Posts Tagged Slow Burn
Slow Burn – Chapter 5
“I love you Jeremy!!!”
“You are so handsome, Jeremy Ledesma!”
Natasha should be used by this by now, but it still amazes her the kind of reaction Jeremy elicits from his legions of mostly female fans. She is very happy for him, of course, and all the success that continues to come his way. When she got to know him better, she found out that he fought hard for that success, and it was not just handed to him because of his good looks, and not solely because of his amazing talent. The hardest battle he fought was with his father who never approved of his chosen career. But he persevered and she admire him for that, very much.
“Nat, just hold on to me, okay!” Jeremy said, breaking into Natasha’s thought as he helped her out of the car and into the entrance to the venue where the awards ceremony was being held.
The screams grew louder as they walked towards the entrance after having handed Jeremy’s car key to the parking valet. Some of those waiting for Jeremy even asked if he can stand away from Natasha so they can have a solo photo of him, or a better ‘selfie’, blatantly excluding her, but he just smiled and held on to Natasha tighter, even when she tried to pull away to give in to the fans’ requests.
They made it to the entrance after several stops. There, Benedict, Jeremy’s manager was waiting for them to escort them to their seats. They made it on time. Both Jeremy and Natasha hate arriving late to an event even if it is something people somewhat let slide. Midway through the ceremony, Jeremy whispered to Natasha that he needed to go backstage to prepare for his number. He had rehearsed for that earlier as he wanted to be with Natasha before he performs.
“I’ll see you later, Nat. Or would you rather go to the backstage with me?” Jeremy asked, reluctant to leave Natasha. He remembered that she didn’t really want to go with him to this event and had to cajole her. Jeremy thought that Natasha hated being put on the spot like this. But unknown to him, Natasha had a different reason for trying to beg off, though that reason had been superseded by events.
“Go, go. I will stay here, and chat with Tita Yasmin.” Natasha assured Jeremy. They were lucky to have been seated with the wife of a well-known older singer, who happened to be a big fan of Natasha. She has not missed any of her shows. “I’ll be okay, especially with Tita Yasmin here.”
“Don’t worry, Jeremy, I’ll keep Natasha company.” Yasmin assured Jeremy. “Just go and wow us with your performance.”
“Thanks a lot, Tita Yasmin. Nat, laters!” Jeremy kissed Natasha on the cheek before going with the staff who will escort him to the backstage, a move which surprised Natasha and the kiss felt different from his usual beso! It was like the kiss they have shared in her house, something really, really different about it!
Natasha was still mulling over the kiss, her hand on her cheek when Yasmin broke into her thoughts.
“Natasha, please forgive me for asking ha, and for prying also, but are you and Jeremy together now?” Yasmin asked with a big indulgent smile. “ I hope it is okay that I am asking.”
“Together, in what way, do you mean, Tita?” Natasha was startled with the question. She does not mind Yasmin asking as she feels comfortable with her. She knew somewhat Yasmin was asking, she just want to be doubly sure. She was surprised that she sensed it too. She needed a moment to marshal her thoughts and to get use to this ‘different’ Jeremy.
“You mean, together as in the two of you in a romantic relationship!” Yasmin clarified, smiling. “I know you guys are the best of friends, and I know you are very close, very there is something different between you guys this evening, a vibe I am feeling. To be honest, I felt it before when I see the two of you, but then my husband would say that you two are just very good friends. But this evening, Jeremy is acting like a very protective boyfriend and he only had eyes for you. I’m sure I’m not the only one who noticed.”
“Errrr, we are not, you mean, boyfriend and girlfriend. We are just close friends.” Natasha said hastily, her face flushing, then asked, “Really, you think this is very different from our usual? Maybe, Jer is just happy to be attending this award and besides, he is also in the process of doing a new album and he is happiest doing that. It is his passion. He might just be very happy.”
Looking at her, Yasmin smiled. Something has changed between these two, but she thinks it is still very new, so maybe she better stop and let these two kids be. “Oh, okay! Sorry for prying, Natasha! Well, seeing the two of you, I wish you will end up together. Not only you look good together, you suit each other.”
“Thank you for that, Tita Yasmin. Jeremy is very special to me.” Natasha said simply, her heart beating faster with the thought. People are seeing something different in them! But haven’t the media been speculating about it for years now! However, this time, she knows that there is indeed something different between her and Jeremy and it all started with that kiss at her house the Friday before!
Hearing his name, Natasha looked at the stage and saw Jeremy, tapping his hand on his jeans-clad thighs as he waited for the opening notes of the song he was about to sing. He looked so handsome as he waved to the screaming crowd, with his boyish smile, a smile that reaches his beautiful, expressive brown eyes. If someone will ask Natasha what is Jeremy’s best feature is, she would readily say, his eyes. He waved once more and blew a kiss to the crowd, before his beautiful voice floated around the packed venue. There was a noticeable hush as he sang.
I’m burning for you, baby….ohhh…
Can’t you feel it, baby….
Can’t you feel it, baby….ohhhh
I hope you do…
Let us embrace the fire together….
You and I, we are meant to be….
Oh, baby, baby, baby….
Jeremy finished the last lines of the song that he wrote himself with his eyes closed, feeling every note, every words he sang. Then he gazed again at Natasha, like he was doing before the last refrain of the song. He only had eyes for her.
Natasha felt the heat of Jeremy’s stare. The lyrics of his new song and the melody sounded way different from his previous songs. This is the first time she was hearing it too. She knew that Jeremy was working on a new album, but she never had gotten around to listening to his new songs like before. Sometimes, he would for her opinion and feedback when he was composing a song. But not this time, even when they met the previous Friday at her house. Even if she was busy before with her show before, Jeremy didn’t mention this song that momentous Friday, when they could have listen to it.
Yasmin nodded, then clapped enthusiastically with the crowd. There was definitely something there! He was telling her something with that song, she thought to herself. Maybe it comes with age, or because she and his husband Jason went through something like this, she can see all the love that Jeremy Ledesma was bestowing on the sweet girl beside her. It felt like he only saw her all the time he was singing and not the huge crowd that evening. And oh boy, the lyrics of the song! It touches the heart so much. The boy is very much in love. She smiled. She hoped that these two young ones will end up together.
Several minutes later, Jeremy returned to his seat besides Natasha.
“That was beautiful, Jeremy. I’m sure it will be a hit.” Yasmin said, seeing that Natasha was still unable to say anything else! “What’s the title of that beautiful song?”
“Thank you Tita Yasmin. It’s called Slow Burn.” Jeremy smiled at the older lady, then gazed at Natasha. “How about you, Nat? Did you like it?”
“E-r-r, it is beautiful, Jeremy. I never realized that you were working on this. I’m sure it will be a hit like Tita Yasmin said.” Natasha managed to say over the fast beating of her heart. It seems like she was having a LSS with the song and as she was hearing in her head his beautiful voice, and it felt like he was singing directly to her!
The song is about a boy who fell in love with his best friend, and he was singing that love just crept by on him, like a slow burning fire, that it started a long time ago and he tried to douse it, but it kept burning and now it is consuming him. He wishes that the girl feels the same, and that she is ready to embrace the fire with him. Nat actually got self-conscious as she noticed Jeremy looking only to her as he sang. He also appeared nervous which was so unlike him. She thought only her noticed that as she knows him very well. She thought he only sought her while singing for support and comfort. But now, she instinctively knew that there was so much more with his gaze.
“I’m glad you like it. It is a recent addition to the album I am working on. I finished and recorded it over the weekend.” Jeremy said nonchalantly as he sat beside Natasha, then he dropped his bomb. “The song is for you. I wrote it for you, you know.” He whispered to Natasha, taking hold of her left hand, intertwining it with his.
Natasha whipped her head in surprise. “For me! But…? How…? Why…?” She started asking rapidly when the hosts of the awards ceremony announced Jeremy’s category.
“Shhhs, we will talk about it later.” Jeremy said with a big smile, pressing their joined hands. He didn’t mean to blurt it out like that to Nat. But he was just very happy that the song that he was working on like crazy turned out very well. He poured all his emotions in that song, hoping to send the message across to Natasha that he loves her with all of him.
Jeremy drew the loudest cheer from the fans when the nominees for that final award category was flashed on the giant LED screen inside the theatre. He was up for some stiff competition. Then the winner was announced.
“…the Best Male Pop Artist is….JEREMY LEDESMA!”
The camera zoomed in on where Jeremy was seated, and captured him hugging and then kissing Natasha on the lips before he walked towards the stage! It was not just the television cameras that captured that moment, but the cameras of the phones of his fans. It went viral soon after.
The presenters gave Jeremy his trophy and he proceeded to make a short thank you speech. Towards the end of his speech, he gazed at Natasha, then raised his trophy. “Lastly, this award is for a very special person in my life. Thank you for being there for me always and for inspiring me.”
Even if he didn’t mention her name, people looked at Natasha, speculating on the real score between her and Jeremy now. Natasha felt herself blushing from head to toe, and there seemed to be thousands of butterflies fluttering in her tummy. Oh, Jeremy! Natasha managed to whisper.
Slow Burn – Chapter 4
Jeremy put his phone down on the coffee table in the living room of his penthouse unit in an upscale condominium building in Makati after he texted Natasha. Smiling, he went to his room and took a shower. When he got out, he eagerly checked if there was a reply from her. He was a bit disappointed that there was none, but he was not surprised. He had given Natasha enough to think about and absorb for a while. He hoped though that she would see things the same way he would like to see or envision it to be, them in a romantic relationship!
He went to bed, but unable to sleep, still too keyed up with what happened that evening. He stared at the ceiling, put his right arm behind his head, using it as a pillow, then thought about his friendship with Natasha, and how it was, and how it is about to change big time once he let her know that he likes her a lot in romantic way. Stephen is right! Maybe, it is about time he does. He had tried, but unable to suppress anymore, what he feels for her. He sometimes wondered, how he lasted that long, being just friends with her!
Jeremy smiled, remembering his first meeting with Natasha. She was like a prickly cactus that evening. Later, when they became friends, she admitted to him that, that night was not one of her best nights. Then, he teased her mercilessly about it, acting out how she had been, in an exaggerated manner, and they have a good laugh about it.
Natasha told him that she was actually going through something that evening. She just saw her father with his second family. He was indifferent to her, and it hurt, especially after she had observed him being sweet to his daughter who was just a year younger than her! Yes, her father was already in relationship with his wife number two while he still married to Natasha’s mother! Added to that, one of her friends was going through a bad break up. Natasha is very cynical about love. It was one of the first things he had found out about her when they got pass their several false starts. It was the main reason why they ended up friends instead of being in a relationship. She nipped everything in the bud, when he started letting her know that he was interested in her romantically!
The moment their eyes met, that evening at the coffee shop he felt a pull, a very strong instant attraction to her. She looked so lovely, sitting there, trying to go for nonchalance after he heard her dishing the dirt on him, base solely on what she had seen on television or read in the papers and online, to Seb! She looked cute with that lovely flush on her face. He had known who she was. He had seen her as a cute theater kid, to the lovely teenager she had become in The King and I and The Sound of Music, two of his Mum’s favourite musicals.
He has not followed much of her career after that as he stopped going to the theater when his Mum died , and everything just went downhill with his father. Several years after his Mum died, they are still very much at loggerheads on most things. Sometimes, Jeremy wished his father would just let him be! How he missed his Mum, even after all these years!
While he was talking to Seb, he was very much aware of Natasha’s presence opposite him, serenely sipping her espresso. She just looked on at them, listening to them discussing the musical. Except for her initial falter when she introduced herself, she was as cool as a cucumber most of the time. He didn’t see her expression changed when he introduced himself, like what happened to people when they realized it is him, the famous singer. It was liberating that she was not in awe of his celebrity status. In fact, later on, Natasha admitted to him that one of the reasons she left early that night was because of all the fans that approached their table for photos. It was too much for her.
Of course, the following day, the shit hits the fan, so to speak, when their photo, him kissing Natasha good night on the cheek, went viral and she was paraded on social media as Jeremy Ledesma’s new flame, the latest in a string of party girls that people thought he was dating or passing his time with. She was put under intense scrutiny and worse, bashed by his so-called fans who were hiding under usernames and aliases! She was also sought after for interviews by entertainment bloggers and showbiz reporters. Both of them were, as it was the first time, a photo was taken with his ‘date’ that’s not in a bar or a party venue.
He clarified that he and Natasha had just met by accident because of their common friend, Sebastian. But it didn’t stop the talk or the bashing. At that time, they can’t reveal yet that they will be working opposite each other in a hit musical. There was a press conference scheduled to announce him joining the musical and present the other cast members several days after that meeting with Seb and Natasha. He can’t preempt that! It was what his management company’s condition to Seb and to the producer of the show. He communicated as much to Seb that evening.
Initially, his manager was against him doing the musical as it would take too much of his time, his schedule was packed. Besides, he said, theatre was not his forte. But Benedict relented when he insisted that it is something he would like to do for a long time. He wanted to prove that he was not just another pretty face who can carry a tune.
Besides, he wanted to do it also for his Mum. It has been something they both love and a big part of his happy childhood with her. He had been wanting to do theater for so long, even before he became a famous singer. His father objected as he wanted him to join the family business. He never liked Jeremy putting himself in the public limelight. He was also the main source of his Mum’s unhappiness and early death, in Jeremy’s mind! He rebelled and did the things his father hates.
The day after he and Natasha first met, when he found out about the viral photo, Jeremy called Seb to get Natasha’s number, wanting to apologize to her for what had happened. Well, that was his excuse. He actually wanted to see her again, not only because of the musical, but because he was very much attracted to her. He wanted to pursue her romantically. It was just that, due to the people asking for photos the night before, he forgot to get her number.
When Natasha, told by Seb beforehand that Jeremy will get in touch, picked up the call, her voice sounded frosty. He asked her if they could meet! She declined politely, saying that she didn’t want to add more fuel to the fire. She also told Jeremy that while she knows things like that are part and parcel of being the Jeremy Ledesma, she does not appreciate being on the spotlight in that manner. Outside of her work, she told him, she was a private person.
He apologized profusely, especially as he can’t disclose yet that they would be working together in a musical. Natasha said she understood and that it was beyond his control, anyway. People will say whatever they want to say, and see what they want to see, believe what they want to believe. After that, luckily their viral photo was overtaken by another one, that of another showbiz couple who were caught on camera kissing in a parking lot! Of course, they were still asked if there was something between them when they were presented to the media, but they both denied that there was. The of them also explained that, they met for coffee because of the musical, like Jeremy had previously said. After the press conference, he invited her for a drink, but she declined. The next time they saw each other was on the first day of their rehearsals.
Jeremy’s phone made a beeping sound in the middle of his introspection. At first, he frowned, wondering who could be messaging him in the middle of the night? Then he suddenly remembered his text message to Natasha earlier. Maybe, it’s her! Finally! He scrambled out of the bed fast, woke barefooted, in his boxers to where he had left his phone, earlier, in the living room. Good thing, he still heard the faint sound of it beeping!
Excitedly, he swiped his phone open. His excitement turned into disappointment several seconds after. It was not Natasha who sent him a message via Viber, not a text message from her after all! The message was from a commercial model he had dated for a couple of times. She even sent a photo of herself in a provocative dress, holding a drink at the watering hole in Bonifacio Global City where he met her one Saturday evening. Ashley was asking if he would like to join her and her friends, and she even promised to make it worth his while.
Jeremy wondered why did he ever date her! He ignored the message, put his phone on silent, then went back to bed. He was through doing meaningless stuff. He will just concentrate on his campaign to win Natasha.
The days that followed were busy days for Jeremy. He rehearsed for his upcoming concert, guested in a musical variety show and did a photo shoot for a magazine. He also shot a commercial for a car company, who wants to introduce their latest model to the young and hip crowd, and thought that he would be the best ambassador for their new product.
He asked the producers if Natasha, should she agree, can be one of the guests in his concert. They have said yes. He was planning to tell Natasha about it when they see each other again for the awards ceremony they will go to. They haven’t communicated with each other since ‘the kiss’, but that’s not unusual. There were times that they don’t talk for days due to their busy schedules.
Wednesday evening came! He was excited, not because he might win another award, but because he would see Natasha again. He ordered flowers for her and it was delivered just before he left his place. At first, he hesitated doing so as Natasha might ask all sorts of questions as it was outside his norm, but he wanted to do it, so he dialled the number of the florist that he uses from to time. The florist smiled when he told her what he wanted and told him, he was in luck as their new shipment had just arrived.
He texted Natasha when he was about to leave his place, and she just replied a short okay. Half an hour later, he was parked outside her building. He texted her again to tell him he was there. He drummed his fingers against the steering wheel, patiently, nervously and excitedly waiting for her!
Jeremy didn’t wait long. However, his eyes popped, and he gasped, when he caught sight of Natasha and what she was wearing, with matching stilettos! She was a vision in the dress she chose to wear that evening, a deep violet halter dress that hugged her curvaceous body, something she usually hides in leggings and loose shirts. Well, the dress did look very, very nice on her, even if it is more revealing that what she usually prefers or what he have seen her wear. He guess the dress was okay, and that was before she turned a bit to thank the receptionist!
“She can’t be seriously wearing that!” Jeremy exclaimed, sitting straighter from his slouching position, seeing Natasha’s dress was not so demure after all! Most of her upper back was bare! He got out of the car, fast, and met her halfway.
“Hi Jer!” Natasha greeted him as she would normally do. He can’t detect any change in her treatment of him. In fact, she sounded like the kiss didn’t happen and he didn’t send that text message. “Nervous? I’m sure you’ll win so don’t be!”
“Hi Nat!” Jeremy returned the greetings by kissing her cheek as he normally does, when they meet up. He knows he does not have the right but he was unable to stop himself. “Errr, Nat, is your dress okay? Are you sure, you want to attend the event in that?”
“Ha, what is wrong with my dress? You told me, not so formal,” Natasha asked, surprised, checking the dress she was wearing.
“Errr, yeah! But isn’t it too revealing?” He managed to say, treading carefully. “Do you have a shawl or something for that? What’s called, a wrap? It might also get cold in the venue!” He added hastily. Fast thinking there, Jer, he told himself!
Natasha laughed, her lilting laugh that Jeremy likes very much. “Come on, Jer, this is perfectly okay. Unless, the dress does not suit me? Hindi ba bagay?”
“No, Nat, you look very lovely, actually,” Jeremy admitted reluctantly.
“So, on with this dress! By the way, what brought this on? I have worn skimpier clothes on stage,” Natasha asked, finding Jeremy’s reaction a bit strange, after all this time!
“Oh nothing! Come let’s go.” Jeremy gave up explaining that he was feeling territorial and protective of her. He was in the past, but it was not as overt as this. He would just protect her the way he had been doing in the past.
Jeremy escorted Natasha to the car. He opened the door for her, then went to the driver’s side. He remembered the flowers. He grabbed it from the back seat before he went into the car.
“For you Nat!” Jeremy handed Natasha a beautiful bouquet, of tulips of different colors, as he slid into the driver’s seat!
“Wow, this is so lovely, Jeremy.” Natasha said, her heart beating faster. This was not the first time Jeremy gave her flowers, or gifts, but this is the first time he gave her tulips and usually too, he gives her flowers or gifts during the opening night of the show she was in! She looked at him a bit puzzled.
“Well, I just want to thank you for going with me this evening. I know you were a bit reluctant to do so.” Jeremy hastily said. He felt himself flushing and a bit nervous. He wanted to ease Natasha gently into him courting her, and suddenly he was nervous that she would see through him, with the flowers he gave her out of the blue.
“What are friends for! You know, you are very important to me and I want to share this evening with you, despite the crowd.” Nat said, looking at the tulips! “But thanks a lot for the lovely flowers.”
“Thanks a lot again, Nat.” Jeremy put his hand on top of Nat’s and gently squeezed it. “I appreciate you doing this very much. You are the best! I’m lucky to have you!”
Natasha looked at him in surprise, but she didn’t remove her hand. He smiled. She smiled back.
Jeremy drove off, humming his latest song, about a guy who can’t fight his feeling anymore for a girl he likes very much for a long time. Natasha on the other hand, stared at the vibrant tulips on her lap, touching one gently as she relived the kiss that she and Jeremy shared several days before!
Slow Burn – Chapter 3
Natasha plopped herself down her sofa after she had closed the door on Jeremy, and stayed like that for a while, still in shock at the intensity of the kiss that they have shared! She was not really expecting that their Friday night bonding would end like that, with a bang, with a big bang! It was the first time she and Jeremy had kissed like that outside of the musical they did.
She touched her lips which were still tingling, reliving the kiss in her mind. Oh my! What is happening to them? What brought it on? She does not have an idea. All she knew at that moment was that whatever she thought was extinguished several years ago had just came to life all of a sudden. The kindling actually started a fire, a slow burning one!
Jeremy Ledesma came into her life like a shooting star streaking into the night. She knew of him, but she never thought that they would cross paths. They didn’t move in the same circle. Their lifestyles, what she can gleaned from the numerous articles, features, and social media uploads on him, seemed to be the exact opposite.
By the time they met, she had several musicals and straight plays under her belt. While Jeremy, on the other hand, was already hugely popular by then and had several bestselling albums, and sold out concerts under his belt.
One evening, over cups of coffee, Seb, her friend who will direct Rent, and who also directed several other shows she had been into, told her that aside from her Mimi, they have cast the other roles, including that of Mark, Maureen, Angel, Colin and Joanne, but they were still waiting for the nod of the guy that they very much wanted to play Roger.
Natasha smiled, remembering that night. She and Seb were having coffee in a new coffee shop in a quiet, off the radar part of Quezon City as far as watering holes are concerned, when he started telling her about the casting just to divert her attention from the bad day she had.
“So, who is this all important guy that we are waiting for to play Roger?” Natasha asked desultorily, her mind was still on the bad day she had. Seb is used to her occasional moods, like this, when she sees her father, and would always cheer her up so she snaps out of it, fast.
“Oh my, Nat, it will be a casting coup if we can get him! Oh my God, I’m so excited. I wish he would finally say yes!”
“So, who is it?” Natasha asked, not really understanding Seb’s excitement. Her friend is flamboyant and openly gay and the way he was acting that evening, he didn’t sound at all like the very good theater director, who had honed his craft in New York, that he is! He was giddy.
“We are talking to Jeremy Ledesma! In fact…!”
“What? Him? Does he do theater? Can he do it? His background is not exactly theater!” Natasha asked before Seb can finished what he was about to say! She was just surprised at what he said. She thought Seb and the producers were in talk with a well-known Filipino-American actor who had been in several West End and Broadway productions before moving to the Philippines for good to be with his Filipino relatives, for Roger!
“Of course, Nat! He is the perfect Roger! All those angst and rebelliousness, being channeled on stage!” Seb pointed out. “Yes, this will be his first foray in professional theatre, but unknown to many, he was not a stranger to it. I also know that he is an easy guy to work with, professional and always on time for all his commitments.”
“Really, he is on time? With all the partying that he does?” Natasha asked, then continued, not seeing, that Seb’s expression has changed. “Really, Seb, I know he will sell tickets very fast, but do you want the notoriety that is always with Jeremy Ledesma?”
“Oh, I see, my reputation had preceded me!” A masculine voice remarked from behind Natasha, lightly.
“Jeremy, I’m glad you can make it!” Seb greeted the speaker effusively. He stood up and hugged him.
The name of the person who spoke finally sunk in, into Natasha. Oh my God! She also remembered Seb’s face changing as she was finishing what she was saying! She slowly turned and saw a handsome guy dressed casually in jeans and dark-colored t-shirt.
“Hi Seb! My apologies for the vague reply to you earlier. I thought I will be unable to get away from my other appointment at all. I decided to take the chance that you will still be here! You did mention that you will be here until 9PM.” Jeremy said amiably, smiling at Seb, not noticing that the quiet cafe was suddenly abuzz with conversation, realizing who had just came in!
Jeremy then looked at where Natasha was sitting. She knew her face was flushed, embarrassed at what she had just said. She was not normally quick to judge people! She wished then that the floor will just swallow her.
“Hi, I’m Jeremy!” He then offered his hand to her. She took it and it felt like she was hit with an electric current when their hands touched.
Natasha, was at a lost for several long minutes, just staring at the most beautiful brown eyes she had gazed upon and the handsomest face she had seen! She had met plenty of good-looking guys throughout her career, some of them visiting foreign theatre actors, and she was not moved like that. There was just something in Jeremy Ledesma that sets him apart from the rest! It was no wonder, he elicits screams everywhere he goes, with all that good looks, it is criminal, really, she mused while trying to gain her equilibrium.
“H-hello, I’m Natasha Reynoso!” She managed to say, suddenly feeling so guilty for saying those things about him when she didn’t really know him at all. Worse, he heard it! You have more manners than that, Nat!
“You were ‘Tuptim’ in the ‘King and I’, ‘Liesl’ in ‘ The Sound of Music’ and ‘little Cosette’ in Les Miserables!” Jeremy said, smiling oh charmingly at her, gazing at her intently.
“Oh, you have seen me on stage!” Natasha was surprised that he had remembered her for those roles she played many years ago.
“My Mum was a big theater fan. She used to drag me to the theater when I was a kid!” Jeremy explained, a bit self-consciously, so different from Natasha’s image of him in her head. “Nice to finally meet you, Natasha.”
“Jeremy, please have a seat. Join me and Natasha. It’s okay, she will be in the musical too.” Seb said, cutting through the private world Natasha and Jeremy were finding themselves into. “That is, if you can stay?”
“Oh sure, I don’t have any more plans for the evening.” Jeremy said, then he looked at Natasha and started saying as he was about to sit, “So, what will be your…..
He was unable to finish what he was saying and before he can sit down, a group of girls approached them, and asked for a picture with him. He obliged and right before Natasha’s eyes, he changed demeanor, got more like the Jeremy she sees in television interviews. It felt like it was what the other people at the coffee shop were waiting for, they also asked for a photo with him.
“Sorry, about that!” Jeremy sat down and looked apologetically at Natasha and Seb after the flurry of photo ops and selfies with him. His admirers went away happily.
“No worries, Jeremy. I thought this coffee shop would be quieter than the rest. That is why I chose this.” Seb remarked. “Well, it was. But since you were here, apparently not. Probably, someone already tweeted that you are here.”
“I don’t mind the fans. I owe my career to them. I’m sure you are used to them also, Natasha. But I better warn you also, that you may find yourself online and speculated on as you were with me!”
“Oh! It is okay! I don’t normally check what is being uploaded and floated on social media!” Natasha thought it would just be run of the mill kind of tweets and feeds about them, how wrong she was 24 hours later! “What could they say about me! I’m not the famous one, you are!”
Looking back to that evening, 24 hours later, she thought Jeremy was about to say something, but stopped himself. Instead, he looked at Seb and with a big grin, more like a child who received the best present from Santa, he told him his news. “Seb, I’m in, man! Thank you for this opportunity! I have been wanting to do this for so long!”
“OMG, really!” Seb shrieked happily! “I’m so happy. Now I have a complete dream cast! I should be the one thanking you, Jeremy!”
“You know I really, really wanted to do this. I can’t think of anything else since you called me about it. I just needed to talk to my management company. I’m looking forward to being a part of your production. It is a long way from our high school days and all the stage plays we were in, eh!”
“You two, know each other before? You did theater in school” Natasha asked, surprised. She was just content to be a passive listener, as she was trying to digest that Jeremy Ledesma seemed to be different from what she had heard and seen on TV.
Jeremy focused his whole attention on Natasha and with a big, boyish smile, he slung his arm around Seb’s shoulders affectionately. “This guy and me go a long way back. Didn’t he tell you? We were high school classmates, and we were both members of the theater club while in that all boys school.”
“Yes, Nat, I was about to tell you about that earlier. But Jeremy arrived.” Then at Jeremy, Seb said, “Nat is a friend too, Jeremy. I met her when were at the university. She will be Mimi to your Roger.”
“Wow, that’s great, Natasha! Before the hordes arrived, I was going to ask you what your role will be. I’m sure you will be a great Mimi and the role suits you. You have a beautiful voice. I’m so looking forward to doing the musical with you. I’m honored, actually!”
“Really!” Natasha said in a disbelieving tone, unable to help herself. Maybe he was just trying to be nice, patronizing, or being ‘showbiz’ in saying that. She can’t help it, sometimes, glib and charming guys raised her hackles! He is just too good to be true! She can’t helped being cynical at times, with all that she had seen happening to people she loves.
“Of course!” Jeremy replied, still smiling at Natasha, either he let passed her show of cynicism or he didn’t notice it at all. When they got to know each other better, Jeremy had teased her mercilessly about it. They laughed about it, but Nat knew it was not one of her shining moments.
Before Jeremy can finish what he was about to say, another group of girls approached their table and requested for a picture with him. He obliged. It was followed by another group, who were not as polite and as well-behaved as the first one. Jeremy with all the phone cameras thrust on his face, just smiled all throughout and posed, amiably.
“I better get going, Seb. I’m sorry for cutting this short. Please excuse me, Jeremy!” Natasha said, when the last group left.
She stood up, she was in a bit of a funk, and for some reason she can’t understand, a bit irritated with the gaggle of girls approaching them, or looking at Jeremy surreptitiously from their tables. Funny, how the coffee shop got full fast since he arrived! She felt like a bug under the microscope! “I’ll go ahead, Seb.” Then looking at Jeremy, she said, “Nice meeting you, Jeremy. Until the rehearsals then!”
“Nat, are you okay? Why don’t you stay a while!” Seb was surprised that Nat was leaving as they were thinking of seeing the last screening of a movie they have been both wanting to see. But of course, that was before Jeremy showed up. Seb told her later why he met her and Jeremy at the same time in that cafe. She knew that Seb wanted to ask her what was really bugging her, but Jeremy was there. Seb is also used to the cheerful, positive Natasha, and she was not that at all, that evening.
“I’m okay, Seb. I’m just tired. Just go catch up with Jeremy here! And no need to go with me out to the car. I’m parked just outside the door.” She told Seb, who was about to stand and go out with her to the parking lot. She just gave him a beso. “Let’s meet again on Saturday, okay?”
Seb nodded. “Take care, Nat! Text me when you get home.”
Jeremy, however, stood up, smiled at Natasha, then said, “Great meeting you, Natasha! See you at the rehearsals, looking forward that!”
Natasha felt his sincerity and she felt like a heel for the way she spoke about him, earlier, and the weird way she was acting that evening. Fair is fair, she acted badly. He had been nothing, but very nice and courteous to her the whole time. He acted like a normal person and not like a famous singer with an attitude and an oversize ego.
“I’m looking forward to that as well. And Jeremy, my apologies for the way I spoke earlier. I realized that I was speaking out of turn and I was being unfair as I don’t really know you, to be saying things like that. Then, I’m not good company to you and Seb also. I’m not always like this, really!” She finished with a smile.
He smiled back at her, a smile that reached his beautiful brown eyes, and for a little while, Natasha forgot where they were. It felt like it was just the two of them there, all the noises and the giggling faded in the background.
“Thank you, Natasha. I appreciate the candor. No worries. I’ll just work on you getting to know me better. Rest and relax. Works for me when I feel a bit off.”
“Thanks, Jeremy, I will just do that.” They way he was looking at her, Natasha felt herself blushing. “Good night.”
Before she can recover from that, he leaned forward and gave her a beso! “Drive carefully and see you soon.”
Someone caught that ordinary, harmless kiss on camera and posted it online, and it went viral! Suddenly, Nat’s life changed.
The beeping of her phone interrupted Natasha’s recollection of her and Jeremy’s first meeting. Who could be sending her a message in the middle of the night! She stood up, grabbed her phone where she dropped it earlier. Jeremy sent her a message.
Good night Nat! Sweet dreams! See you soon. And by the way, I’m not sorry we kissed.
“Oh my!… Natasha managed to say, with her heart hammering against her chest. How can she sleep, with that text message!
She went back to the sofa, plopped herself down again, and stared at the ceiling. What to do now? She asked herself. She felt giddy and at the same time nervous at what she feels in her gut – a big shift in hers and Jeremy’s relationship! Is she ready for it? What if…? Well, let’s see, she mused, then grinned. She just can’t help herself! Quizas, quizas, quizas! She started humming that too, from an old song that her mother likes very much.
Slow Burn – Chapter 2
“So, are you really going for it, this time?” Stephen said, nursing his second bottle of a light beer brand he favors. He had been listening to Jeremy the past hour, telling him that Natasha has plans of going to London if she makes it to the audition of a musical she would like to be part of, very much, and that they had accidentally kissed when he was leaving her place that evening. Reading between the lines, he sensed that his best friend was feeling out of sorts, confused at the moment, and that the kiss was of the earthshaking variety to unsettle his, normally cool, friend this much!
Jeremy called him two hours ago, asking if he could meet him at a low-key bar they frequent. Stephen had been best friend with Jeremy since they met in an exclusive boys school in high school, long before he got to be the most popular singer in the country, so he knew that he was not just asking for a random, laid-back meeting. They haven’t seen each other in several weeks. Their schedules do not seem to mesh. He is busy running his family’s radio stations, and Jeremy is also hard to pin down, with all his commitments, especially the past weeks. He had declined his invitation to go clubbing with him twice.
“Go for what?” Jeremy asked, looking at his oldest friend with brows knitted, taking a sip from his, now, warm bottle of beer.
“Court Natasha!” Stephen said, not mincing words. “Man, you love her for the longest time!”
“Ha! Am I that obvious to you? How about to our closest friends? Do you think Natasha knows?” Jeremy asked, though, he shouldn’t be surprised. Stephen is like a brother to him, actually. He knows him inside out. “I really thought I have buried it so deep, that I hid it so well! You know, hearing that she might be leaving the country, the feeling, it came back full force, especially after we kissed! I guess it was just there all long. See, you even know how I feel about her!”
“Man, of course, but it was just obvious to me, I guess! I know from the get go that you were very much attracted to her, from the first time you have met her, I think. Tell me if I’m wrong! I also saw how you were with her, so many times! If not for that, I would have made a move myself, and ask her out.” Stephen admitted to his best friend sheepishly. “She is a very pretty girl, inside out. I like her a lot, you know!”
It was news to Jeremy, so he looked at Stephen in surprise. They haven’t talked about Natasha like this! He had bottled up what he feels for Natasha for years, put it in the recesses of his heart and brain, since he had decided to curb his intense attraction he felt for her even on their first meeting. He opted for the friendship. It felt more important at that time. He didn’t want to ruin the rare bond that he developed with her.
“Yeah, yeah, I just said I would have. No need to be like a caveman man, me-and my-woman-kind-of-thing with your best friend! I didn’t act on it, did I?” Stephen raised both his hands in a gesture of self-defense, forestalling his friend. “Besides, with you around I don’t think I would have stood a chance! She only sees me as your dearest friend, you know!”
“What do you mean? Do you think Nat likes me too, that way?” Jeremy asked his friend, sounding hopeful!
“I think so. I believe so. Don’t you feel it, don’t you see it? She likes you, not as a famous singer that has fans screaming, mostly female ones, as soon as you enter the stage, but as you, as Jeremy Ledesma, the person. She treats you like a normal person, isn’t it? Looking in from the outside, the two of you actually look like you are in a relationship, instead of just being friends.You have this special way of treating each other that excludes other people sometimes, including me!” Stephen to stress his point, and to prod his friend to finally make his move, leaned forward and said, “Look man, why do you think people never got tired of asking you and her if you are in a relationship and what is the real score between the two of you? They must be seeing something that you two are not seeing. It has been years since you did ‘Rent’ and became friends.”
Jeremy took a gulp of his drink, tilted the whole bottle and decided to finish it off. Stephen’s words got him thinking.
“Don’t you think it will destroy our beautiful friendship if I show my interest in her, that way? If I seriously let her know that I want a romantic relationship with her?” Jeremy asked, seemingly still unsure of himself. He who had faced millions of audience in the course of his career and faced countless sharp entertainment reporters who want to be the one to unlock what makes Jeremy Ledesma tick.
“Man, if your fans can hear you now! If they can see you now! Priceless! They would have remarked ‘how the mighty had fallen!’ Haven’t seen you like this, you my cocky friend, who had face life and all it gave you with so much bravado!” Stephen said, grinning. “But seriously, Jeremy, what’s worse? You staying on the safe side with her, when you love her, then she ended up with another guy, or you going for broke and gambling on what you feel for her, and what she might be feeling for you too. Better to find out, than stay on the safe zone, the friend zone. Don’t friend-zoned yourself! If she does it, after you took the gamble, then at least you have tried.”
“I know you are right, of course. In my head, I have rationalized it countless of times.” Jeremy sighed. “But she is the best thing that had happened to me. You know that and you know my background. I don’t want to lose her if I make a move to change our current relationship. You know, upset the status quo. I’m nervous about rocking the boat, so to speak!”
“Gamble man, it’s about time you do. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Natasha is a beautiful girl, intelligent, level-headed and nice and some lucky man might snatch her away, right under your nose, if you don’t do something about it! Sometimes, we need to go for broke for some thing that is very important to us.” Stephen clapped Jeremy on the shoulder. “Think about what I said. Regret is a cold bedfellow! Take a chance. I’m off to the toilet, back in a bit!”
Jeremy signalled to the waiter for another beer for him and, seeing Stephen’s empty bottle, for him as well. While waiting for the drinks, he glanced around the room, uninterested. His eyes met that of a group of girls from the other table. They have obviously been talking about him. One of them looks familiar, then in a snap he placed her as the lead singer of a new provocative all-girl band. They also performed in the last music awards he attended, the one where Nat was unable to go with him as she was doing a show at that time. Isabel, that’s her name, came on to him a bit. He just ignored her, and pretended to be dense.
Before the girl can make her move, Jeremy decided to do some evasive actions. He grabbed the beer bottles that the waiter was putting on the table, went outside, in a small place at the back of the bar, then texted Stephen to go there. He and Stephen have an open tab at this bar and the owners just bill them every month. Francis, the owner became a friend, and he was the one who told him that he can use this space if he needs too, understanding that with his fame, he needs a space to escape to from time to time.
“What happened?” Stephen asked as soon as he saw Jeremy standing near the edge of the small garden there.
“Well, I was just trying to avoid complications that I don’t really seek or want, anyway, especially now. I saw a girl inside that came to me before. She was there with a group of friends and she was eyeing me again.” Jeremy replied. “Remember what happened with the girl you introduced me to, your date the last time we went out. I ended up plastered on social media with her!”
“Man, sorry about that again. I didn’t realize that she only wanted to do that when she asked me if we can go out.” Stephen said. “Had I known it would happen, I would have said no. She is a friend of my sister, actually! I forgot to tell you.”
“No worries, Stephen. Water under the bridge. Though, Nat thought we were dating! She asked me about it after she had agreed to accompany me to the awards next week. It took me a while to persuade her this time. It was strange really as usually, she just say yes, except when she is not free.”
“Hmmm, see, take that as a sign. Maybe she was actually jealous, doesn’t like you with other girls. At least, she is not indifferent to that aspect of your life.”
“I don’t know Stephen. I just don’t want a repeat of that incident with Katrina Robles, especially now that I’m leaning towards taking that gamble you were talking about. I want to have a better chance with Nat. I have been trying to clean my act, lately! I want to be the person she wants to be romantically, and not just the ‘platonic’ thing we have. I want to be the love of her life, and not as a surrogate brother!”
“Jer, you are a good guy and Nat know the real you. Just hold on to that. Be yourself. I don’t think she believes all the drivel that has been written about you. Most of it were not true and she knows that of all people. There’s nothing to clean. Don’t change who you are. I think Nat wouldn’t want that. I am not her, and I can’t really speak for her, but I got to know her pretty well through you.” Stephen said earnestly, then added. “Now I understand why you had declined my invitation to go out twice. Was it part of this ‘new you’ campaign?”
“No, it was not just because of that! I was just feeling tired of the sameness of going to our usual haunts. Don’t you feel like that at times?”
“Yes, I do! Especially, I get tired of those people who thought that I can get them a job in our radio stations and that they just want to be in my good graces because of the influence they thought I have in the industry. But with you and our friends, it is different. I just want to hang out with you and be me.”
“The same goes for me, Stephen, the same goes for me!” Jeremy said, taking one more drink from his still half full bottle. “Shall we get going? I have a rehearsal early tomorrow for my upcoming concert. You know it has been a while since I have done one and I’m kind of, nervous.”
“Really, you nervous? You have done it a lot of times. Why don’t you ask Natasha to be a guest in your concert? I’m sure the fans you got through ‘Rent’ would love that as well. That way, you also get to spend more time with her. You two, look very good on stage and I’m sure a lot of people would like to see that chemistry on stage again.”
“Hmmm, that’s a wonderful idea, Stephen! I will suggest it to the producers.” Jeremy grinned, liking the idea. “I will have to persuade Nat first. She may not like to be a guest in my concert. She seemed reluctant, really, to be seen with me in big events these days! I wonder why.”
“Why don’t you find out? You have always been opened with each other, isn’t it? No harm in asking her. You might even be surprised with her answer!” Stephen remarked enigmatically. “So, you are really going for it?”
“Yes, I am.” Jeremy said with conviction, then he grinned boyishly, happy with his decision. “Thanks, Stephen for helping me sort things out.”
“For you, my friend, anytime. Good luck. Looking forward to be your best man.”
“Hahahahaha, that’s way to ahead! Thanks for wishing me good luck. I feel like I need it, tons of it, actually. I’m nervous.”
“You can do it man. Trust your feelings and trust what you and Nat have for the past several years.”
“I do, and that’s giving me courage.”
The two friends parted for the night. On the way home, Jeremy’s head was full of plans on how to let Nat knows that he loves her. That he wants to be her man, forever!
Slow Burn – Chapter 1
“Nat, please go with me! Please, please, please!” Jeremy pleaded with his long-time friend Natasha Reynoso one more time. He had been trying to convince her for half an hour, and she was not budging. “You know you are the only want I want to be with, when I attend those awards ceremonies! Don’t you want to share that moment with me, if I win?”
Natasha gazed at her friend of several years, Jeremy Ledesma, and his very handsome, boyish, pleading, please-save-me-again-Natasha-look and she does not really have the heart to deny him, even if would mean people speculating anew if they are more than friends. She can’t avoid it, and she should be used to it by now. Jeremy has always been in the limelight owing to the fact that he is the hottest pop singer in the country. While she on the other hand, is a theater actress, known too, yes, but not to the level that Jeremy is. Most people in the country probably came to know her, because of Jeremy, and not because of the roles she had played on stage through the years. They have been asked countless of times if they are a couple. But they have always maintained that they are just very good friends.
Who would have thought that they will end up the best of friends after meeting each other in the local production of the hit Broadway musical ‘Rent’. Jeremy had crossed over into theater that time, out to prove something – that he was just not just another pretty face who can carry a tune. She, on the other hand, at that time had several lead roles in musicals under her belt. After all, she was a theater baby.
Natasha had been on stage since she was a little girl, gravitating towards it naturally, owing to the fact that her mother was in the theater too, as a costume designer. She had encouraged Natasha to try the stage as it was her dream to be an actress as well, but she didn’t have the talent for it. Miriam Reynoso had switched career when Nat was four years old. Now her mother works as a flight attendant for an airline. Nat does not mind as her mother’s old life rubbing off her, or for encouraging her to go into the theater at a young age. If she had not taken a liking to it instantly, she would have been glad to do this for her wonderful mother who single-handedly raised her after her father walked out on them when she was two years old.
Her mother told Nat when she turned 13, as she believed that she was old enough to know, that her father’s reason of abandoning them was that he needed to find himself. He found it another woman, a colleague, in the multi-national company where he still works. Despite this, her mom didn’t turn bitter towards love. She told Nat that sometimes, love and relationship just don’t work out the way you want it or wish it to be, but it does not mean you will close yourself off love or loving again. She said, love can be very beautiful with the right person. Nat thought otherwise. She had an inkling it took a long time for her mother to recover from her father’s betrayal. Despite what she said about love, until now her mother is ‘single’! Nat had also seen the bad side of love too many times in her friends, and she refused to fall into the trap of loving someone too much, and getting her heart-broken in the process.
Jeremy was ‘Roger’ to her ‘Mimi’ in the musical which became a big hit with the local theater fans. Jeremy was described as a very soulful Roger, especially when he sang ‘One Song Glory’. People also noticed their onstage chemistry and the fact they became good friends after a few false starts fuelled speculations that there was more than friendship between them. People also would see them together in concerts, even if it was not Jeremy’s and watching movies late at night, when they thought there would be fewer people to recognize them. It was not because they didn’t like the fans, but sometimes, they just want some private time to relax and be like ordinary people out for the night. She had been the person Jeremy confides to, even with his affairs of the hearts. While, he on the other hand, became her buffer against overeager suitors.
“Okay, okay, fine, I’ll go with you! Hindi naman talaga kita kayang tiisin!” Natasha said with a resigned expression, then asked before she can stop herself, “What happened to the girl you were supposed to be dating? The commercial model? I saw a cozy photo of the two of you in social media several weeks ago. Then there were write ups and alleged sightings of the two of you!” Then added hastily, “I have been meaning to ask you if it was anything serious, but you know I was busy with ‘Evita’!”
“Yes!!!! Thank you, Nat. You are the best! You are my one and only! Hmmm, about that girl, there is nothing to it.” Jeremy shrugged and fiddled with his drinks. The two of them were having their Friday bonding time at her place, something they have been doing after ‘Rent’, when both of them do not have commitments. There were times they can’t do this, and would just update each other through text or calls in between schedules. “I just met her in a bar one evening. She was actually with Stephen. She asked for a photo and I was just trying to be friendly since she is a friend of a friend, the next thing I know, our photo was plastered all over social media, picked up by showbiz blogs and speculated on. It was just that meeting, the other instances were not true.”
“Well, sometimes, I think you don’t really have an idea on how famous you are! But I guess sometimes, you can’t really do anything about it, aside from refusing pointblank, of course, but then you will get bash also, and may even be called suplado. Just keep your distance, if you can, so there wouldn’t be a chance for people to assume, or try to use or bash you.” Natasha advised Jeremy.
“Yes, I try, Nat. But sometimes, it’s difficult to strike a balance!” Jeremy said earnestly. “But I think, I’m done partying until the wee hours of the morning. I’m getting tired of the sameness of it. Haven’t been in a bar in weeks. You just didn’t notice because you were busy. I prefer your company more! Though, when you are busy, and I get bored, I go out with my friends, you know that, but that’s about it.”
“Don’t you get bored with my company? I’m kinda dull. See, if I don’t have a play or a musical to do, I’m just here at home, reading a book or writing the libretto of that original musical that is still in my head, that I dream of producing one day.” Natasha asked curiously, seriously. “I mean, you are young, you should go out. Don’t change your habit just because of me, and our Friday time. Di ba, you like going out before?”
“Yes, and you are young too, and should go out, if that is your premise. I prefer having quiet times with you like this. And most importantly, you are not dull!” Jeremy insisted. “Besides, you might get busy na naman with a new show, and I with my stuff, then we will not see each other for weeks!”
“Up to you, really Jer. And speaking of that, wish me luck! I heard from a friend that the producers of ‘Miss Saigon’ will be auditioning again for new cast members and since they got a lot of the cast members from here before, Manila will be their priority stop.” Nat said excitedly. It has been a dream of hers to be a part of a West End or a Broadway production even if it just in the ensemble. Maybe, she also needs a change of scene, so to speak. She had been feeling a bit restless and listless lately. The news about the possible audition perked her up.
“Really? When?” Jeremy suddenly sat up from his very comfortable position, with his head on Nat’s lap.
“Tommy, is not sure yet. But he is friend with the local agent that the production is using, so he told me, he will inform me promptly as soon as he gets a confirmation from his friend. Imagine, finally, my dream of going to West End or Broadway, is slowly shaping up. I do wish I will get in. Let’s keep our fingers crossed!” Nat said, hugging Jeremy unconsciously in her excitement. “You never know, maybe I can do it one go if I get in. Be both in West End and Broadway if I do good. I just read online that Miss Saigon will go back to Broadway in a year or two!”
“Really, not ‘if’, but when you make it, you will be abroad that long?” Jeremy asked, surprised, at the same time, feeling unsettled that Natasha will be away from him that long.
“Yes, why not? I’m okay with that. I don’t really have ties here, except this condo unit and Bubbles. And I’m sure you will take care of her for me, di ba, until I can send for her?” Nat reasoned out.
Bubbles is her cute orange tabby cat, a gift from Jeremy when she did ‘Cats’. He told her it was something to remember the musical with. He is thoughtful like that, giving her gifts associated with the milestones in her life.
“Yes, of course! But what about me?” Jeremy suddenly asked. Natasha has been his anchor in the ups and downs of his life, and suddenly he felt like he was going to be cast adrift. Then he realized, he does not have the right to ask that of her, as they are just friends. “ I mean, we will not see each other much anymore.”
“Well, you can come and visit me in London if I make it. You can even stay with me.” Nat offered. “Besides, we can always have our Friday time online. It’s easy to do that now with all the technology at our disposal. Come on, it would be fun! We can explore London and other parts of England, Scotland, Ireland or other countries in Europe during my free time and days. We haven’t been to Europe together. I know you have been, but me, no and I would like you to be with me, when I finally do!”
Jeremy grinned, liking the idea and the excitement he can see on Nat’s eyes. It is Natasha’s time to shine, especially now that she had finally found the courage to spread her wings. He knows that with her talent, she will pass the audition. So, he is readying himself to months and months without her. Yes, there were times that they don’t see each other for weeks, but he knows that she is just there. She is just a car drive away, and a phone call away, on the same timezone.
“Okay, okay. You better save that spare bedroom for me, Nat. I’m gonna camp at your place for weeks and months if I can manage it.” Jeremy said, at the same time, it occurred to him that she might meet a guy there that she likes very much, and he would be the third wheel. He does not want to think about that now. “I’m sure you will get in. With your talent, no doubt about it.”
“Of course. It would have your name on the door of my other room, or my sofa since I may have to live in a small apartment to save on expenses!” Nat assured, smiling, at the same time, feeling sad all of a sudden. She has gotten used to Jeremy also and for the past years, this wonderful, misunderstood guy has been a big part of her life. The thought of not seeing him is also making her feel unsettled. “Thank you for your support, Jer. It is important to me. You know that of all people. I really value your friendship.”
“You have it, Nat for always. You are very important to me, too. You know that. You are a very big part of my life and what makes you happy, makes me happy too.” Jeremy said, putting his hand over Nat’s, and suddenly wishing that they can really be more than friends. He jerked at the thought. He hasn’t thought of that in years! He tried not to think of that in years. Her friendship is more important to him than them ending in a romantic relationship with her, and possibly, breaking up eventually. He had seen it happened to friends several times. He needed to think.
“So, would you like to watch another movie?” Nat asked suddenly, breaking into Jeremy’s thought. “Are you hungry, do you want more chips? I can also make you something heavier? I think I have enough ingredients for an omelette!”
“Thanks a lot, but I better get going Nat. It’s a bit late and I know you have not recovered your energy yet after your last show.” Jeremy, stood up. Natasha gave him the opening he needed. “I’ll pick you up on Wednesday, sixes, for that awards, okay. But do let me know if you hear something concrete from that audition before that, okay? And I’ll drive you to that audition, moral support, you know.”
“Sure. You rest too. I know you are busy for your upcoming concert also. I can go there on my own.” Natasha insisted.
“Nope, not negotiable! I want to be there for my best friend.”
“Thank you, Jer. You are the best guy friend a girl could have.”
Jeremy gave Nat a brilliant, boyish smile, and teased her by pinching her nose. “Of course, I’m one of a kind. I’m the one and only guy in your life.”
Natasha smiled, a bittersweet smile. That is true. Jeremy is the only guy that has gotten close to her this much. “Okay, go and drive carefully! Good night!”
Natasha moved to give Jeremy a goodbye kiss on the cheek. He turned suddenly, and instead of his cheek, their lips met. Without really intending to, Jeremy deepened the kiss and Nat responded. They stayed like that for a while. When they broke apart, both have startled looks on their faces. They realized what they just did, what had just happened. Strange, as they have kissed on stage before and it didn’t have this effect. Yes, there was something years ago, when they kissed, but it was not like this, wasn’t it? They gazed at each other again, then, both, as if by silent agreement, opted not to make a deal out of it then, unable to rationalize the feeling. They said a hasty good night.
Jeremy was out of Natasha’s place fast! He has some thinking to do, some serious thinking to do. He needed to think about what is happening. He though that he had buried it so deep, but apparently not!
Note: This has been in my head, and in my draft folder, for a while! This not a Richard and Maya story as you have read. I just needed to write another ‘Pippa-and-Ethan-kind-of-fiction’. I hope you will like this as well! 🙂 No worries, one of my New Year’s resolutions is to write more! I promise not to disappear for long periods of time! 🙂 I’m off to my favorite coffee shop again later. Yesterday, I took my daughter to the cinema and watched Snoopy and Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie with her! ❤