Posts Tagged Unexpected Love
“Happy, Mrs. Bowman?”
“Very, very happy, Mr. Bowman!”
“I love you very much, darling!”
“I love you very much too, honey!”
“The start of our lives together, at long last!”
“I’m looking forward to that!”
“I am, too, darling Pip, especially to our honeymoon, finally!” Ethan teased Pippa naughtily, making her blushed.
Pippa looked at her husband with so much love, before whispering back, softly and with a naughty smile as well. “Me too, honey! Me too!”
Ethan grinned and gave his wife a quick, but searing kiss. Pippa shivered, feeling the effect of that kiss deep into her being, as always. Ethan didn’t know where he got the willpower not to make love to Pippa in the three months they have been engaged and was practically living together. There were times where they came very close to doing so despite his, and her, resolve! Yes, they found ways to express their passion and desire for each other, learned about each other’s body, to satisfy each other somehow, in the meantime slaked the thirst, so to speak, while counting the days until they will become husband and wife. However, despite all the intimacies they have done together, they had managed, barely, to stop making love all the way.
Ethan and Pippa looked at each other again, and with a heated promise to each other, they glided gracefully in front of their guests. This was their first dance as husband and wife, several hours after their beautiful and simple wedding at the Immaculate Conception Parish in Puerto Galera that morning, with their families and friends from England, Davao, Manila, and from Puerto Galera, in attendance.
Colorful capiz lanterns and floor to ceiling lamps made of native materials illuminate the big open Anahaw pavilion especially built for Ethan and Pippa’s wedding reception at The Cove. Pippa’s mother insisted on building the pavilion to make her daughter’s wedding extra special. When Pippa half-heartedly protested that it may be over the top as she and Ethan only wanted a simple wedding, Mommy Marianne countered it by saying that it isn’t everyday that her only daughter is getting married. Besides, she said, it can be used afterwards as a wedding venue in the resort. Pippa stopped protesting and went along with what her and mother, her future mother-in-law, Virgie, and hers and Ethan’s wedding planner had suggested for their beautiful Filipiniana themed wedding. To complete the theme of the wedding, Philippine flowers and plants of all varieties were placed all over the pavilion and the areas around it, transforming it into a very beautiful tropical garden! It was picture perfect, and just the way Pippa envisioned her wedding to be.
Mommy Marianne sat closely with her balae and college friend Virgie, and her husband Colin, as they happily watched their children beautifully moving on the dance floor, with eyes only for each other. Both of them, while in college never thought that one day, their children will end up married to each other! But they were ecstatic that it happened. Seeing the happiness and the love between Pippa and Ethan, they couldn’t ask for more.
Mommy Marianne also wished then that her Tommy can see their daughter at that moment. She looked radiant. Her son-in-law, so handsome and looking so very much in love with her daughter. Mommy Marianne knew, doubly so that her daughter is in good hands. A mother couldn’t asked for more. Indeed, she had gotten a son in Ethan.
Virginia Bowman clutched her husband’s hand tightly as they, too, were very happy that Ethan has finally found a love that will last forever. After what their son had experienced almost a year before, they were very glad that he had bounced back and found true and lasting happiness in the arms of the lovely girl he had met unexpectedly. Love and happiness had found their son and they couldn’t ask for more. They just hope and pray that Allison will find the same happiness and love as what her brother had found with Pippa! Meeting Pippa and learning that their son was engaged to be married was the best news they have received since their son informed them that he was finally coming home after several months of disappearing in Asia! Now, this! Their happiness is complete.
Three months after they got engaged, Pippa and Ethan finally had the wedding of their dreams! Her cousin Belle was Pippa’s maid of honor. Werner was Ethan’s best man. Isabel, Pippa’s business partner in the production house she formed after returning from England, was also part of the entourage. Some of Pippa’s friends at her old work also made it to the wedding, combining it with a vacation to Pippa’s family resort. Tristan and his clinic partner, Joshua were also in attendance, together with their ‘heartbroken’ nurses, Susan and Marita, teasing Ethan that their heart will not recover, seeing that he is married. Ethan and Pippa laughed at their antics. Tristan was part of the wedding entourage as well. Colin, from Ethan and Werner’s company was also there with his Filipina girlfriend, and Ethan’s close friends from England, Robert and Timothy!
Ethan’s family from Davao also attended – his Uncle Michael, Aunt Minerva and several other aunts and uncles, and Melissa, who like Ally, was a bridesmaid. It was a good thing, Allison made it to the wedding, having just had a vacation several months before! She went back to England ahead of Pippa and Ethan. Ally made it to Mindoro several days after they have return home to tell Pippa’s mom of their engagement and their plans for the future. Pippa also updated her mother on her decision to quit her job and pursue her passion. As with her every endeavor before, she got the support of her mother, who was very, very happy on her engagement to Ethan. When Belle found about their engagement, she was ecstatic too. Tristan was also present when they informed their family and friends in Mindoro and he offered them his sincere congratulations. Ally had a wonderful week in Mindoro. She got along very well with Tristan, Joshua and Belle. When she leaving for England, Joshua, who was going to Manila at the same time for a conference, offered to take her to the airport. Ethan and Pippa promised Ally that they will travel to England as soon as they have manage to arrange things.
Ethan and Pippa finally got to visit the Bowmans in England more than a month after they had been to Mindoro to tell Mommy Marianne that they got engaged. Upon learning that Ethan was engaged to the daughter of her best friend, Virgie Bowman was ecstatic. She insisted on hosting an engagement party for Ethan and Pippa before they return to the Philippines for their family and friends in England who can’t make it to the wedding. She also insisted to Pippa that she would like to help in the planning of her only son’s wedding. So, when Pippa and Ethan went home from their month-long visit in England, the elder Bowmans traveled back to the Philippines with them.
Ethan also met with Claudia’s mother during their first week in England. He wanted to fully close that chapter of his life. She reluctantly agreed to meet him for coffee one afternoon at a neutral place for them after he told her that he would like to give her something that was of great value to Claudia. Pippa offered to come with him, but suggested that she can stay in the background as Claudia’s mum may not like it that Ethan was engaged to be married. Ethan said, it would be better if he does it alone, anyway.
The meeting between Claudia’s mum, Cordelia, and Ethan was cordial, but only lasted less than an hour. Ethan can see that Cordelia was not as composed as she should be when he gave her Claudia’s diary. Ethan hugged Pippa tight after the meeting. While it only lasted a short time, it had drained his energy. Several days after, he was surprised to received a call from Cordelia, asking him to meet again.
Ethan met Cordelia at a coffee shop near the Leicester Square Tube Station. Pippa went with Ally to Notting Hill. The two of them were planning to see what they can buy at the Portobello Road Market. Ethan saw a different Cordelia. She looked broken and sad. He guessed she had read her daughter’s diary. All she asked Ethan, when he sat before her, was to forgive her and to thank her for taking care of her daughter. She also said that she had hoped that one day she can forgive herself to what she had done to her daughter. Ethan softly told her that he hopes she will find peace one day. He said goodbye to her several minutes after. He and Pippa went to where Claudia was buried afterwards and offered a prayer for her and the baby. He felt so much lighter after they have done so. He was completely at peace, especially, he has the life he was making with Pippa to look forward to.
The rest of Pippa and Ethan’s stay in England was spent playing tourists in London and in nearby areas. One of the most memorable moments that Pippa and Ethan treasure was their London Eye ride. They kissed when they reached the top amid the magnificent scenery before them. It also reminded them of their Star City Ferris Wheel ride and their declaration of feelings for each other then. Ethan treated Pippa to a musical also in West End. They also drove around outside London and spent several days in Edinburgh and Glasgow in Scotland. They flew back after several weeks and got busy, only with the wedding, but their new jobs, Ethan in Werner’s company and Pippa with the production company she formed with Isabel. She had also launched her blog and it was well received. Several of her posts even went viral.
“Honey are you seeing what I’m seeing?” Pippa whispered to Ethan as they took one last twirl around as the music was ending.
“What?” Ethan asked, smiling, looking at the part of the pavilion where her gaze was, his brows knitted in curiosity.
Pippa pointed to where Tristan was sitting. He was scowling and the object of his displeasure was Belle, who was laughing hard at what Werner said. Pippa noticed it when they were rehearsing for the wedding. Werner was very attentive to Belle and he was very charming. He made Belle laughed a lot. She also noticed Tristan looking intently at Belle, but Belle was refusing to look at him. She tried asking her cousin several times if she and Tristan had a misunderstanding or something, but she changed the topic every time she asked. Pippa stopped prying. She felt that something happened to her cousin and their friend in between the time she and Ethan were in Northern Luzon and in England. It became obvious when they were planning the wedding. Belle was barely talking to Tristan, despite the fact that he seemed to want to talk to her. That evening, it was obvious that Tristan didn’t like Belle flirting with Werner. In fact, he looked very jealous. Pippa noticed that he had been looking at Belle closely, and there was that kiss after the bouquet and garter ceremony. It was Belle who caught the flowers and it was Tristan who got the garter. After he had put the garter on Belle’s leg, he looked at her with so much intent, then to hers and everyone’s surprise, he kissed her on the lips. Belle blushed and looked at Tristan with an unguarded expression, before she took on a neutral expression, then after a smile that seemed force, she went back to where Ally and other bridesmaids were sitting. Tristan walked away sadly, but with a determined expression on his face.
“Oh!” Ethan said, smiling. “Playing matchmaker, honey?”
“Hahahaha, this is looking very interesting, indeed!” Pippa said. “Parang alam ko na kung sino ang susunod na ikakasal sa atin! Though parang may hindi tayo alam. But I have a very good feeling about this two!”
Ethan nodded. “I think I agree with you on this dear wife! Pero parang marami pang kailangang gawin si Doc Tristan to win Belle’s heart. I wish him all the luck.”
The two of them shared a smile, then kissed as the music ended. They bowed to their guests. The end of their first dance was also the signal for everyone to go on the dance floor. When Pippa and Ethan were returning to their table, they caught a glimpse of Werner beating Tristan in asking Belle to dance. They smiled.
The party lasted for several hours more. Pippa and Ethan said goodbye to their families and guests late afternoon. They will fly to Palawan via a helicopter that was also part of the gift of Pippa’s godmother Evelyn to them aside from a week’s stay in her beautiful island vacation home. They have thanked Evelyn Romero, and her husband Raymond, earlier for their very generous gift to them.
“Pippa, Ethan, ingat kayo mga anak and enjoy your honeymoon.” A teary-eyed Marianne Montenegro told the newly weds, hugging them one after the other. “Ethan, take care of my daughter ha.”
“Yes, Mom, I will.” Ethan promised Marianne.
“Mom. don’t cry na. Akala ko pa naman tapos na iyan sa church.” Pippa teased her mother. “I love you very much.”
“I love you very much too, anak, and ikaw rin Ethan. Tears of joy naman ito mga anak. I am still having a hard time believing that my daughter has finally found her prince.” Mommy Marianne said, smiling happily at her daughter and son-in-law.
“Balae, I know the feeling. I’m happy too that my son has found his princess.” Mummy Virgie told everyone. “Enjoy your honeymoon, Pippa, Ethan. Don’t worry about us. Marianne and I, with your Dad, Ethan, are planning to take a trip up North as well, doon sa mga lugar na pinuntahan ninyo. Ally is joining us I think. Napag-usapan namin kagabi. We would like to see the place where Ethan proposed to you Pippa.”
“Talaga po! I’m sure you will like it there, Mum, Dad. I’m so glad also Mom that you are taking a vacation.” Pippa said happily.
“O sige, Ethan, Pippa, lumakad na kayo and baka gabihin pa kayo.” Mommy Marianne said.
Ethan and Pippa finally made it to the chopper a round of hugs and goodbye to their well-wishers. They arrived at the beautiful island as the sun was setting. They were welcomed by the caretakers and it seemed like another surprise was waiting for them. The whole place was filled with flowers and decorated with colorful lanterns.The place was fit for an unforgettable honeymoon. It was like stepping into their own private paradise.
Ethan carried Pippa over the threshold of the place after the thanking the caretakers and assuring them that they don’t need anything for the night. Manang Maring and Manong Banong told them that they will just be at their small hut at the far edge of the property should they need anything.
“Sa wakas, Mrs. Bowman,” he said with a silly, naughty and teasing grin. “Here we are!”
“Yes, my husband, here we are! Imagine, parang kailan lang I saw you chopping wood at my mother’s yard.” Pippa smiled at the memory, remembering that the first thing she noticed was Ethan without a shirt on. “Akalain mo ba naman!
“Hmmm, parang alam ko na ang ibig sabihin ng smile na iyan. Remembering that scene, parang I felt I was ogled as someone took a sip of Coke.” He teased. “Admit it, Pippa darling.”
“Hahahahaha, guilty. You looked so handsome kaya! Kahit na broken-hearted ako noon, I still have eyes.”
Ethan grinned, then cupped Pippa’s face. “And you looked so very lovely my darling, standing there, with legs that went on forever. My heart is so full that you are mine now. I never thought that I will feel this happy in almost a year after the most devastating thing that had happened to me.”
“Me too, Ethan. after the heartache, here I am, so well-loved by you. I love you very much so.” Pippa caressed Ethan’s beloved face.
Ethan lowered his lips to Pippa and gave her a searing kiss. Pippa kissed him back with all the love and desire she was feeling for her husband. Both of them thought at long last, here they were, in their wedding night! The kiss turned into more intense kisses, the desire they have ignited in each other turning into a conflagration. Ethan carried Pippa to the big bed, strewn with roses, laid her gently and started undressing her, slowly and maddeningly. He kissed every spot he had uncovered, sending volts of desire into Pippa’s. When he managed to remove every stitch of clothing, he looked hotly and with so much love at his beautiful bride, who also looked at him with eyes glazed with desire, and with all the love she was feeling. He undressed slowly and when he had shed off all his clothes, he joined his wife on the bed and proceeded to love her gently, taking in consideration her innocence. They loved throughout most of the night and indeed, it was worth the wait. They only stopped when sleep beckoned and they can’t ignore it anymore. Ethan covered his and Pippa naked and sated bodies with a beautiful embroidered blanket he found at the foot of the bed. They slept for the first time as husband and wife, as close as two person could be.
Pippa was woken up with searing kisses the following morning. She smiled and looked at her handsome and wonderful husband with so much love. They shared a look and before long, they were kissing each other with abandon, wanting to satisfy the passion that ignited between them again. Ethan wanted to be gentle as Pippa might still be sore for all the beautiful loving they did the night before, but Pippa will have none of it. She took the initiative and their lovemaking was more explosive than the first time they came together. More than two hours later, they finally got out bed as they can’t ignore their hunger anymore. Pippa made them an omelette, just like the first evening they shared a meal. They went for a swim after their leisurely brunch.
Ethan and Pippa expressed their love for each other in every way they could in the days and night they have spent in that beautiful, secluded island. They were like in a world of their own.
“I love you very much, my darling.” Ethan whispered to Pippa as they sat on a blanket by the beach, watching the sun set the day before they returned to Manila. “I will love you until my last breath.”
“I love you very much too, honey. I will do the same. I will love no other. I’m looking forward to a lifetime as your partner and beloved wife.” Pippa said emotionally as she reclined against her husband’s chest.
Pippa turned and the two of them shared another smouldering kiss as the sun was setting. When the sun was but a small disc on the horizon, they returned to the house to have dinner and the night was spent loving each other again in every possible way. Both of them knew even then that it will always be like this for them for the rest of their lives. Indeed, both of them were very lucky to find a love that would last a lifetime, unexpectedly!
Note: With this, I finally found my groove again, I think. 🙂 Sorry for just ‘disappearing’. I had writer’s block for some reason! I kept myself busy in the meantime (I also needed to help out my sister with her house moving), hoping to get out of it. Hopefully, I did! I have started working on the last part of On the Street Where You Live as well.
This ends Pippa and Ethan’s story, which is special to me too as this is my first non-RM fiction. Thank you very much for reading this as well, and supporting my other works. Next will be Doc Tristan’s and Belle’s story in Unrequited Love. Thank you very much, again, for the support. ❤
“Excited, darling?” Ethan asked Pippa as the two of them settled more comfortably into the seats at the open part of the boat that would take them back to Puerto Galera from the Batangas Port, more than a month after they have left the island, one after the other. It was just four weeks ago, but it felt like ages as so many wonderful things had happened to them, so many beautiful places they have been, the warm and nice people that they had met, and the unforgettable experience they have shared together!
“Yes, darling, and I’m also quite nervous!” Pippa admitted, taking comfort in hers and Ethan’s clasped hands. This is it for them! They will tell her mother, that not only they are in a relationship, but that they are engaged, and would like to get married the soonest time possible.
Pippa and Ethan decided that they would like to get married at the place where they have met, Puerto Galera, and have the reception at Pippa’s family’s resort! The honeymoon, they haven’t decided on a place yet, though they are thinking of Palawan, in a small private island that belongs to one of Pippa’s godmothers. She has a standing invitation from her Ninang Evelyn to go and stay in the island, which is just being used as a vacation place of the Romeros and their families and friends. Pippa was actually planning to take Ethan and Ally to that place had their Palawan trip pushed through.
While Pippa and Ethan have called their respective parents during the two weeks that they have been traveling around Northern Luzon, they opted not to tell them about their relationship, and their engagement over the phone as they want to tell the wonderful news to them in person! They are planning to see them the soonest. In the case of Marianne Montenegro in two weeks time, which is in about an hour or so, and the Bowmans after a month, depending on what Pippa and her boss will agree on. She had decided to tell her boss that her decision is final, she is resigning from her job. Then, she and Ethan will travel to England to see his parents, and to give Claudia’s diary to her mum.
Pippa almost told her mother that she and Ethan are in a relationship when they talked to her briefly before their trip to Northern Luzon . But it was so new then, and she wanted to have a heart to heart with her mother about it. She was planning to call her and tell her about it, but she was the one who phoned and asked how she and Ethan were. The three of them ended up talking about their trip and Ally’s vacation in Mindoro. She felt at that time that there was just too much to tell her mother over the phone. She would tell her about all the wonderful developments when they see her.
Only Allison knows about their engagement. She phoned Ethan one evening and he admitted to her that he had proposed to Pippa at the Bantay Bell Tower! Ethan said his sister was being makulit as she knew that he was planning to propose to Pippa. He just asked her to keep it to herself as he and Pippa are planning to tell the parents in person. Ally told the two of them that of course, she will and that she is very happy for the two of them. She also informed Ethan that their parents will be home in two weeks time.
Pippa smiled and gave Ethan a kiss while the boat was under way to the port in the town, where they will be pick up by Mang Ben. Pippa had called her mother the night before. She told her that she and Ethan were back in Manila and that they will travel to Mindoro the following day. Her mother was happy know that and told them that she will prepare all their favorite dishes, and that Manong Ben will pick them up from the pier.
“What’s that all about darling? Not that I mind you kissing me! You may kiss me anytime, you know.” Ethan said smiling at the love of his life.
“Wala lang, honey, I’m just very, very, very happy! I will see Mom na, and also I was remembering your proposal and our trip! I can’t wait to tell her that we are getting married!” Pippa replied, looking again at her ring for the nth time. At times, it still feels unreal to her that she and Ethan are about to get married. It was already hard enough believing that they are in a relationship, that in just a short time after her heartache with Martin, she found the love of her life! “Sometimes, I feel like asking you to pinch me at baka kasi nananaginip ako!”
“You are not the only one, Pippa darling.” Ethan hugged Pippa and gave her a kiss on the forehead. “But what we experienced together so far, it is just the beginning of our wonderful journey together.”
Hugging each other and with loving smiles solely for each other, they passed the time by remembering their wonderful trip the past two weeks and the nights they have spent in each other arms, savoring the feeling of knowing that they are committed to each other for life. That their lives would be like that, in each other arms, sharing each other thoughts, sharing experiences, hopes, dreams and loving for always.
The first person who congratulated Ethan and Pippa when they got down from the bell tower was Manang Lucing and a group of tourists wanting to climb the bell tower after them. Ethan had asked Manang Lucing in secret to leave them alone in the bell tower as he would like to propose to his girlfriend. The old lady, a romantic at heart, was all smiles and readily agreed. She also promised him that they will not be disturbed while they were there. She also wished Ethan luck. Like what they have agreed on, after taking their photos, she went down to stand guard.
Seeing the ring on Pippa’s finger when they got out of the tower, and the happy smiles on their faces, she readily concluded that the proposal was a success. She offered her congratulations. The other tourists upon hearing this, congratulated them as well. They even teased Ethan na kaya pala ayaw silang paakyatin pa sa bell tower ni Manang Lucing eh magpo-propose siya! Ethan and Pippa thanked the old lady and their well-wishers. The two of them went back inside the church and prayed for the success of their relationship, and thanked God, again, for bringing them together.
When they returned to Mang Erning’s calesa, they told him of their engagement, unable to contain their happiness. The old guy was also all smiles, offering his congratulations. They continued their sightseeing tour, chatting with their kutsero about their relationship, and in the process, they also found out a bit about him, that he has four children, he and his wife has sent to school by sheer hard work, him as a kutsero and a handyman, and his wife as a weaver and a seller of cosmetic products. All of the kids had finished college and wanted for Mang Erning to retire as kutsero as they can provide for him and their mother. But Mang Erning told them that he likes what he is doing and chatting to very nice tourists like Pippa and Ethan makes him happy and it is his life now.
Hearing his story, Pippa asked him if she could write about his story in the blog she is making. Mang Erning he would be happy too as he would like other parents to get inspired into sending their kids to school no matter what and no job is too small or too ordinary basta love mo ang ginagawa mo. Hearing the old guy and his positive attitude, Pippa’s felt that she had made the right decision in pursuing her dreams too.
While they did their tour, Pippa interspersed it with an interview with Mang Erning, with Ethan acting as her cameraman. They also invited Mang Erning to lunch as a way of thanking him for showing them around and treat nila sa engagement nila. They also hired him for the rest of the day. Like what they have agreed on, he took them to a burnayan where Pippa tried her hand in making a simple burnay jar, while Ethan took a video of her doing it for her blog, as well as recorded her interview with the potter. They did the same thing in the weaving place where Mang Erning took them next. Seeing it, and trying her hand at weaving, Pippa realized how difficult it is, and how much work goes into a single inabel blanket.
Pippa and Ethan didn’t make it to Santa Maria and the Quirino Bridge that first day. They just went around Vigan and the nearby areas. They also managed to tour several ancestral homes, and also the Burgos Museum and had coffee at Calle Crisologo after they have said goodbye to Mang Erning, who wished them well on their upcoming marriage.
The rest of the evening was spent going around the streets of Vigan on foot and a romantic dinner at one of the ancestral homes in the city which has been turned into a hotel. When they returned to their hotel, like the previous night, Pippa and Ethan took turns in the bathroom before they retired for the night.
However, unlike the previous night, Ethan was waiting for Pippa when she came out of the bathroom. He was reading the book he was trying to read the night before, which he quickly put down when he saw Pippa getting out of the bathroom, wearing another of her sleep t-shirt. He patted the space on the bed beside him. Pippa went to him, sitting cross-legged, trying to comb her hair. Ethan took the comb from her hand, and combed her hair gently, massaging her hair in the process.
Pippa asked Ethan where he had learned to do that as he can make a fortune doing that, as it was very relaxing. Ethan sheepishly admitted to Pippa that was the first time he did it, and hoped he did okay. He did it instinctively as he just wanted to do something for her. Pippa thanked him and said he did good and that she enjoyed it very much. She was also touched that Ethan would do that for her. She turned to face him, their eyes met and they shared a kiss that led to so much more. However, before it could go any further and cross the point of no return for them, Ethan stopped, with difficulty. Haltingly, he told Pippa that he promised himself inside the church in Bantay that he would wait for the wedding night before making love to Pippa fully.
Ethan cupped Pippa’s face and gently told her that he knows that it is very important to her, that even if she is ready to make love with him, that act is something very important to her. She had waited for the right time for it. They might as well wait for the perfect time for it, which is their wedding night. He told Pippa he can wait, honest, cross his heart. He also teased her that it is going to be a big struggle, though, as seeing her, especially dressed like that is temptation itself and he hopes he has the willpower of a saint to survive the coming months before their wedding.
Pippa can see in Ethan’s expression his resolve not to consummate their relationship before the wedding. She understood what he meant. Even when she said to Ethan almost a week before that she was ready to take their relationship to the next level, there is a part of her that is nervous of the unknown, that she needed to be eased into first. She loves Ethan the more for seeing that, and understanding. She kissed him softly on the lips and told him she loves him very much. Yes, they can wait! They went to sleep with arms around each other. Pippa slept promptly, while it took a while for Ethan to do so, praying then that he will survive the night, and the next night and the next without making love to Pippa.
Ethan did survive, barely, in the two weeks that they have traveled from Vigan, to Laoag, Paoay, Batac, Burgos, and Pagudpud, seeing the beautiful sites in these places – from the Paoay Church, to Kapurpurawan Rock Formation, to the Bangui Windmills which Ethan saying the only time he had seen windmills up close was at a farm in Denmark, then to the Cape Bojeador or the Burgos Lighthouse, down to the beautiful beaches of Pagudpud, marvelled at the Patapat viaduct engineering, also at the wonderful view and the seemingly endless sea one can see from there. Throughout their trip to the region, they also tried all the delicious local food, from bagnet to longganisa, to dinengdeng, empanada, pinakbet and some others with unusual names.
From the Patapat Viaduct, they drove to Cagayan Valley, stopping at Sta. Ana for their 45-minutes or so boat trip to Palaui where they spent most of the day, and from Sta. Ana again, they drove to Tuguegarao for the night. They also explored a bit of Tuguegarao the following morning, they went to the centuries old cathedral there, explored other old churches in the nearby areas, and tried pancit batil patung, before they went to Callao Cave, taking a boat trip down the Pinacanauan River while waiting for the thousands of bats to come out from the cave at twilight. It was worth the wait and it was a sight to see!
From there, they drove down to Isabela, and Nueva Vizcaya and up to Banaue, using it as a base as they explored the rice terraces there, and then the much beautiful one in Batad. After that, their trip took them to Bontoc, then to Sagada for several days, then to Baguio. The last leg of their trip was Pangasinan, to Alaminos for the Hundred Islands and Bolinao for the beaches there, and from there they traveled back to Manila. They arrived at Pippa’s condo the night before, rested a bit, then off to Batangas that morning for their trip to Puerto Galera.
“Why are you smiling and sighing at the same time?” Pippa asked Ethan, curious. They are about to dock at the Puerto Galera Muelle Pier, as from where they are, she can see that their boat was about to enter the lagoon that leads to it.
“Wala lang….” Ethan said, shrugging.
“Hmmmm, meron. I can see na meron.” Pippa insisted. “Tell me!”
“Okay, I will tell na.” Ethan said, then whispered, “I was smiling and was sighing because I just realized that I survived not making love to you while your delectable body was by my side every night. You don’t know how hard it was not to make love to you, you know. While I will miss you by my side when we get to your mother’s home, it is respite for me. Otherwise, I don’t think I will last longer.” Ethan confessed.
Pippa smiled, an element of mischief in it. “And I thought you were Mr. Cool all the time we have shared a bed. Maybe, I’ll sneak into your cottage, you know, make you lose that control.” She teased. But honestly, she too, thought that she wouldn’t last longer if she has to share another night with Ethan, especially now that they are not too tired from all the road trips they did.
“Pippa, darling, then I will break my promise to God.” Ethan smiled. He is sure Pippa will not do it. Despite the fact that she says she was ready for intimacy between them, she is a conservative girl at heart.
“Just teasing you, honey.” Pippa said, then gave Ethan a quick kiss. While they have not done the deed, so to speak, their sharing a bed night after night was not completely innocent. They have indulged a bit, testing the limits of their controls. Ethan also candidly answered all of Pippa’s questions about making love and intimacies between a man and woman, putting Pippa’s fear of the unknown to rest. “We really have something to look forward to on our honeymoon, Mr. Bowman.”
“We do, Mrs. Bowman-to-be. But I’m looking forward, not only to that, but to finally spending the rest of my life with you.” Ethan said, giving Pippa a gentle kiss.
“Me too, Ethan.” Pippa whispered.
The boat finally docked at the pier, and they saw Manong Ben right away, and he was with Pippa’s mother! She was supposed to be just waiting for them in the house. She waved at them as soon as she saw them! It also didn’t escape Marianne Montenegro’s notice the way her daughter and Ethan look at each other, not to mention their intertwined hands! There is something different about this two, she thought to herself. Meron na dati, pero parang mas meron ngayon!
“Mom, great to see you again!” Pippa hugged her mother tight and gave her a kiss.
“You too, anak! Na-miss naman kita ng husto!” Marianne said, then she looked at Ethan. “Ikaw din, Ethan!” She went to hug him as well.
“Hello, Tita Marianne! Glad to be back here in Puerto!” Ethan said. “Hello po, Manong Ben.” He said, waving at the old guy.
“Tara, sa bahay na tayo magkwentuhan.” Marianne Montenegro said. “Nagpaluto ako ng mga paborito ninyong food kay Doray. Hindi ko lang napigilang hindi kayo sunduin, hindi ako mapakali sa paghihintay. Kasi naman anak, I missed you ng todo-todo. Ewan ko ba, dati ka namang matagal hindi muuwi kapag marami kang trabaho, pero this time parati kitang naalala. Ikaw din, Ethan.”
The three of them walked to the car where Manong Ben parked near the restaurant where Pippa and Ethan had breakfast weeks ago. Ethan opened the door for Marianne first, then Pippa and sat with Manong Ben in front.
“Kailan pala ang dating ni Allison, Ethan? I thought kasabay ninyo na ni Pippa?” Marianne asked when they were on the road. “I forgot to ask you last night.”
“In a week’s time po, Tita Marianne. Nag-extend po siya ng kaunti pa sa Mindanao. Our cousins took her also to Iligan, Bukidnon, Cagayan De Oro, Camiguin and Siargao pala! She extended her vacation. Nag-enjoy!”
“That’s a lot of places!” Marianne remarked. “Pero I heard, magaganda raw sa mga lugar na iyon. Kahit sa Davao, hindi pa nga rin ako nakakarating. Your mum did ask me to go with her noong college kami, Ethan, pero hindi nagka-chance.”
“Oo nga Mom. Ethan and I would like to go to those places also.” Pippa remarked. “Gusto mo sumama ka na lang sa amin.”
“Kailan ninyo plano? Paano iyong work mo pala Pippa?” Marianne asked, surprised as her daughter rarely takes a vacation, and not this long.
“Oh, about that. Mom, I have a lot to tell you, pero can we wait until we get home, please.” Pippa said, hugging her mother and giving her a big, happy smile, before looking at Ethan and sharing something, a big something again.
Hmmm, now Marianne’s intuition and motherly instinct are working overtime. Marianne has an inkling that she is in for some big surprises! “Okay!” She simply said.
Soon after, they were in the driveway of the family home. Ethan opened the door for Pippa. Pippa in turned, extended her hand to help her mother out of the car. That was when her mother noticed the beautiful ring on Pippa’s finger. It looks like, it looks like, an engagement ring!!!
“Could it be??? Are they????” Marianne asked herself. Her heart also started beating fast, coupled with this, she remembered Pippa’s words early, that she has a lot to tell her. Marianne barely stopped herself from asking her daughter or screaming in delight at this development! She had hoped, wished and prayed that Pippa would find someone who will love her like she deserves to be love, and also wished that it would be Ethan, but she never expected that it will come true this soon! She felt very happy at the moment.
“Mom? Is something wrong? Bakit hindi ka pa bumababa?” Pippa asked, puzzled and then she saw where her mother’s gaze is. She smiled, blushing a bit. “Yes, Mom. I found my prince after all the ‘frogs’.” Pippa said softly to her mother, then looked at Ethan with so much love. Ethan looked at Pippa with the same expression. “Ethan and I are engaged, Mom!”
Marianne Montenegro slowly got out the car, like in a trance, then her face was wreathed in smiles, at the same time teary-eyed. She touched her daughter’s face. “Pippa, I’m happy to know.” She hugged her daughter tight, then looked at Ethan. “Come here, Ethan.” She included Ethan in the embrace, then said, “Welcome to our family, Ethan.”
“Thank you very much, Tita Marianne. Sorry po, hindi pa namin nasabi ni Pippa sa inyo sa phone. Gusto po kasi naming in person sabihin sa inyo, pati na rin kina Mum and Dad. Kaya nga po kami umuwi ng mas maaga kaysa kay Ally so we can talk to you.” Ethan said.
“Oo nga Mom. Iyon po sana ang isa sa sasabihin namin ni Ethan sa inyo.” Pippa said. “Sorry po, naunahan niyo na kami.”
“Naku, you two owe me a lot of kwento talaga!” Marianne said, smiling through her tears of joy. “Hindi ko nga alam na kayong dalawa na. Though, I had an inkling that you two are heading in that direction. Halika pasok na tayo sa loob so we can get settle in and so you can tell me the whole story from the beginning. Who would have thought ha pag-alis mo last month, Pippa anak, pagbalik mo magkaka-son-in-law na ako. And Ethan before I forget, call me Mom na rin, no more ‘Tita Marianne’!
“Yes po, Tita….Mom.” Ethan grinned, so happy that everything is okay with Pippa’s mom. He and Pippa shared a looked and his happiness was also reflected on her face.
The three of them entered the house with arms around each other. As Manang Doray serves merienda, and with Pippa and Ethan holding hands, they told Marianne Montenegro how their relationship started and how it led to Ethan proposing at the Bantay Bell Tower, two weeks before. Pippa’s mom was smiling all the time they were telling her. She was very happy for her daughter and she couldn’t ask for a better son-in-law! She is so looking forward to finally having grandchildren to spoil!
“Go ahead, Ethan, please use the bathroom first. I will just unpack my clothes. How about you? Do you want me to do it for you?” Pippa offered. She likes arranging her clothes in a cabinet instead of all of them getting crumpled in a suitcase, even if it is just for several days. The room that the hotel gave them as a beautiful, antique aparador.
“Thank you, Pippa darling. But I can do it myself.” Ethan hastily said. “I will use the bathroom first, then.”
“Ye, please go ahead. I’m not going to get settled in until I have arrange my stuffs.” Pippa smiled self-deprecatingly. “I’m a bit obsessive-compulsive when it comes to my things and traveling.”
“Whatever makes you happy, darling, that’s okay. I hope it is okay too that I’m on the messy side.” Ethan said, cupping Pippa’s chin.
“Sure, but I’ll nag you about it, once a while ha, and maybe arrange your things for you.” Pippa said teasingly.
“Oh, that’s fine with me, Pippa. I don’t mind, except I will do it this evening.” Ethan was afraid that Pippa will see the box containing the engagement ring he bought if she arranges his things. “I’ll go ahead and take a shower.” With a kiss on Pippa’s forehead, Ethan was off to the bathroom.
Pippa was humming while she put her clothes inside the clothes cabinet with an intricately designed front. The whole room, is actually furnished with antique furniture, from the four-poster bed to the night tables, aparador and the tokador. When she had finished doing that, and while waiting for Ethan, she sat cross-legged on the bed, opened her laptop, and made some notes on the places they will see in the morning, and the whole of their travel to Ilocos and Cagayan regions. They decided to leave off Batanes for another time as it would need a trip by itself!
“The bathroom is yours, darling.” Ethan said after several minutes, getting out of the bathroom with a towel wrapped around his waist, freshly shaven.
Pippa seemed to be engrossed in what she was doing, as she didn’t hear Ethan right away. She looks so beautiful with her brows knitted, typing on her Mac, sitting cross-legged on the bed. Ethan slowly crept on to her, then kissed her on the nape. “My lovely darling, it’s your turn. Bathroom is yours.”
“Oh, I’m sorry Ethan, I didn’t hear you!” Pippa said, smiling sheepishly. Ethan looked so neat, as he had shaved. and smelling of the soap that Pippa has grown to like very much, a smell she considers distinctly Ethan’s.“I’ll go in then. Here are the itinerary I plotted for tomorrow, please check if everything is okay with you. I also made a list of the places we can see in Ilocos Norte, after here in Sur, and Cagayan Valley with a summary of information. I made some revisions to our original plan.” Pippa handed the laptop to Ethan, gave him a quick kiss and went to the bathroom with her night-clothes.
Ethan put down the laptop first, went to his backpack and got a pair of boxers and t-shirt. He usually sleeps in the nude, but in deference to Pippa he had taken to wearing a t-shirt and pair of boxers to bed. After checking where the engagement ring is, he went back to the bed, checked Pippa’s itinerary, which looks fine, especially one of the places she had included in the list, fits with his plan. It looks to very nice in the photos he had seen. He had surreptitiously checked it the night before, when Pippa was in the bathroom.
He then waited for Pippa by trying to read the latest Ken Follett book that he and Pippa bought the day before. However, after a page or two, he found himself nodding and yawning, he tried to move so he will not fall asleep, but it was a losing battle. He turned on the TV, but nothing in the telly caught his attention. He gave up. For sure, he will wake up when Pippa comes out of the bathroom. Maybe, he can just take a very quick power nap!
More than an hour later, Pippa got out of the bathroom and saw Ethan fast asleep on the bed. The book that he started reading was on the floor. Pippa presumed that it fell as Ethan was in a bit of an awkward position on the bed, as if he was not intending to fall asleep yet. She picked up the book and placed it on the side table.
The driving was probably too much for Ethan as he told Pippa that has not done it in a while, added to this is the fact that he is not used to driving in the Philippines. He also spent longer hours driving than her. Pippa was afraid the position was not comfortable for Ethan and he will feel the effect of it in the morning, so she tried to move him gently so as not wake him up. Luckily, he just moved and didn’t wake up.
She pulled the blanket over him and looked at his beloved face with tenderness. Sharing the bed with him the past weeks, even if was of the innocent kind, made her realized something, he is the one she wants to wake up with every morning for the rest of her life. She gave him a tender kiss on the lips. He murmured her name but didn’t wake up. Pippa settled in beside him. Ethan put his arms around her while in sleep and it touched Pippa a lot. Even in sleep, he sought her.
The following morning, Ethan’s freshly showered face hovering over her was the first thing that entered her consciousness. She sensed him first before she saw him. She gave him a sleepy smile. “Good morning, honey. Kanina ka pa ba gising? What’s the time? Parang mataas na ang araw!” She saw that he is ready to go out in in his favorite cargo shorts and a t-shirt.
“Lovely morning to you, my darling Pip.” Ethan said, then lowered his lips to Pippa’s, giving her a good morning kiss before she can react and protest that she hasn’t even brush her teeth yet. “Sorry, I just slept on you last night. I must have been very tired from all the driving we did yesterday!”
“It’s okay, honey. That’s why I didn’t wake you up, para na rin makapagpahinga ka. I felt tired nga rin. I decided to sleep early na rin para we have energy for our sightseeing.” Pippa said, as she got out of the bed and go to the aparador to get new clothes.
“Wow, you really arranged your clothes neatly and nicely in that beautiful, old thing!” Ethan said, seeing the insides of the closet when Pippa opened it. “I noticed in your flat, but never thought much about it.”
“I told you!” Pippa said laughing, then she was off to the bathroom.
More than half an hour later, she came out of the bathroom, wearing a beautiful patchwork skirt and a white sleeveless top. She opted not to wear make-up. Her hair was tied in a ponytail. “I’m done, let’s go to breakfast.” She said, giving Ethan a brilliant smile. She is so looking forward to hers and Ethan’s adventures today and the next day and the next. Her heart is suddenly filled with an unexplained excitement for all the things they will see and experience starting today.
Ethan smiled at his radiant, lovely girlfriend. He, too, is excited for the start of their very special day. They ate breakfast at the hotel, longganisa, eggs, coffee and juice. One hour later, they were in Calle Crisologo, renting a calesa for the day. The kutsero know already here to take them as he had done it for the countless tourists that come to Vigan.
Mang Erning, their very friendly kutsero, told them that the usual sightseeing route would be to Bantay to see the bell tower and then the church, then to a burnayan, the hidden garden, the Baluarte zoo, an abel Iloco weaving place. As for the old grand mansions they can visit, and the museum, they are within walking distance of the hotel where they are staying, and Calle Crisologo. He did ask them in what particular order they want to go, or if there is somewhere else they want to go aside from the places he had mentioned. Pippa and Ethan everything sounds fine with them. They told Mang Erning that if they still have time they will take a car trip to Santa Maria and see the beautiful centuries old church there and stop at the Quirino Bridge, otherwise they will just do it the following day. Mang Erning said their plan is a good one. The tour will depend on how long do they want to stay in a place they will see.
Mang Erning first took them to Bantay. On the way, he also suggested where is the best spot to take a souvenir photo of them in his calesa, which had Pippa and Ethan smiling broadly as he assured them it’s a pam-Facebook shot! They just love their kutsero and considers themselves lucky to chance upon him when as soon as they got out of their hotel! He stopped the calesa after the arch that says Vigan and took their photo with the signage in the bakground.
“I can use it as the new cover photo of my Facebook page,” Pippa said happily, reviewing the shot. She likes hers and Ethan’s photo. Ethan’s arms were around her as he smiled handsomely at the camera.
Ethan smiled at her. “Maybe, you should wait before making a final decision, darling. I think everything in this place is picture perfect!”
“You are probably right, honey!” Pippa said. “I will surely have a hard time picking photos for the blog I’m going to write. At least, it would be easier with the videos.”
“I’ll help you.” Ethan offered, squeezing Pippa’s shoulder reassuringly. “We are in this together!”
“Thank you again, Ethan. You are the best and ever supportive boyfriend!” Pippa said, hugging Ethan and giving him a kiss. Ethan returned the kiss and they got engrossed in it and didn’t realize that the calesa has stopped at the gate of the church compound in Bantay!
“Ehemmm, Sir Ethan, Ma’am Pippa, nandito na po tayo.” A smiling, indulgent Mang Erning told them. “Dito ko na lang po kayo hihintayin.”
Pippa blushed and Ethan grinned happily at the old man. “Thank you po Mang Erning.” He assisted a still blushing Pippa down the calesa. They looked at each other lovingly, then walked hand in hand towards the entrance of the church.
They went inside the San Augustine Church first as per Pippa’s request when they were discussing the places they will go to. She likes being inside old churches, and this one, which is one of the oldest, still standing, churches in the region She wanted to go inside first before they explore the bell tower. Inside the beautiful centuries-old church, Pippa uttered a solemn silent prayer. She prayed for her and Ethan’s relationship, that they will be together for the rest of their lives. Ethan, not a very religious man, and a non-practicing Catholic, also found himself praying inside the church which has seen the flow of life for several centuries now.
Getting out of the church, they went to the place handling the tour to the Bantay Belfry/Bell Tower. Since it was still quite early, and it was on a non-peak tourists season, the was not much people going up, and having their photos taken in front of the very picturesque and towering belfry. Their guide introduced herself as Manang Lucing. While Pippa was busy taking photos, Ethan whispered a request to Manang Lucing, which had the old lady, grinning.
“Manang Lucing, bago po kami umakyat, pwede po ba kaming magpa-picture ni Ethan.” Pippa requested the smiling lady.
“Sure na sure po, Ma’am.” Manang Lucing said, taking the camera from Pippa.
Ethan and Pippa posed in front of the steps leading to the belfry which was built in the late 16th century according to the information Pippa researched. Ethan’s arms were around Pippa as they grinned at the camera.
“Ma’am, check ninyo po ang pictures,” Manang Lucing said, then remarked, “Bagay na bagay po kayong dalawa.” She told them.
Ethan and Pippa thanked the old lady and shared a loving smile. Soon after, the three of them walked towards the entrance to the bell tower. After unlocking the door, Manang Lucing guided them to the top of the belfry. When they reached the highest point that can be accessed, she told them to take all the pictures they want, and that she will just wait for them in the bottom.
“Wow, look at the view from here!” Pippa remarked as she looked out of the tower and the panoramic view that is a feast to the senses. “Ethan come, I feel like I’m on top of the world here! I’m so liking the start of our adventure together.”
When Ethan didn’t say anything, Pippa turned around to check what he was doing. He was looking at her with a big, loving smile. “Ethan…?” He walked towards her, gazing at her intently, lovingly.
When Ethan reached Pippa’s side, by the big window which framed her lovely self, he got something from his pocket, and knelt before her on one knee. “Pippa, will you marry me? Share the adventures of a lifetime with me, please.” He finally managed to say, amid the fast beating of his heart and his hands that suddenly got so clammy. He waited for Pippa’s answer.
Pippa was so surprised at Ethan’s proposal, than she was unable to react right away. She never thought that Ethan is planning this! Now she understood why he went missing in the mall. He went out to buy her an engagement ring. She swallowed for she is suddenly breathless, her throat constricted, staring at Ethan’s. This is what she had prayed for in the church, but she never expected that her prayers would be answered this fast!
“Pippa…..” Ethan said softly, getting more nervous, starting to think that maybe his proposal is too soon. But he has never been surer in his life than this.
Pippa knelt also, touched Ethan’s beloved face. “Yes, Ethan, I will, gladly.” She managed to say as tears of happiness started flowing from her beautiful, expressive eyes.
Guiding Pippa up, Ethan stood up, then gently wiped Pippa’s tears away. “Thank you with all my heart, Pippa darling. Promise, it will be my goal in life to make you happy always. Everyday with you would be a wonderful adventure that would last a lifetime, our lifetime!” He then put the beautiful ring on Pippa’s finger, slowly, lovingly. It was a perfect fit. He then raised her hand to his lips and kissed it. “I love you will all my heart, with all of me, and with all that I could give you to make you happy and loved always.”
“Ethan, Ethan, honey. You made me the happiest girl in the world. I love you very much, with all of me and all I can give you too. You are my life now. I am so looking forward to all our adventures together. It will be so wonderful with you by my side for always.”
With that, and amid the beautiful, blue sky, the panoramic view outside, and the centuries-old bell tower who already bore witness to a lot of things throughout its long history, Pippa and Ethan sealed their promise to each other with a kiss.
“Please send me an SMS, Ally, when you and Melissa land in Davao.” Ethan told his sister as they waited for their cousin to arrive and pick-up Allison from Pippa’s place Tuesday afternoon. Ally opted to go to Davao instead of joining Pippa and Ethan on their road trip throughout Northern Luzon.
“I will Ethan, don’t worry, please. That is the first thing I will do once when we reach Davao, I promise. I’m looking forward to spending time with Mum’s family there. Melissa said there are also a lot of beautiful places we can see in Davao and in other parts of Mindanao.” Ally assured her brother. “Just enjoy your trip with Pippa. I’m sure you are both looking forward to that. Then as agreed I will just see you two in Puerto Galera in three weeks time. I very much want to meet Pippa’s Mum and thank her too, for taking good care of you. She seems like a very lovely person, based on what you have told me, what Pippa had said, and what Mum had mentioned to me and Dad.”
“Yes, she is that and much more. She is like a mum to me too. Okay, I’ll see you then. You will like the Montenegros place in Mindoro. And seeing a bit of the country, you will understand why I’m staying here for good, aside from Pippa, of course.” Ethan said. “Hello to the family there. One day, I will find my way there also, with Pippa.”
“Please thank Pippa again for letting me stay. And brother dear, you are a very lucky person to have found that wonderful lady. Don’t let her go. Take good care of her.” Ally said, poking her brother affectionately on the chest. “I do understand why you want to stay here. But I think it is not about the place anymore, it is mostly because of Pippa. The place being so beautiful is just a bonus.”
“Yes, that’s true. And I will not let Pippa go. That I have decided, early on. Pippa is for keeps. She is my forever, Ally!” Ethan said, his eyes full of love for his girlfriend. “Basta, bridesmaid ka sa wedding namin ha!” He teased his sister.
“Wow, really Ethan! When are you planning to propose to her?” Ally said, smiling. She is happy for her brother. “I’m happy for you my dear brother. Of course, I will be. In fact, I will not talk to you anymore if I am not. But you better make sure that Mum and Dad can be there as well. They will strangle you, especially Mum, if you get married without them!” Ally teased. Of course, as much as their parents would like to be at the wedding, they will understand if Ethan marries without them.
“Of course, they will be there! They have to be there. I want to share that very happy day with them. As for when, I will propose to Pippa, I will do it at the right time and at the right moment.” Ethan said, smiling secretly. He had a plan already, but he needs to put a couple of things in motion before he could do so.
“Well, good luck brother dear. I wish you and Pippa all the happiness.” Ally hugged her older brother tight.
“Thank you, Ally.” Ethan replied. “I wish you will also find a love like what I have found with Pippa.”
“In due time, Ethan. Maybe, I will. You’ll never know, I might also find love in this beautiful country.” Ally said.
The house phone rang while brother and sister were hugging each other. Ethan answered the call. The receptionist informed him that a Melissa Benitez was at the lobby waiting for Allison Bowman.
Ethan helped Ally with her suitcase. Brother and sister went down to where their cousin was waiting. Melissa promised Ethan once again that she will take care of Ally who will be staying at her and her parents house, their Uncle Michael and Aunt Minerva. After Melissa and Ally left, Ethan went back to Pippa’s place to wait for her. Pippa had gone to work that morning to file her vacation leave and to attend to some last-minute stuffs before they can go on their road trip.
When they got home the night before they informed Ally about the change in their plans, that the Palawan trip has been cancelled, and they asked her where she would like to go. Ally told them that if that is the case, she will just go to Davao with Melissa to see the relatives, and they can just meet up somewhere, at some point. Ally said Melissa, and her parents too, issued the invitation to Ethan and her. However, she just told them, while talking to them on the phone that she will discuss it with Ethan first, as they had plans to go to Palawan. Maybe they can visit them before she goes back to London is another option.
Even when Pippa and Ethan assured Ally it is okay to tag along with them, she insisted on going to Davao instead. Ally assured them it is perfectly okay for her to go on her own, as going to Davao is really part of her plan. She has not been there since she was a kid. She also teased Ethan and Pippa about giving them a chance to really, really be with each other, with no one interrupting them. The three of them laugh, remembering the incident Sunday morning!
Ethan relented, and brother and sister agreed to meet in Mindoro a week before Ally returns to London. After Pippa left that morning, brother and sister discussed how best they can send the diary to Claudia’s mum. They agreed that it was best if Ethan give it to her in person, no matter how hostile she will be to him, judging by their previous interaction.
Ethan will have to go back to England to do it at some point. Ethan said he will discuss this with Pippa as he would like to ask if she can go with him. He wants Pippa to travel with him, as he would like his parents to meet her the soonest, hopefully as his fiancée if she will have him. His and Ally’s Mum and Dad are currently on a cruise so he will go back after they have returned from that. His going to England schedule will also depend on what Pippa would like to do next – if she will stay with her current job or do the blog, and freelance work. Pippa had mentioned that one of her options is to freelance. That way, she said, her time is more flexible.
Ethan spent the rest of the afternoon doing some preliminary work for Werner and his company so that he would be familiar with everything when he comes on board the following month. He also did some freelance work while waiting for Pippa to return home. He also worked on the design of Pippa’s blog and the back-ending or content management system. He is planning to buy her a domain name from the register that he uses, instead of starting with a free blog site there.
Pippa had shown Ethan some of the ideas for the blog she would like to have, from content, to the kind of design she is thinking of, and what she hopes to have in her page. Pippa has some very innovative ideas that Ethan feels will become big. She knows her social media, her digital media platform, and what people wants when they go online. Engagement is very important, she had told him when they were discussing it last night. He felt himself getting as excited as Pippa with this project. He believes that she has what it takes to make this blog fly.
Two hours later, and after cleaning the place, just tidying up, and putting the dirty clothes in the wash, Ethan received an SMS from Pippa, informing him that she was on her way home. Pippa arrived home carrying a take out bag from a Filipino restaurant near her place of work which has comfort food on its menu.
“Dinner!” Pippa said when she entered the apartment with a big smile. She gave Ethan a quick kiss on the lips. “Hi, honey! How have you been? Sorry, natagalan akong makabalik. Si Ally, nasundo na ba ni Melissa?”
“Hi darling!” Ethan said, hugging Pippa and kissing her, giving her a kiss that was longer than the kiss she gave him. “I missed you.” He whispered after they broke apart, both feeling flushed.
“Yes, Melissa picked up Ally, as scheduled. Probably by now the two of them are in the mall, doing some last-minute shopping or having one more night out since hapon pa naman ang flight nila. As for me, I have been busy with all sorts of things. How about you? Kumusta ang meeting mo with your boss?”
“Okay naman. She agreed to me taking a month’s off!” Pippa said happily as she started preparing their dinner. “Imagine, one month na laid back lang! I haven’t done this since I started working. The best thing is I will be spending it with you. I have more to tell you, but let’s eat first. Nagutom ako sa office. Alanganin na rin if I will eat pa there. Besides, I wanted to hurry home.”
“Okay, dinner first. But I’m happy about your boss allowing you that month’s leave.. I’m so looking forward to our road trip!” Ethan said, putting his hands over Pippa’s. “So, tomorrow, tuloy tayo in buying the supplies we will need for the trip?”
“Yes, I’m officially on vacation starting tomorrow.” Pippa replied, then suddenly looked around and realized something looked different. “Thanks a lot for tidying up the place. I just realised. Kanina ko pa iniisip na parang may naiba. Hindi ko na naasikaso kaninang umaga na mag-tidy up.”
“Oh that, it was a small thing. I was not so busy and I’m used to doing that naman in London.” Ethan replied as he seated Pippa. Besides, it is the least I could do for you.”
The two of them enjoyed their dinner, discussing the blog that Pippa would like to do. Ethan mentioned the initial work he had done that afternoon. He said he can show it to her later. They also chatted with Pippa’s mom. Tita Marianne called up earlier to ask how they are. They told her about heading to Mindoro in three weeks time, after their road trip and Ally’s vacation in Davao. Pippa’s mom was so happy to know that they will all go home.
While they were having coffee and dessert after their lovely dinner, Ethan mentioned to Pippa about his plan to go back to England, at some point, for a short spell to give the diary to Claudia’s mum.
“I agree with you and Ally. It is best that you do it in person. That way, wala na silang masasabi sa iyo. Besides, I think that way, magiging talagang super full closure na ang lahat for you. Somehow, it will make Claudia be at peace too kung nasaan man siya. Kung ano man ang maging reaction ng mum ni Claudia, nasa kanya na iyon. You have more than done your part.” Pippa said, putting her hand over Ethan’s. “Kailan mo balak umalis? Sasabay ka bang bumalik kay Ally sa London?”
“No, mauuna na si Ally. I don’t know yet, depends pa rin sa time. Besides, I’m hoping you can go with me.” Ethan said softly, gazing at Pippa. “Not in meeting Claudia’s mum, but go with me so I can introduce you to Mum and Dad as the love of my life, and we can also see the sights. Pero, depende pa naman iyon on what you would like to do after our road trip. Di ba, sabi mo iisipin mo pa kung babalik ka sa job mo or will do the blog full-time, as well as freelance?”
“Oh, that is what I wanted to talk to you about also. Di ba, I met with my boss? Nagpaalam na rin ako sa kanya. I have decided kasi na leave my work and do the blog and go freelance. This morning, nagkataon na tumawag iyong isang close friend ko noong college, asking how I am. We haven’t seen each other lately so we had coffee at the cafe near my office, and through the course of our conversation she asked if I’m interested in being her partner in a production company she is putting up. Isabel said she would like to do freelance work too! Imagine, nagkataon pa.”
“Really, what a coincidence! So what did you tell her?” Ethan said, waiting for Pippa’s answer.
“Well, I told her about my plans to start a blog and also to freelance. Isabel laughed at the pagkakataon. Pareho pala raw kami ng iniisip. Matagal na raw niya akong gustong kausapin, pero kanina lang siya talaga nagka-time. I told her I will seriously think about it as I have already made plans with you to take a vacation, then the blog, and I have yet to talk to my immediate superior.” Pippa said, then continued, “Just before I had my meeting with my boss, I have made up my mind na magpaalam na sa kanya verbally and not just go on vacation leave, but to leave the company na. I did naman. But she requested me if I could stay muna for a month after my vacation for proper turnover. Hahanap pa siya ng kapalit ko. Also she told me, should I change my mind during my vacation, I’m very much welcome to stay. Sabi niya file the vacation leave muna and we will discuss my other plan when I come back. So, that’s about it! What do you think?”
“I’m happy with whatever you will decide on eventually, darling. You do know that whatever your decision is, it’s okay with me, di ba? It is your life and I will just be there to support you in whatever you would like to do.” Ethan said. “Just take your time. Think about it thoroughly. You can certainly do that during our road trip and while we are sitting on a blanket in some nice quiet beaches up north. Nice, isn’t it. We can always head to London for Christmas or some other time.”
“Thank you for that, honey. But I have made up my mind on my way home, Ethan. I will just go with forming a production house with Isabel, pero I will stay pa for a month with my current job as requested by Ms. Tina.” Pippa said. “So, if you could wait two months before heading to England, then I would like to go with you, and meet your parents. I would like to see your other world, too.” Pippa said softly and lovingly, planting a soft kiss on Ethan’s lips. “Besides, I want to be there with you after you have given that diary to Claudia’s mum. Kahit man lang to hold your hand, or give you kiss after it is done.”
“Really, really! Lovely! I’m so happy to know, darling. Of course, I can wait two months, basta ang importante, makakasama kita.” Ethan said, grinning. Two months to put his plan into motion! He went to where Pippa was seated, held her gently by the shoulder so he can guide her to can stand up. When she did, he hugged her tight, lowered his mouth to hers, then gave her a searing kiss.
“I love you, you know, very much. I’m so looking forward to our life together!” He said cupping her face, while they were catching their breaths.
Pippa smiled at Ethan, a bit bemused at his last statement, but is very happy at his show of love. “I love you very much too, Ethan and I, too, looking forward to us being together.”
The two of them shared one more deep kiss, before they broke apart.
Ethan helped Pippa with the dishes soon after, then they stayed in the living room watching Iron Man 3 before they headed to bed.
“Good night, darling!” Ethan whispered as he hugged Pippa and pulled her closer to him after putting the blanket over them. His right arm hugging the underside of her breasts, their bodies fitting against each other, like two spoons. He needed to rein in his body’s physical reaction to Pippa’s nearness, as even if Pippa is now ready too to take their relationship to the physical level, they can’t, yet!
“Good night, honey!” Pippa said, trying to steady her heart and her physical reaction to Ethan’s arm around her, so near her breasts. She is so acutely aware of him since she admitted to him that she is ready to share that aspect of their relationship with him. She is looking forward to that. Unfortunately, they can’t still do anything about it at the moment. Maybe, in one or two days time, they can!
The following morning, Pippa and Ethan hit the mall as soon as it opened, buying stuffs for their trip. At some point, after several stores, Ethan told Pippa he needed to run an errand and he will just meet her at the Starbucks near the front entrance of the mall.
Unknown to Pippa, Ethan went to a jewelry shop he Googled the day before. He also measured one of Pippa’s rings she had left on her dresser for size. He already had an idea on what design he would like. He was lucky! He found a ring along the designs he likes and the store have it in Pippa’s size. It was the first thing that attracted his attention when he looked at the display. He paid for his purchase and put it in the bottom of the backpack he was carrying. When he went to the coffee shop, Pippa was already there.
“Sorry, Pip darling, natagalan ako.” Ethan said with a big smile as he slid into the chair opposite Pippa’s.
“It’s okay, Ethan. Did you finish your errand? Did you find what you were looking for?” Pippa asked.
“Errr, yes,” he said but did not elaborate. He just gave her a big smile. “Thanks for ordering for me,” he said, holding the latte that Pippa got for him, and taking a sip.
“Good.” Pippa said smiling, letting Ethan off the hook, even if she was curious at the bit of mystery surrounding his sudden departure from her side, knowing na hindi niya kabisado ang mall and all morning, magkasama sila sa lahat ng shops na pinuntahan nila. “So, off to our adventure tomorrow!”
“Yes! I’m excited about it. Basta we will take turns in driving, and we rest when we are tired.” Ethan said. Pippa offered to do it herself since she know the road more, but Ethan insisted they take turns as it would be grueling for her if she does all the long driving.
“Opo.” Pippa said, pinching Ethan’s cheek affectionately.” Sure ka ba na okay ka lang mag-drive?”
“Yes, I’ll be fine. Nahihirapan lang ako dito sa Manila, pero I’ll be okay paglabas natin ng Manila.” Ethan assured Pippa. “Besides, it will really be too tiring for you kung ikaw lang ang magmamaneho all throughout.”
The night before they discussed whether they will just drive or take the buses or a plane to the places they would like to see. They both agreed that it would be more fun and they have more time to see places off the beaten track and stumble upon interesting stuffs if they drive themselves. Besides they have more control of their schedule, that way.
Pippa and Ethan spent the rest of the day going around the mall, buying the third book in the Ken Follett’s trilogy than Ethan had been wanting in the process, and having dinner at one of the garden restaurants in it before heading home. Ally texted while they were having dinner, informing them that she and Melissa arrived safely in Davao and on their way to Melissa’s home. They went to bed early as they will leave for their trip early the following day.
For the initial leg of their trip, along the main highways, it was Ethan who drove. They switched places in La Union. Pippa drove until they reached Vigan, the first full stop of their road trip, ten hours after.
“So, what would you like to do first, eat an early dinner or check in to our hotel?” Pippa asked.
“Let’s go check in first. Base dito sa description ng hotel na napili natin, there is a place beside it that serves good food.” Ethan replied, reading from Pippa’s tablet.
“Okay, let’s do that.” Pippa said, driving on, after checking the direction they got from the hotel’s website.
“Wow, I really like this place!” Ethan said when they stopped at the address indicated in the map, which is that of a Spanish-era house converted into a hotel. “We chose well!”
Pippa looked closely, and she too, likes the place they have picked after checking from a travel website various reviews of places where they could stay while in Vigan. They checked in after asking the nice lady at the reception where they could park Pippa’s car for the duration of their stay in Vigan. Both Pippa and Ethan decided that they will take the local modes of transportation in exploring Vigan, and the car is just for long distance traveling.
That evening, after taking turns in the shower, Pippa and Ethan walked hand in hand towards the restaurant they were directed to by the nice lady at the reception. They had a wonderful dinner, ordering mostly Ilocano cuisine. Afterwards, hands intertwined, they took a stroll to the softly lit and beautiful Calle Criosologo and marveled at the beautiful Spanish-era houses there.
“This is just so perfect.” Ethan softy remarked, stopping in the middle of the nearly deserted street, and cupping Pippa’s face. “You, me, in this very lovely place! There is nowhere else I want to be, than here with you. I love you, Pippa.”
Cupping Ethan’s face too, Pippa whispered. “And there is nowhere else I want to be too, than here with you. I love you very much too, Ethan. I’m so lucky to have found you, so unexpectedly.”
The two of them gazed at each other lovingly, and then amid the beautiful old houses of a bygone era, they shared a tender kiss. They return to their hotel with arms around each other, their hearts overflowing with love and happiness.
“Happy, my darling Pippa?” Ethan asked as he and Pippa stood by the railings at the upper deck of a ferry that has been cruising around Manila Bay the past several hours, sipping their drinks and enjoying the beautiful night view before them. His arm was draped over her shoulders and Pippa was hugging him by the waist as she leaned against him.
Pippa and Ethan decided to cap their wonderful evening with a celebration of sorts, a Manila Bay cruise offering a sumptuous dinner and cocktails afterwards. They want to be their first evening as a couple a very memorable one. After reluctantly breaking off the sweet kiss they shared in front of the giant Ferris wheel in Star City, they decided to give the Surf Dance a miss. Instead they walked the length of Harbour Square and along the seawall there and beyond it, while holding hands – enjoying the feeling of being a couple, of loving each other – and drinking mocha frappes from the Starbucks there. They sat on the sea wall, when they found a good vantage point, feet dangling over the water side, with Pippa’s head on Ethan’s shoulder, enjoying the splendor of the Manila Bay sunset. While they were doing it, a ferry boat passed by and that gave them an idea on how they would like to end their wonderful and momentous day.
“Of course, who wouldn’t be happy, with us together like this. This is super happiness, Ethan. I never thought I would feel this way, that finally, I will be so happy like this.” Pippa replied as she sipped her margarita. “I love you, you know, very much, Mr. Ethan Bowman.”
Ethan grinned, then said lovingly, “I love very much too, Ms. Pippa Montenegro.” Ethan lowered his lips to Pippa’s and gave her a searing kiss. Pippa opened her mouth to receive Ethan’s kiss and just like his previous kisses, it felt like a volt of electricity hit her senses when their lips fused. He tasted of the rhum and Coke he have been drinking and so much more. “This has been the most wonderful day of my life! I’m so happy that you are now my girlfriend.”
They soaked in the view, mostly of the beautiful twinkling lights coming from the buildings along the bay, with the gentle sound of the water lapping against the slow moving boat adding to the beautiful evening atmosphere. Everything felt so peaceful. They stayed like that until the boat docked again at the ferry terminal near the Mall of Asia. Ethan and Pippa went back to where they parked the car, hand in hand, as if they didn’t want to be separated from each other’s body even for a several minutes. They headed home for the night.
While navigating the Saturday evening heavy traffic, Pippa marvelled on how life can really change, even in a span of several hours. She feels like she is on top of the world. Ethan felt that he can face anything with Pippa, loving him, even the content of Claudia’s diary. But he doesn’t want to think about the diary at that moment, his and Pippa’s very special night.
“What time do we need to be at the airport tomorrow?” Pippa asked Ethan as she opened the door of her unit more than an hour later. Thank God, no more Martin bothering her! “Ten o’clock ba ang dating ni Ally?”
“Yes, she said around that time. She will be landing at Terminal 2.” Ethan replied. “What time do we need to go there, travel time and all?”
“Hmmm, I was thinking, we should live Q.C. around 8AM kahit na Sunday bukas kasi ang alam ko may road construction malapit sa papuntang airport.” Pippa said, putting her bag down and heading to the kitchen, with Ethan in tow, to drink water. “Would you like something to drink, honey?”
“Just water too, Pippa darling.” Then he smiled. “So, I’m ‘honey’ to you. Hmmm, I like the endearment!”
Pippa blushed. This is the first time she used an endearment for a boyfriend. She never thought of it with her first boyfriend, and with Martin, she was not comfortable calling him with one. Maybe, it should have been a sign she had seen that their relationship was not for keeps. “Errr, yes. I think I prefer calling you, ‘honey’. But I like the way you call me darling in that accent of yours.” Pippa finished grinning, looking at Ethan lovingly.
Ethan walked towards Pippa. “Thank you wonderful Pip. You make me feel so alive. I love you, my darling.”
“I love you too, honey.” See, it is so easy to do say it with Ethan and it thrills her to say it to him.
Ethan caressed Pippa’s face lovingly, then cupped it and lowered his lips to hers. They shared another smouldering kiss that left them red on the face and catching their breaths. “Let’s go sleep.”
“Yes, let’s.” Pippa answered, her lips still tingling from Ethan’s kiss. She took hold of Ethan’s hand and they walked towards the direction of her bedroom.
“Errr, Pip, darling, can I stay with you again?” Ethan asked, suddenly unsure, which is ironic since they have shared a room when they were not yet officially in a relationship!
“Of course, honey!” Pippa said smiling. “Kaya nga dito tayo papunta sa room ko. Why don’t you just bring your bag over to my room. Ally can have the other room, para rin may privacy siya.”
“Really, it is okay with you?” Ethan needed to be sure as he very well know by now that Pippa, before him, has never shared a bed or a room with a guy before.
“Yes. I’m that comfortable with you, Ethan. I trust you too. I know that when something happens between the two of us, it is because we both want to, as you said.” Pippa said frankly. Maybe Ethan’s frankness is rubbing off her. But she feels better saying it. Ethan had already proven to her that he is not the type to take advantage and besides, she loves him to pieces. She also likes waking up with him beside her.
“I must have done something good somewhere in my chaotic, complicated past as now, I have you.” Ethan replied, feeling so humbled and very happy in the trust that Pippa bestowed in him. He promised himself that when, not if, something happens between Pippa and him, the initiative will have to come from her. He will not break her trust. He hopes he will have the strength to do so. He wants Pippa very much, but he can wait. “Thank you, Pippa.”
Pippa gave Ethan a sweet, trusting smile. “You first in the bathroom. You are faster. I take a bit of a time in the bathroom.”
Ethan took a quick shower and several minutes after, he was out with droplets of water still clinging to his face, a towel wrapped around his waist. Pippa gulped, liking what she saw. “It’s your turn now, darling.” He said with a big smile, seemingly unaware of the effect of his barely-clad body on Pippa’s senses.
Pippa hurried to the bathroom. Ethan rummaged into his bag and looked for something to wear. He found his favorite well-worn t-shirt and pair of gray boxer shorts. He leaned against the headboard to wait for Pippa to come out of the bathroom. He had a goofy smile on his face, remembering their Ferris wheel ride. Pippa came out of the bathroom wearing her usual sleepwear, a pair of shorts and a t-shirt several minutes after. When Ethan saw her, he thought to himself, that he need all his willpower to survive the night. She looks so fresh looking and very lovely even without a shade of make-up on. Unbeknown to Pippa, her simple clothes flatters her figure and made her look lovelier in Ethan’s eyes.
“Sorry, ang tagal ko ba?” Pippa asked Ethan, getting a bit self-conscious, especially the way he was looking at her with admiration in his eyes. “Sana nauna ka nang natulog. I know you are tired na rin.”
“No, you were not matagal naman. It’s okay. I wanted to wait for you.” Ethan said smiling. “Come, let’s go to sleep.” He turned down the comforter and made space for Pippa.
Pippa took the right side of the bed. Ethan slid down and put his arms around Pippa. “Good night, Pip. Sweet dreams, darling.” He hope he will be able to sleep soon as Pippa’s wonderful smell and softness suddenly has the biggest effect on his senses.
“Good night, honey.” Pippa said softly, then gave Ethan a soft kiss on the lips, then settled into the crook of his left arm. He smells so nice. She can stay like that forever.
Several minutes after, Pippa was asleep. While Ethan on the other hand, can’t. He was waiting for his body to settle down. Otherwise, he would be needing a cold shower. Good thing that Pippa didn’t notice his body’s reaction to her. He tried to relax, and half an hour later, he too fell asleep, Pippa comfortably cradled like a babe in his arms. He kissed Pippa affectionately before sleep claimed him. She moved a bit and burrowed deeper into his chest and that made him feel content.
“Rise and shine, beautiful Pip.” Ethan said cheerfully the following morning while looking at a still sleeping Pippa, carrying a tray. He woke up at seven o’clock on his own. He decided to make a treat for Pippa by making her breakfast. He found some a pack of muesli in Pippa’s food cupboard. He also found yogurt in the fridge. He made coffee and juice and decided to wake up Pippa with his simple offering, a way of pampering and thanking her for taking care of him.
Pippa slowly opened her eyes. The first sight she saw was Ethan carrying a tray and she can see two steaming cups of coffee in it and other stuffs. “Good morning, honey. You are up very early.” She smiled at him sweetly, looking so beautiful lying on the bed with her legs and upper body exposed and even with her hair tousled. Then she looked at the clock as she rose and leaned against the headboard. “Oh, not so early after all! I overslept.”
“I made you breakfast. I just fixed it though, and didn’t cook. You know how I am in the kitchen. Good thing, I found muesli in your cupboard. I hope this is okay.” Ethan put the tray on Pippa’s lap then sat beside her. He handed Pippa her coffee, then lightly kiss her on the lips. “Good morning.”
“Thank you for this Ethan.” Pippa said, touched by Ethan’s effort. Before she took a sip of her coffee, she kissed him lightly too. Then she started putting portions of food on the two bowls that Ethan brought with him. They ate a leisurely breakfast, chatting and planning what they will do that day with Ally, then also the following day.
“I almost forgot, the trip to Palawan has been moved to Tuesday, Ethan. My associate producer texted yesterday. Which is a good thing, as you were supposed to go to Werner’s office tomorrow di ba?” Pippa said. “Bettina said the celebrity we are interviewing has an emergency and can only accommodate us from Wednesday onwards.”
“Oh yes, I forgot about that!” Ethan said, with all the wonderful things that had happened between him and Pippa, he completely forgot about Werner and the office visit. “Then it worked perfectly well then! Will the delay not affect your airing date?”
“If it is only a day or two, not really, though the editors will have to work double time due to the delay. But it is still manageable.” Pippa explained. “Anyway, the editors can also work first on the Batangas shoot, then saka na lang itong sa Palawan.”
“Lovely then. I’m looking forward to watching your pilot episode.”
Pippa and Ethan got ready for their trip to the airport after they have finished their breakfast. Two hours later, they were sitting at the coffee shop at the left side of Terminal 2, waiting for Ally’s plane to land.
Pippa is both nervous and happy at Ethan’s sister’s coming. Happy for Ethan, as he told her that he and Ally are very close and that he is looking forward to spending some time with his sister whom he had not seen in more than six months. And the same time, Pippa is nervous on how Ethan’s sister would react to the fact that she is his girlfriend now. Ethan told her on the way to the airport that he has never gotten around to telling Ally about her and his feelings for her as the phone conversation they had was a short one. But Ethan said, he knows Ally would like her a lot. He also said he hopes she will like his sister. Pippa assured him that she will. The rest of the travel to the airport was spent with Ethan telling Pippa about his and Ally’s childhood.
“Should we check if her plane has landed. It is now past 10AM.” Pippa suggested to Ethan. “Let’s wait for her near the entrance where I think most of the passengers are coming out.”
With coffee in hand, they walked to the area where other people are waiting. Soon after, a steady stream of people came out of the glass door near the waiting area. Ethan scanned the faces in the crowd, saw his sister and waved vigorously at her.
“Ethan, so lovely to see you again. I missed you dear brother.” Ally said when she reached the area where Pippa and Ethan are. She hugged her brother tight.
“Lovely to see you too, Ally!” Ethan said with a big smile. Then he looked at Pippa and brought her to his side, hugging her by the waist. “Pippa, meet my sister Ally.” Then to his sister, he said, “Ally, this is Pippa, my girlfriend and the daughter of Mum’s friend, Tita Marianne.”
Pippa smiled at Ethan’s sister. “Hello Ally! I hope you had a good flight!” Ethan’s sister is very lovely and she looks like a female version of Ethan. She saw that Ally was startled when Ethan introduced her as his girlfriend, but she recovered fast.
“Hello, Pippa. Lovely to meet you!” Ally said smiling reservedly. She is a bit like that with people she just met. But she warms up fast when she sees that everything is okay. She has a lot of questions for her brother. It looks like he had really moved on with the beautiful girl by his side. He looks like a man very much in love. He was never like that with Claudia. Yes, she was surprised as Ethan didn’t even mention about having a new girlfriend, but that’s about it. Pippa seems nice enough and she is not a stranger to the family. She is after all her Mum’s friend’s daughter. “The flight was uneventful. A bit tiring though. I want real food after all the airline food I ate. I’m looking forward to eating some Filipino food.”
“Oh, then Ethan and I should bring you to Maginhawa Street! Plenty of Pinoy food to choose from.” Pippa said. “Shall we get going then. Stay here, the two of you, I will just get the car so that you don’t have to drag your luggage to the parking lot.”
“Pip, darling, I can go with you.” Ethan offered, walking towards Pippa. “Ally can you stay here, we will back fast.” He told his sister.
“No , honey, just stay here and keep your sister company and catch up with her. I’ll be fine and I can manage.” Pippa assured Ethan. “Ally, I will be back in a couple of minutes.”
“Thank you, Pippa.” Ally smiled at Pippa more warmly, at the same time, processing with interest the exchanged of terms of endearment between Pippa and her brother.
With a final wave at Ally and Ethan, Pippa walked to the parking lot.
“Hmmmm, there is a lot I don’t know, brother dear.” Ally said as she looked at Pippa’s departing figure which was followed by several male admiring glances. She does look very lovely. Maybe she is a fashion model, she mused. She carries herself well and dresses well. “When we chatted you didn’t mention that you have a new girlfriend! How long have you been together?”
“Because sister dear, at that time, she was not my girlfriend. She only agreed to be my girl yesterday.” Ethan said, smiling happily. “She made me the happiest guy yesterday. She is a very lovely person, inside out and I know you will like her. And no, I’m not doing this just to move on. I could have done that eventually even without her. I just fell in love so unexpectedly to that wonderful girl.”
Hearing her brother, Ally’s initial impression was correct. Her brother is really, really in love for the first time in his life. He sounded different. “Well, I’m happy for you Ethan. You obviously love her a lot. I hope she feels the same way. I don’t want to see you get hurt again.”
“Don’t worry on that aspect, Ally. Pippa is different from Claudia. She is so giving and she does not go into a relationship lightly. Just be happy for me and Pip.”
“Of course, I do. She seems like a lovely girl. Have you told her about Claudia?” Ally asked.
“Yes, I found myself telling her what happened. I was drawn to her from the start. She had help me enormously to heal, Ally. She is one of a kind.” Ethan finished, his voice full of emotion.
“Really, you did. Then you must think the world of her. You even opened up to her. I’m glad and happy that you found someone like her, Ethan.” Ally hugged her brother affectionately. “So, did you meet in Mindoro? Through her mother? I would like to see the resort where you are staying.”
“Okay, I will tell you more later. But maybe, you should ask Pippa too, and the two of us can tell you about our love story this evening. We are staying at her flat in Quezon City. And yes, Tita Marianne is looking forward to meeting you too.”
“Oh, I thought you had booked us in a hotel. Would it not be a bother, the two of us staying there? Maybe she has other things to do.” Ally said, not wanting to be a bother and beside she does not want to be a third wheel, especially that Ethan and Pippa are just starting their relationship. “Besides, you two just got into a relationship, maybe I’ll be a third wheel. I can stay in a hotel.”
“No worries about staying there. It was Pippa who offered. Besides, I like staying and being with her. She is the reason why I am in Manila currently. She left Mindoro several days ago and I missed her a lot.” Ethan said. “But you are very much welcome to stay there too. Saka, we will go to Palawan with her. She will be working for several days, but after that we can all spend time together.”
“Okay, then, if you are sure.” Ally smiled, happy to spend time with her brother and the lady who made him fall in love for real. “Oh, there’s Pippa. Shall we get going.”
Ethan carried Ally’s suitcases and put in the trunk of Pippa’s car. Ally got into the back seat and Ethan in front.
“Pippa, Ethan said I will be staying in your place too. Thank you very much for putting us up. You are such a lovely person.”Ally said. She has a feeling that she and Ethan’s new girl will become fast friends, unlike she and Claudia. “I’m looking forward to the Palawan trip too.”
“You’re welcome Ally. I’m happy to have you and Ethan in my place.” Pippa smiled at Ally, then looked lovingly at Ethan. “Shall we get going?”
“Okay, darling, and thank you for everything.” Ethan said sweetly, putting his hand on top of Pippa’s, before she put the car to drive, and caressing her a bit. He is just so happy. No matter what Claudia’s diary reveals, he knows he can take it, with Pippa by his side.
Ethan and Pippa smiled lovingly at each other. Ally, seeing this, hopes that this is for keeps and whatever is in Claudia’s diary will not mar the beautiful relationship she was witnessing.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.