Posts Tagged Pippa Montenegro

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 12

Chapter 12

Ethan boarded the ferry at the Puerto Galera Pier bright and early Friday morning. Unlike when Pippa took it four days ago, the ferry is going to sail to Batangas on schedule this day. He decided to sit out in the open area of the ferry as he always like looking at the beautiful view of Puerto Galera from the sea. The first time he saw it like that as his ferry approached, seems like ages ago, he fell in love with the place. Besides, in a cool morning like this, it is nice to sit out there.

Several minutes after Ethan settled down on his seat at the back of the rows of seats in that part of the boat, two giggling girls approached him.

“Hello there! Are these seats taken?” The girl wearing very short shorts asked him, pointing to the seats beside his.

Ethan looked up from the book he was about to read while waiting for the ferry to get moving. “No, the seats are free.” Ethan politely said.

“Thank you!” The two girls plopped themselves down beside him. Then they started to chat him up. Ethan knew then what they were up to, and he was not interested. He answered them politely in the beginning, but when they started speaking in Filipino about him, not so nicely, objectifyng him, he stood up.

“Pwedeng dadaan lang ako. Parang mas gusto ko na lang doon sa kabilang side nitong boat.” He said politely, but pointedly.

The two girls blushed to the roots of their dyed hair, realizing that he understood all the words they have spoken in Filipino. They mumbled a sorry to him. They were the ones who offered to move as far away from him as they could.

Ethan heaved a sigh of relief. He never thought of himself as a particularly good looking guy. But what the girls did is not new to him. It has happened several times while he is here, also in Thailand. He decided to send Pippa an SMS while waiting, informing her that he is already in the ferry and is about to leave Puerto Galera. She replied promptly, wishing him a good trip and that she will be waiting at the bus terminal when he gets to Manila.

Ethan felt very happy, and is very much looking forward to seeing Pippa again. Even the thought of what is Claudia’s diary failed to dampen his happiness in seeing Pippa again. He is prepared with whatever he will discover in that diary. It is time for him to move on and thanks a lot to Pippa, he is on that way already!

The past three days seemed longer with no Pippa around. Even the book he was reading before she arrived in his life was not as interesting as he thought it would be. He gets distracted with the thoughts of Pippa. He just would find himself smiling, the book forgotten. He always looked forward to the evenings and their nightly phone calls. Now in several hours, he will see her. The boat started moving and Ethan watched the receding Mindoro coastlines.

Pippa, at that time was busy cleaning her apartment. She had already prepared the room where Ethan will stay. When Ally comes, then she would have to share her room. Pippa hopes it would be okay with Ethan’s sister. She only has one guest room. She was humming while she mops her living room. She hopes Ethan will like her place. She find it a bit strange that it is important to her that he does. With Martin, she didn’t care much.

It has been a very hectic three days for Pippa. She had worked for 10 hours straight, putting the final plans for the production of her new magazine show, which will be launched the following month. It is earlier than schedule, but not the two weeks time her boss was initially told last Friday. Now, they have ample time to produce episodes.

The pilot episode of Pippa’s show would be about celebrities and their beautiful vacation houses around the country. Luckily, a well-known actress and a singer agreed to have their houses in Batangas and Palawan featured in their first episode. While the third one, that of a popular teen star, they are still negotiating, but it looks like the teener and his mom will agree. Pippa and her team, together with the host of the show, the well-known blogger and beauty queen Isabela Montes, are flying to Palawan next week for it. The Batangas one will be handled by one of the segment producers, with Isabela joining the team also, before the Palawan trip.

When Pippa finished cleaning the apartment, she went to the nearby supermarket to buy supplies for the house. She was thinking of cooking steak and mashed potatoes for Ethan that evening, if he wants to stay in. Otherwise, they can just go to one of the restaurants in Teachers Village in Quezon City or in Kapitolyo in Pasig for dinner. She also had a quick brunch in a nearby restaurant.

Having done that, Pippa returned to her condo. She was about to park her car, when she caught a glimpse of Martin and Cassie going up the elevator. She checked if she felt something, hurt or whatever, with the sight she saw, but there was none. In fact, she felt relieved. She smiled. Her heart felt so much lighter now! While she knew in her heart that she never really loved Martin, she also thought that it may be different when she sees him again. Thank God, she is so totally over him, and she got a lucky escape!

Pippa grabbed her keys after taking a shower. Ethan had just sent her a message to tell her that he was in the Camp Aguinaldo area. He even said, he knew because of the huge signage at the gate. Pippa replied that she will go to the terminal in Kamuning to wait for him.

Pippa was already waiting at the entrance of the bus terminal when Ethan’s bus arrived. Since she was double parked at the side, she called Ethan to let him know where she is and the color and make of her car. Several minutes after, Ethan opened the passenger’s seat of Pippa’s red Honda City.

“Hi Pippa, so nice to see you again.” Ethan said with a huge grin, then he gave Pippa a big hug, bags and all, just so very happy to see her again.

“Hello Ethan, so happy to see you too!” Pippa replied, with an equally big grin. Let’s get moving, baka paalisin na ako rito.”

Pippa drove back to her condo unit. She parked her car at her usual spot, then she and Ethan took the elevator to her unit on the 20th floor of the building.

“Here it is, home away from home. Welcome to my place, Ethan.” Pippa said smiling at Ethan.

Ethan looked around and he likes how Pippa decorated her flat. It looks cozy and very laid back. He also noticed her bookshelf and DVD collection in the living room. “This is a very nice place, Pippa.”

“Thank you, Ethan, would you like something to drink? To eat? I’m sure you must be hungry. We can order your fast food fix?” Pippa asked as she gestured for Ethan to sit on the couch.

“Oh, just Coke, Pippa if you have. We can just eat together later.” Ethan said.

“Okay, one Coke in can coming right up.” Pippa said smiling, then went to the fridge to get Ethan’s Coke. She also put some chips and dip on the tray she brought back to the living room. “Here you go, with something to tide you over.”

“Thank you very much Pippa. You are the best!” Ethan said smiling.

Pippa sat beside Ethan on the couch. She is happy to see him in her place. She feels that he belongs here with none of the awkwardness she felt when Martin comes for his one of rare visits. Normally, they just meet each other in restaurants or if he comes picking her up, they only stayed in her place for several minutes.

“I’m glad you are finally here, Ethan.” Pippa remarked, while she drinks the coffee she made for herself.

“I’m happy to be here too, Pippa! I really, really missed you a lot.” Ethan said while drinking his Coke. “Good thing we have been ringing each other every evening.”

“I missed you a lot too. Our nightly calls helped me relieved the tiredness I was feeling at the end of each work day. Thank God, everything is in order na with work so we can relax na completely.” Pippa said. “What would you like to do later? We can stay in the house and I will cook, or we can go out to have dinner?”

“Hmmm, how about supper somewhere you like very much, a place you haven’t tried or a place you like going to a lot? That way, you don’t have to cook.” Ethan suggested. “I’m good with any cuisine. Huwag mo lang ako pakakainin ng balut.”

“Ha, you don’t eat balut?” Pippa asked, smiling.

“I’m sorry, but no. Just imagining the duck embryo inside is enough to send me to the opposite direction.”  Ethan said, smiling.

“Okay, no balut.” Pippa said. “By the way, what time will Ally arrive on Sunday?”

“I think around lunchtime.” Ethan said.

“Okay, we can just leave for the airport around 9AM. Traffic should be okay around that time since it is a Sunday.” Pippa suggested.

“Pippa, speaking of my sister, I want to tell you something.” Ethan said, then taking a deep breath, plunged in. “Ally will be bringing with her Claudia’s diary that the new tenant of our flat found  recently while having the loose boards repaired.”

“Ethan, isn’t it good news?” Pippa said. “It might shed light on why she did what she did.”

“True, I thought of that too. I’m hopeful and at the same time, dreading what is in there. But I think it is better to know. Whatever it is.” Ethan said, then gazed at Pippa meaningfully. “I’m ready to move on. Thanks to you!”

“Ha, thanks to me, Ethan?” Pippa asked surprised, at the same time, she felt her heart skipped a beat with what he said, the way he said it and the way he is gazing at her.

“Yes, despite the fact that we have known each other a short time, you have helped me deal with it. I feel like you are a kindred spirit. I feel at ease with you in such a short time.” Ethan said, then continued, “And please don’t get me wrong, as this maybe too soon for you, the truth is, I’m starting to feel something for you.”

“Ethan…..” Pippa whispered. “You mean….?” She managed to say against the loud beating of her heart.

“Yes, Pippa, I like you, very, very much. I know it is too soon as you yourself just got out of a bad relationship, but we can take it one day at a time, please.” Ethan appealed. “Just give me a chance to prove to you that not all guys are cads!”

Pippa gazed at Ethan, saw his earnestness. “Ethan, I saw Martin earlier, going to his condo with Cassie, the girl I caught him with, and I felt nothing, Ethan! I was so happy. I think I’m over him and that it was not love really. But there is a part of me that is afraid, of getting hurt again. I know you are not like him, but still, the feeling of being betrayed like that lingers.”

“That’s a perfectly normal feeling, Pippa! Just take your time.” Ethan said, putting his hand on top of Pippa’s to comfort her. “I will just be here. I’m not going anywhere. I’m actually planning to stay in the Philippines for good.”

“Thank you, Ethan.” Pippa said, then cupping his face, she said candidly, “I like you a lot too, Ethan. In such a short time, you became someone very important to me. Yes, like you, I’m starting to feel something for you. But let us take it one day at a time, please.”

“Pippa, thank you! I’m so happy to know that. Of course, we could, we would.” Ethan said, touching Pippa’s face too. “All I want is a chance with you. I know we could have something very beautiful. We can take our time. One day at a time! As long as you are willing and open, then I’m happy.”

Pippa and Ethan gazed at each other. Then as if they can’t help it, their lips met for a searing kiss. They broke apart after several long seconds, with faces flushed. They looked at each other lovingly. Ethan put his arms around Pippa and laced their fingers. Pippa put her head on Ethan’s chest, the two of them savoring the moment that wonderful Friday afternoon.

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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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