. Huwag sabihing hindi ka pa sasabay sa amin.” Marianne said. She ushered everyone to the dining table. She noticed the easy camaraderie between her daughter and Ethan. They seemed to have really gotten to be fast friends in a very short time.

Ethan pulled the chair for Pippa. They shared a smile. Pippa thanked him. Ethan sat beside her, then started serving her food. A sight that didn’t escape Marianne Montenegro’s notice, nor Tristan’s.

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Unexpected Love – Chapter 4

Chapter 4

Ethan saw Pippa shivered. They have been sitting by the beach for more than two hours already. The wind has gotten stronger and the night cooler. He and Pippa have nursed two bottles each of the drink of their choice while chatting about anything and everything under the sun, except about very personal stuffs. As if by silent agreement, they avoided talking about love and relationships that night.

“Pippa, are you cold?” Ethan asked solicitously.

“Yes, a little bit. Medyo lumamig na ang gabi.” Pippa said, trying to rub her arms to keep warm.

Ethan rubbed his hands together, creating fiction, making them warm, then he gestured for Pippa to put hers in between his. Pippa did and she her cold hands felt relief. She felt warmer.

“Better?” Ethan asked, enclosing her hands in his, totally. “I used to do this when I felt very chilled after I was out walking in the cold.”

Pippa nodded. She likes the feel of their hands together. Pippa, she scolded herself, no relationships for now, remember. “Thank you, Ethan. I don’t think I will survive living in a country with winter. Madali akong lamigin.”

“That’s what some of my mother’s family also said when they visited us for Christmas. But they survived. It is a matter of putting on the right clothes, I guess.” Ethan said. “Humas do adapt and adjust to the environment thy found themselves in.”

“Hmmm, you have a point. Hindi ko pa rin naman kasi na-try. When I went to New York before for a study grant, hindi naman natapat na winter.” Pippa said. “I think we better head home.”

“I guess, we should.” Ethan agreed. He stood up and brought back the empty bottles to Belle. He told her that he and Pippa are heading back to the main house. Pippa also waved and said good night at her cousin. She felt very sleepy by then.

Pippa and Ethan walked back to the house, holding hands like they did on the way to the bar, debating about languages, on whether it is easier to learn multiple languages as a child or when one is older. The conversation shifted to Filipinos and the talent for learning languages, even accents. Ethan also told Pippa of having to use hand gestures when he was in a place where English was not spoken at all. Pippa laughed at Ethan’s anecdotes. Before the two of them realized, they were already at the veranda of the main house.

“Ethan, thanks a lot for the company this evening.” Pippa said. “You’ve helped me. I’m sorry if I can’t speak about it yet.”

“I had fun too, Pippa. You are a very fun person to be with. Thank you very much as well for the company. I had a lovely evening.” Ethan said, looking at Pippa intently. Then as if hesitating a bit, then making up his mind, he spoke again. “I have a proposal, and don’t get me wrong please, would you allow me to sleep in the main house this evening? I will feel better that you are not alone in this big house. Hindi rin naman ako makakatulog sa cottage with you alone in here.”

Pippa, thought about what Ethan is proposing, and while she is used to being alone, she does not want to be completely alone that evening too.

“Okay, you may stay here!” Pippa said. “Wait, I will check if the guest room beside my room is okay. Baka kasi magulo.”

“Thanks Pippa! I’ll go up with you then.” Ethan said. The truth is he does not want to go back also to his lonely cottage.

They checked the room and finding it in order, Pippa went to her room. She dug into her cabinet and found one of her oversized t-shirts. She knocked back at Ethan’s room.“Ethan, here, you can borrow one of my old t-shirts for sleeping.” Pippa handed Ethan the t-shirt.

“Thanks a lot Pippa. Now I can definitely take a shower before heading to sleep. Tita Marianne has put a complete set of toiletries in the bathroom.” Ethan said, smiling, while getting the t-shirt from Pippa. “I already checked.”

“That’s Mom! May pagka-OC!” Pippa said smiling. “I’ll say good night then, Ethan. Sweet dreams.”

“To you too, Pippa! Good night!” Ethan said giving Pippa a bright smile.

Pippa and Ethan both went to their respective rooms, preparing for bed. Pippa felt better that Ethan was just in the next room. Ethan was happy that he was still, somehow, with Pippa.

Several hours later, Pippa was jolted from sleep as she heard someone shouting. She listened and realized it was coming from the room Ethan was occupying.  She grabbed the letter opener from her study table instinctively, and proceeded to check what was it all about.

“Claudia!!! No please, Claudia!!! Why did you do this? Why?….Why?….” Pippa heard Ethan saying over and over when she opened the door. His body was tangled in the bed sheet and he kept shaking his head. She deduced then that Ethan was having a nightmare.

“Ethan!!! Ethan, wake up! You are just dreaming. Wake up, please Ethan!” Pippa said urgently, going near Ethan but not touching him. She was afraid to make an overt move as she does not know how Ethan will react if she touch him while he is still in the throes of that bad dream. After her several tries, he opened his eyes.

“Pippa?” Ethan was startled to see Pippa by his bed. “What are you doing here? May emergency ba?” He also checked the time and discovered that it was three o’clock in the morning.

“Ethan, are you okay? You were having a nightmare, I think. Sumisigaw ka kasi kanina.” Pippa said. “You were shouting a name, Claudia?”

“Oh” was all Ethan managed to say. So he was back having the same nightmare! It has not happened since he moved to Puerto Galera a month ago. Maybe, meeting Pippa brought it back to the surface since he is attracted to her and that he thought about relationships again.

“I haven’t had this since after I moved here.” Ethan remarked.

“You mean, you’ve had this nightmare before? Sobrang balisa ka kaya kanina. I almost panic kasi parang sobrang sama ng panaginip mo! May I ask who is Claudia? Is there any way I could help.” Pippa asked, one after the other. She did get worried seeing Ethan like that, pain contorting his face as he called on Claudia.

Ethan, at that time, almost tell Pippa that not only he was having a bad dream, it was like reliving all over again something that had happened seven months ago. He thought he was dealing with it well, until the recurrence of the nightmare this evening.

“Claudia was my girlfriend.” Ethan finally said softly. Since Pippa heard him shouting her name and because she is already a friend to him in the short time he had known her, she ought to know what he could tell her at that moment. “She died seven months ago. I’m sorry, Pippa if that is all I can say for now. As you have probably sensed, there are unresolved issues in my life. But if I will tell it to anyone, it would be you. I have known you in less than 24 hours but it does not feel that way. Parang matagal na tayong magkakilala.”

Pippa was touched at what Ethan said. She feels the same and she understands. “Thank you for telling me Ethan. And I completely understand. Basta, nandito lang ako if you want to talk. I also have stuffs to deal with and I appreciate you not prying about it last night.”

“Thank you very much, Pippa. I appreciate it.” Ethan said. “Ditto! If you feel like you need someone to talk to, I’m just here.”

“No worries. Thank you also. Diyan ka muna, I will get you a glass of water ha.” Pippa offered. “Or would you like a glass of warm milk. It was what Mom used to give me when I had a bad dream.” She added smiling.

“Pippa, I can do it.” Ethan objected, getting out of the bed, wearing the t-shirt Pippa loaned him and his boxers shorts.

“I’ll do it, Ethan. Iinom din ako ng water.” Pippa said. “Dito ka na lang. What would you like pala, water, milk or something stronger? I think I can find something at the bar by the veranda.”

“Oh, nothing like that. Just water, please.” Ethan said. “Many thanks, Pippa.”

Pippa returned several minutes later with a glass of water which she handed to Ethan.

“Thanks a million, Pippa.” Ethan said again smiling at her. Then he drank the water in one gulp.

“You’re welcome. Sige, I will go back to sleep na.” Pippa said, getting Ethan’s empty glass also with the intention of putting it back to the kitchen before heading back to bed. Sleep will be difficult now, but it is still  very early, even by Puerto Galera standards to get up and walk around. “Good night, Ethan. I hope you will sleep better.”

Pippa was almost at the door of the room when Ethan called her back. The thought of being alone in the room was getting to him. He doubts if he can’t sleep with the nightmare in his mind.

“Pippa, would it be okay if you keep me company?” Ethan asked from the bed. “I doubt if I could sleep soon. That is, if it is okay with you. I promise to be a gentleman.” He finished, wanting to assure Pippa that he has no other motives, just wanting her company.

Pippa looked at Ethan and his pleading expression. She also saw a vulnerability in him which she thinks he normally hides from the outside world. In the short time she had known him, she feels comfortable with him. For reasons she can’t fathom yet, she trusts him.

“Okay.” Pippa said, smiling.

“Thank you, Pippa!” Ethan said, happy. He also moved to give Pippa a space on the bed. “I promise, I’ll be good. Gentleman’s honour! And in my Mum’s name!”

Pippa took a deep breath when she approached the bed. She got a bit self-conscious. This will be the first time she will share a bed with a guy, no matter how innocent it is. She has never been alone with Martin like this, nor was she in a situation like this with her boyfriend while in college. But she believes Ethan.

“Okay, and beside, kapag nagloko ka, I still have my letter opener pa pala in my pocket.” Pippa teased him, fishing out the letter opener and showing it to Ethan. “Akala ko kasi someone was attacking you kanina.”

“Feel free to use that on me, Pippa if overstep the line.” Ethan assured her. “And thank you for your concern, Pippa. Pero be careful also when you hear a noise like that in the middle of the night kapag mag-isa ka lang. Di ba you told me you live alone? Your safety is more important.”

“Yes, I will. I’m normally cautious, and brave like that too. I can’t not check. But I get what you are saying.” Pippa, then sat on the bed, and like Ethan made herself comfortable by leaning against the headboard. “You know, we can watch a movie!” Pippa suggested. “Meron yatang mga DVD by the TV there!”

“Okay, we can do that.” Ethan agreed, then settled more comfortably into the bed.

Pippa found a DVD of The Avengers among the DVDs stacked by the TV and she loaded it. “Hmmm, I wonder who left the DVDs here. Hindi naman mahilig si Mom sa ganyang mga movie, lalo naman si Manang Doray. Meron pa ngang The Hobbit and Thor. We can watch either of that after this one, kung hindi ka pa antok.” Pippa said.

“Baka, it was left behind by one of your mother’s guests.” Ethan remarked. “Have you seen these movies before?”

“Yes, I did, but I wouldn’t mind seeing them again. I enjoyed watching those.” Pippa said as she too got under the blanket as the room becomes chilly. There was a respectable distance between her and Ethan as well as, by accident, a pillow in the middle.

They watched in companionable silence. In some instances, both were conscious of each other’s presence and that they were alone in a big bed in the middle of the night, but they tried very hard to get the thought out of their heads. By the time The Avengers were battling the Chitauri and Loki in New York, they were both nodding their heads off, until they fell into deep sleep. During the course of the night, or early morning, both of them unconsciously ended up in the middle of the bed.

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