Posts Tagged Fiction
Unexpected Love – 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 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.
Unexpected Love – 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.
Unexpected Love – Chapter 3
“Martin, I already told you, we have nothing to talk about. Hindi pa ba sapat ang nasaksihan ko! I hope this would be the last time you will call. Please lang, kung may natitira ka pang respeto sa akin, leave me in peace!” Pippa calmly said.
Martin knew then that Pippa is at her most angriest. She had been like that since he had known her, the angrier she is, the more soft spoken she becomes, as if it is her way of controlling her emotions.
“But, Pippa, Honey, please listen to me. Sabi ko naman sa iyo, wala lang iyon, di ba?” Martin said, trying to convince his girlfriend of six months. “Siya naman kasi ang lapit ng lapit.”
“Wala lang iyon Martin! Sa akin, hindi.” Pippa said, trying to hold on to her temper. “There’s nothing we can say to each other that would change the situation, what I saw with my two eyes! Let us part civilly, Martin. Alalahanin na lang natin whatever it was na maganda sa relationship natin.”
“Pippa, I love you!” Martin insisted. He does love her very much in his very own way. Yes, he had strayed, but he justified it in his mind, insisting that it was nothing serious. It is still Pippa he loves.
“You should have thought of that when you went to bed with someone else.” Pippa said. “Good bye, Martin!” Then she pressed the off button of her phone. She is not expecting any calls or text anyway. Luckily, she had finished her current project and her team is just about to plan the next one.
Like a scene from the movies she had seen, and in the romance books she sometimes read, she literally had caught Martin with someone else in his condo the night before. He was with the model who starred with him in his latest commercial for a beer company. They have not seen each other much the past month as she was busy. To make it up to him, she wanted to treat him to dinner the night before, finding herself with some free time, finally as they have finished editing the episode for their last week of airing. When he was not answering her phone, she decided to go to his place since it is in the same condominium complex where she lives. She knew he was home as he texted her earlier saying that he will just stay at home because she is not free to go out with him.
Pippa pressed the bell at the door of the unit. No one replied. It was then she noticed that the door to Martin’s unit was ajar. Fearing the worst, even if it is a secure condominium, she pushed it gently. It was then that she noticed the scattered clothes all over the living room. She felt nervous, dreading what she would discover, though she knew already. When she neared the bedroom, she heard sounds coming through it. She stepped backwards in surprise and crashed into Martin’s stationary bike. She howled in pain. In the process, she accidentally kicked his mountain bike which crashed loudly to the floor. It seems it was enough for the occupants of the room to stop what they were obviously doing. Martin opened the door with just his boxers on. He was followed by Cassandra Ledesma, wearing his discarded shirt.
“Pippa…..” Martin, blurted out, so surprise to see her. “It is not what you think.” He said, trying to placate her.
“I don’t think we have anything to talk about. I already told you that there is one thing I can’t tolerate in a relationship, you being unfaithful to me!” Pippa said, looking Martin in the eyes. She refused to look at Cassandra. It takes two to do this and not just one person. For now, her concern is Martin and what he had just done to her and their relationship.
“But this is nothing! This is just a fling! She had been coming on to me since we did the commercial.” Martin insisted.
Pippa was about to say something to Martin when Cassandra beat her to it. “So wala lang din ito sa iyo! After I made you happy, more than what your girlfriend can do, as you told me earlier. What was the term you used, that she is a cold fish!” She said insultingly. “Wala namang pilitang nangyari kanina matapos nating magkita sa bar. In fact, we ended up in your place and had so much fun inside.”
“Cassie, stop.” Martin shouted. “You know that you have been sending me all these signals. What can a guy do!”
Pippa looked at the two of them. She decided then that she had given her love to the wrong person. The way she and Martin started, she thought, it was for keeps as he pursued her relentlessly until she had said yes. At that time, she felt flattered by the attention he showered her, his attentiveness, him making her the center of his world. Now, she is wondering if Martin just felt challenged so he pursued her, and when in the end he was not able to get what he wanted, at the time he wanted it, he got bored.
“I guess you two have something to sort out. I’m out of it, out of this place and out of your life, Martin! Good bye! I hope in the future, you will find a person you will truly love at hindi mo pagtataksilan!” Then Pippa walked out of the apartment, still holding her tears at bay, her head held high.
She ran back to the elevator and hoped that it would come soon. She can hear Martin calling her, telling her to wait up for him. Luckily, the elevator opened. She ran back to her condominium unit, which is a building away from Martin’s as they found that they live in the same condomiinium complex the day he invited her to dinner. Only then that she gave way to tears!
Pippa, with tears blinding her, went inside her unit, hastily packed her bags and took a taxi to Cubao where she can take a bus going to Batangas Port. She ignored the calls Martin was making. She shut down her phone and dropped it into the bottom of her bag.
“Pippa, are you alright?” Ethan called from the sliding door that leads to the veranda, jolting her back to the present and away from the painful memories of a love affair gone bad and betrayal from a person she trusted very much with her heart. The light from the kitchen illuminated his tall frame and from what she could see, he is quite concern. “You were in there so long, so I thought I would check on you.”
“I’m okay, Ethan. I just need to collect my bearings. I’m okay. I should be okay. It’s not worth it to be not okay!” Pippa said. “Sorry if I’m not making sense. Thank you for the concern, but I’m handling this.” Pippa was tempted to tell him, but stopped herself as she is not yet prepared to share what happened with anyone, even with her Mom. She just want to be here where all her happy memories were and where she feels comforted.
“It is okay, Pippa. And if you need to unburden yourself, sorry I can’t help but overhearing a bit of your phone call, just before you went out, I’m just here to listen. Sometimes, it helps.” Ethan offered, though saying that, he feels like a fraud as he was also unable to do that after what happened to Claudia.
“Thanks, Ethan!” Pippa said, grateful for the offer. But she also feels that Ethan has his own demons to fight. Ayaw na niyang dagdagan pa. “Since maaga pa and I doubt if I could sleep after the long nap I took, I think I will just walk down the next beach and help my cousin Belinda at the bar.”
“Oh, but it is dark already!” Ethan protested, thinking of the dark, probably deserted road Pippa will take to go there.
“I’ll be okay. I grew up here, remember. People knows me.” Pippa insisted.
“But do the drunk and unruly tourists you might encounter know you too? I have seen a bit of them here since I came. Come, I will walk you there. And I insist, no arguments please.” He stressed, smiling at Pippa winningly. “Come on, let me play Sir Galahad since ayaw mo ng tulong ko sa ibang bagay.”
Pippa smiled, and Ethan was happy to see her doing so, unlike the forlorn sight he saw when she was sitting alone in the dark earlier. He saw her expression before she can masked it, when he opened the door and the light from inside spilt i to where she was sitting.
“O sige na nga!” Pippa smiled.
They got a flashlight each, then walked towards the road, off to the next beach. The gate of the house by beach just led only to the beach as there was a hill separating the two places, which was a good thing as it make the Montenegro beach a bit private, so they can’t go through that direction.
Ethan held Pippa’s hand while there were walking so as to be sure that she does not trip and fall. The road could be tricky at night, base on his experience. Pippa, at first startled when he did so. Ethan, then explained about the road. She nodded and allowed him to continue holdng her hand. It has a nice feeling to it. She felt safe and cared for. They walked in companionable silence.
Several minutes later, they entered the brightly-lit bar made of native materials. It was fronting the beach, and behind it are the cottages the Montenegros are renting out to tourists. Pippa’s mother insisted on retaining the cottages made of native materials even if other places beside theirs opted to ‘modernize’ and built concrete structures, which she had said were ugly. Marianne Montenegro said, yes maintaining the native huts are more costly but they look so much better and it is in keeping with the atmosphere of the beach place.
Pippa’s cousin Belinda was busy serving quite a number of customers when they arrived. When she looked up, she noticed Pippa and her friend Ethan, walking towards her.
“Pippa! I didn’t know that you are home! Kailan pa dumating?” Belinda greeted her cousin as she gave a Caucasian guy the beer he just ordered. “Nandiyan ka rin pala, Superman!” She added with a big smile, teasing Ethan.
“Hi Belle! Kumusta, parang ang daming customer this evening! Kanina lang ako dumating.” Pippa said. “And why are you calling Ethan, Superman?”
“Pippa, don’t mind your cousin. Belle has been teasing me since I arrived.” Ethan said with a smile. “Belle, stop that na, please.” He good-naturedly pleaded.
“Hahahaha, why should I. Kasi, Pippa, di ba kamukha niya si Henry Cavill, kaya Superman ang tawag ko sa kanya.”
“Belle!…..” Ethan suddenly felt embarrassed and self-conscious with Pippa looking at him intently as if she is checking if there is really a resemblance between him and the English actor.
“Oh, hindi naman Belle. Kamukha niya kaya si Matthew Goode!” Pippa said, teasing Ethan, seeing him getting uncomfortable, she stopped. “Sorry, Ethan! Belle tama na nga, cousin.”
Seeing the humor also, and seeing that it made Pippa smiled and animated, he joined the teasing. “O sige na nga, kamukha ko silang dalawa. Gusto niyo ng autograph. Kayo talagang magpinsan.”
“Sure!” Pippa said.
The three of them laughed. Then another customer called Belle’s attention.
“Pippa, what would you like to drink, my treat! It’s the least I could do after you cooked me dinner.” Ethan asked. “We can sit at the log table by the beach. It just got vacant.”
“Oh!” Pippa looked at the direction Ethan indicated and then looked at Belle. The spot does look inviting. Maybe, she should just forget all her troubles and have fun for once that evening.
“Go Pippa, I don’t need help.” Belle said, seeing her cousin indecisive. “I can manage. Nandito naman sila Andy and Melissa.” pointing to their two employees. “Saka feeling ko, paunti na ang mga customer. Kanina mas marami. You know how it is kapag long weekend, maraming nagpupunta dito. Nasabayan pa ng peak season ng foreign tourists. Go lang, cousin, I can manage talaga.” Belinda also sensed that Pippa might be going through something. Tita Marianne has not mentioned at all that Pippa is coming home. It is not also her usual time to be home too. So, baka kailangan talagang mag-unwind ng pinsan niya.
“Okay, I will have a Tanduay Ice please.” Pippa said. “Thank you Ethan!”
“Just go and save our space. I will take care of the drinks.” Ethan said.
Pippa did as he told. She sat on the bench facing the beach. While she can’t see anymore beyond the water lapping the shore as it was very dark already, she still find the place soothing and beautiful. She feels her body relaxing, and her spirits slowly lifting up.
“Thanks Belle.” Ethan said as Belle handed him a San Mig Light and a Tanduay Ice.
“No worries, Ethan. Take care of my cousin. You, two seemed to have hit if off right away, ha!” She remarked. “If not for the fact that I know you just met her today, I would say that you’ve known each other long.”
“Well, Pippa is nice. She cooked pa nga dinner for the two of us when she saw me eating a peanut butter sandwich.” Ethan simply said. He does not want to analyze this feeling of wanting to be in Pippa’s company despite the fact that he was still reeling from the aftermath of his relationship with Claudia and the unresolved issues in his life.
Belle let it be. She has a feeling that Ethan and her cousin would be good for each other. She hopes Tristan and her will be like that to! But for so long, it is only Pippa that Tristan sees.
“Here you go!” Ethan handed Pippa her drink.
“Thank you Ethan.” Pippa said. “Nice to be out here, di ba? Nakaka-relax at nakakatanggal ng worries.” She remarked.
“Yes, that’s why stayed and no plans of moving yet.” Ethan said, then before Pippa can ask for more details, he said, “Cheers!”
“Cheers, Ethan!” Pippa said smiling. Maybe, they should just enjoy each other company and the evening, enough of all her questions. Maybe, one day, he will trusts her with his secrets, in the same manner that she will, maybe, find herself confiding in him. For a while, she got tempted earlier, but it was just for a split second.
Ethan and Pippa gazed at each other, smiled, then both reach for their drinks, and started enjoying the evening with each other, setting aside all their worries and the unresolved issues in their personal lives.
Unexpected Love – Chapter 2
It was already dark when Pippa woke up from her nap. She groped for her phone to check the time. She got up with a start when she noticed that it was already early evening! When she managed to fall asleep, her system, it seems just shut down. Her tummy grumbled. She is very hungry. She had not had any meal since the sandwich she ate at Batangas Port before she boarded the ferry to Puerto Galera.
When she went inside the room earlier, she felt hungry, but didn’t have the energy to go down again and find something to eat. She looked for some crackers in her bag, ate it and drank the rest of the Coke. Soon after, her eyes became heavy and her body just collapsed apparently, maybe because of the emotional upheaval in her life!
Pippa also noticed that she had several messages on her phone. Six from Martin, which she quickly ignored, and two from her mother. Martin also called twice! Her mother informed her that she and Manang Doray will stay overnight in Calapan as they had a problem with the car and the driver needs to have it repaired the following morning. Her mother also told her that her cousin Belinda who is managing their resort can stay in the house for the night to keep her company.
Pippa texted her mother back and told her that it is also okay if she will stay at home alone since she is used to living alone. She have been doing so since she was in college. She lives alone in her condo unit in Quezon City.
Having learned that she will be on her own, Pippa decided to get up to make herself dinner. But before she finds something to eat, she decided to take a quick shower first. Several minutes after, wearing a long, flowing summer dress, she walked barefoot towards the kitchen. She noticed a light coming from that direction. She got nervous. She was supposed to be alone at home! Pippa grabbed one of her mother’s tall vases and then proceeded to the kitchen. She stopped at the doorway and saw that it was just Ethan having dinner!
“Dito ka rin ba nakatira?” Pippa asked him, relieved that it was just him and not an intruder, at the same time, her curiousity was back.
Ethan looked at Pippa, saw the big vase she was holding and gave her a heartmelting grin. “Hi again Philippa. So, akala mo magnanakaw ako?”
Pippa looked at the vase she was holding, put it down, then walked towards the kitchen, smiling. “Or much worse! Can you blame me. I’m supposed to be alone in the house. Hindi makakauwi sina Mommy at Manang Doray. May problema raw sa car. Saka, hindi ko nga alam kung sino ka talaga. Pasalamat ka, Mom told me that you will be around.”
“Oh, that’s bad. But I’m sure Manong Ben can handle that. Tita Marianne told you about me then?” Ethan asked, curious what her mother told Pippa. “By the way, are you hungry? I can make you another peanut butter sandwich. That’s the extent of my talent in the kitchen, I’m afraid. That is why I’m here. Tita Marianne insisted that I should eat my meals here in the main house.”
“So, hindi ka pala nakatira dito sa house? Doon ka pala nag-stay sa cottage?” Pippa asked. “About dinner, I’ll see what I can make for us. Hindi naman tayo mabubusog sa peanut butter sandwiches. Halos 24 hours na ring walang laman ang tummy ko.”
Pippa opened the fridge and looked inside again. She saw some eggs, cheese and when she checked the freezer, she found several packs of bacon. “How about an omelette?”
“Sounds good!” Ethan said with a big grin. “Can I help? I can chop the onions and grate the cheese.”
“Okay. Thanks.” Pippa took six eggs from the fridge, cracked and dropped them in a big bowl. She beat the eggs after putting a pinch of salt and a dash of ground pepper into the bowl.
Pippa and Ethan worked companionably and in harmony. Several minutes after, they have a plate each of bacon and cheese omelette before them and some toasted bread. They dove into their food. Both were very hungry so they ate everything in one sitting, not really chatting in between.
“That was good and very filling. Lovely to have something in my tummy other than peanut butter.” Ethan remarked after he polished off the last of the omelette from his plate. “Thank you very much, Philippa!”
“Oh, do call me Pippa! Philippa is too long and a bit of an unusual name, especially here in Puerto Galera!” Pippa said. “And you’re welcome.”
“I will hazard a guess, Tita Marianne named you after the British novelist Philippa Gregory?” Ethan said.
“Yes, I was named after her. She is my mother’s favorite author and she was into her book when she was pregnant with me.” Pippa said as she took the plates to the sink. Ethan stood up to help, but she gestured that she will just do the dishes. “I don’t know how I ended up being Pippa, though. I guess it is because it’s a common nickname for Philippa in England, di ba?
“It’s a pretty name and it suits you. I have a Swedish friend also who named her child Philippa and uses the nickname Pippa.” Ethan said. “Do you want some coffee? That I know how to make!”
“Sure. Thanks.” Pippa said and decided to ask Ethan a bit more about him since he seems to be in a chatty mood. “What’s you last name Ethan?”
Ethan looked at Pippa and for some reason, he decided to let her know more about him. For sure, Tita Marianne will tell her anyway a little about him. He also drawn to this beautiful, poised lady for reasons he can’t explain. He just feels a connection to her, which is weird as he barely knows her. Sure her mother talked a lot about her but this is the first time they met.
“It’s Bowman. My Dad is English. My Mum is a Filipina kaya I speak Filipino rin. She taught my sister and I. She and Tita Marianne were very good friends while at university in Manila but they have lost touch when she moved to England to work as a nurse. Maybe, she mentioned my mother to you, Virginia Benitez?” He said as he put ground beans into the coffee maker and started it.
“Tita Virgie is your mother?” Pippa was surprised. She met her mother’s friend briefly in Greenbelt one evening when she accompanied her mother to where they will have dinner. Since it was their lakad, she just told her mother to text her when she is done so she can fetch her. On the way home, they also dropped Tita Virgie at The Manila Peninsula where she was staying with her husband. “I met her one evening, four years ago. Mom and her had dinner in Makati after their reunion. She told Mom and I that she has two kids, both working in London.”
“Oh, you met Mum then! Yes, she went home that time to attend her university’s grand alumni homecoming and also to have a short vacation with Dad. I think they went to Boracay. They booked it before they left London, otherwise, they would have ended up here, knowing then that your mother owns a beach resort.” Ethan said as he gave Pippa a steaming cup of coffee. “And the other kid would be my sister Allison, Ally for short. She works as a buyer for Harrods!”
“Oh really? That sounds interesting! And you, what do you do?” Pippa asked, stirring two spoonfuls of sugar into her coffee, while she noticed Ethan didn’t put any!
“I’m a Software Engineer. Geek guy extraordinaire, at your service!” Ethan said smiling. “I’m one of those computer nerds.”
Pippa smiled at that, then before she could stop herself, she blurted out, “Oh, you don’t look like one. Para ka ngang model out of the pages of GQ.” Then she blushed at what she said.
Ethan saw Pippa blushed and she is cute. He decided to put her at ease. “You should have seen me 10 years ago, when I was at university, you wouldn’t say that. I had long hair and wore grungy clothes.”
Pippa smiled, unable to imagine this handsome, clean cut guy who looks like Matthew Goode as a grungy geek. Since Ethan gave her an out, she decided to shift the conversation to another topic. “So how come a geek guy from London ended up living here at my mother’s cottage? I guess for over a month na. You are a long way from home!”
The smile disappeared from Ethan’s face. Pippa’s question jolted him back to the reason why he left England six months ago, until he ended up here in Mindoro. For a while, he forgot about it, enjoying her company. He was debating on how he could change the topic, or what answer he could give her when her phone rang.
Pippa saw Ethan’s change of expression when she asked what she thought was an innocent, getting to know you more, question. The ringing of her phone broke into the now uneasy silence between them. She checked who was calling and winced. She pressed the decline button, and was about to say something to Ethan when it rang again.
“Ethan, would you please excuse me.” Pippa said. Maybe it is better to pick up the call and have some peace.
Ethan nodded and gestured for Pippa to take the call.
“Yes, Martin!” Pippa said as she moved towards the direction of the back terrace. “I thought I made it clear to you that we have nothing to talk about….”
That was the last words that Ethan heard. So, it would seem that he is not the only one who came to this place to heal after a love affair gone bad. He doesn’t know yet what happened to Pippa’s but his was bad, very bad!
Unexpected Love – Chapter 1
Pippa dropped her bags in the living room of her family home in Puerto Galera, Mindoro. The house is unusually quiet. Her mom is definitely not home. No one is home, not even Manang Doray, their longtime kasambahay, it seems. She should have called her mother to let her know that she will be home. But calling someone, even her mother, was the farthest thing from her mind when she took the late night trip out of Manila last night. She arrived at the Batangas Port at dawn and waited for the first boat she can take to the island province where she grew up.
Pippa decided to grab a drink first before she calls her mother. She went to the kitchen, checked the refrigerator and found several cans of Coke inside. Her mother has not changed her habits. She still prefers to drink Coke from a can than in a plastic bottle.
Drink and cellphone in hand, Philippa opened the door that leads to their back veranda and garden. She was about to sit when she noticed someone doing some yard work. She walked nearer the edge of the veranda and got a better view of the guy cutting the trunk of a dead tree. He was working earnestly in chopping the trunk into smaller pieces. He didn’t notice her. He was shirtless and from where she could see, he has a very nice, toned body, as if he is used to outdoor activities. Maybe, he is someone her mom hired to do the yard work. She had done that in the past as there is no male in the Montenegro household.
“Hello there!” Pippa called from the veranda.
The guy didn’t hear her at first so she called out a second time. He looked up and Pippa almost lost her breath. Before her was the handsomest guy she had seen a long time. Not even her boyfriend, correction, ex-boyfriend now, who is a commercial model can compare the male specimen before her. She felt an instant attraction, but fought it. She is totally off relationships at the moment. She went home to lick her wounds.
Ethan looked up to check who called his attention. He saw a tall girl, wearing a purple t-shirt and maong shorts that showed endless legs, and holding a cold can of Coke he wouldn’t mind having as yard work made him thirsty, standing at the edge of the veranda. He guessed right away who she is as he had seen photos of her in the living room. He is curious to find out, though, if she is as beautiful in person as in her photos.
He approached her. “Hello to you too! You must be Pippa, I mean Philippa!”
“Yes, I’m Pippa. You know me? Do I know you?” Pippa asked, thought she know that she has not met him before. She doubted if she can’t forget a face like his. He has a movie star look in him.
“Hi I’m Ethan!” Ethan said, giving Philippa a friendly smile that showed off his dimples. “No, we haven’t met. But your mother mentioned you. Besides, there are quite a number of photos of you doon sa living room ninyo.”
“Oh! Yes, mom likes displaying those.” Pippa said, noticing that Ethan’s Filipino has a slight accent, as if he has not spoken it in a long time or is not using to speaking it. He also spoke English with a British accent. Judging by the way he look, and talks, she doubts whether he is a common utility guy that her mother hired. She would hazard a guess that he is of mixed heritage. Maybe, he is Filipino-British, judging by the accent. Maybe not! She decided to probe into his background and his connection to her mother subtly. “Have you been doing this long for my Mom? I mean doing yard work!”
“Oh, for about a month na,” Ethan said, not elaborating. The less details he gives, the better. For now, he prefers it that way. He looked at Pippa’s face and he knows she is very curious about him, what exactly is his place in her family home. He was not really expecting Pippa to go home all of a sudden. Her mom, Tita Marianne told him that her daughter has not been home in three months due to her new assignment at work and only managed short, hurried phone calls to her.
In the course of knowing Marianne Montenegro, she had told him about her only daughter who prefers to live and work in Manila than manage the family’s beach resort here in Puerto Galera. She said her daughter is beautiful and could have made a career as a fashion or a commercial model. Marianne told him that Pippa was approached by talent scouts when she was at university but she declined. She opted to finish her degree in Mass Communications and is now working as a program producer in one of the television channels in Manila.
Remembering what Marianne told him, yes, she is correct her daughter is beautiful, very beautiful with her high cheekbones, pert nose, pouty lips, long eyelashes and heart-shaped face. In fact, Pippa reminds him of Audrey Hepburn. She should be working in front of a camera and not behind it.
When Ethan didn’t say anything, Pippa decided not to ask him any more questions, no matter how curious she is. “Okay, I’ll leave you then. I need to call my mother pa. Alam mo ba kung saan siya nagpunta?”
“Tita Marianne attended a wedding sa Calapan.” Ethan said. “Kasama niya si Manang Doray, with two other ladies!”
“Tita…?” Pippa asked, curious again, though she know that the word ‘Tita’ is loosely use anyway. There is something about this guy that draws her in.
“Errr, yes! She asked me to call her that.” Ethan answered, not really saying why he is calling Pippa’s mom, Tita.
Well, Pippa thought, if getting information from this guy is like pulling a stubborn weed, she better stop. She is tired and emotionally drained! She does not have the energy, no matter how drawn she is to him. She sighed. Off relationships, remember! Why does she always end up falling for the wrong guy, and her now ex-boyfriend Martin is number one in that list! But she does want to think about it now.
“Okay, Ethan, nice meeting you. I will just text Mom, then rest. I had a long journey. Pagpapahinga na lang muna ako sa room ko.” She smiled at him, then turned to go inside the house, at the same time typing on her phone.
“Bye Philippa! See you around.” Ethan said as his gaze followed Philippa’s departing back.
It was Ethan’s turn to be curious on why Pippa is home all of a sudden. She didn’t even call or text her mom that she is coming home apparently. He can also see that she is exhausted, and if his guess is correct, she had been crying. Her eyes were still puffy, not much, but he noticed it.
However, he has enough on his plate at the moment, Ethan thought. He didn’t come to Mindoro looking for a relationship. He is there to put his life back together. He went back to chopping the tree he felled earlier. He told Tita Marianne that he will do it, instead of her hiring someone. In fact their deal, at his insistence, is that he will do all the ‘guy work’ in the house, in exchange of her letting him stay at the small cottage at the edge of the property. He likes the place as it has a nice view of the beach. In return, Marianne told him, and that she was not accepting a no, to take his meals in the main house. It is the least she could do, she stressed. Ethan said yes as he is not very well-versed in the kitchen.
Pippa texted her mother, who promptly replied that she and Manang Doray will be back around 5PM or so. They are attending the wedding of Manang Doray’s niece Marina. She told Pippa that she is one of the principal sponsors. Mommy Marianne also told Pippa that she shouldn’t be surprised to see Ethan around the place. Pippa thought of asking her who exactly Ethan is, but before she could do so, her mother told her she needed to go. Pippa decided to reserve her many questions for later. She climbed the stairs that leads to the second floor of the house, walked towards the end room, her old room, to rest all her worries away until her mother returns.