KATULAD ng nakaraang araw, nagmukmok siya sa kuwarto. Simula nang umalis si Hercules, hindi na siya lumalabas ng bahay. Ayaw niyang humarap sa kahit na sinuman. Kumalat kaagad ang balitang iniwan siya ni Hercules dahil nakipagbalikan ito sa ng ex-girlfriend nito. And she’s too tired seeing people whispering when she passes by. She felt so sick of it. Ilang beses siyang binisita ng mommy ni Hercules. Nakikiusap na kausapin siya. But she can’t give her any explanation how things happened. Kaya hindi niya ito hinarap. Hindi niya kaya. Alam niyang iiyak lang siya. Ayaw niyang makakita ng kahit na anong bagay na nakakapagpapaalala sa kanya ng binata para kahit papaano’y hindi niya maalalang nasasaktan siya. She’s trying so hard to forget how much she is hurting. She even stopped dancing.
Niyakap niya ang sarili. Hindi niya alam kung hanggang kailan siya magiging ganito. It’s been three days since Hercules left her and the tears never stopped from falling. There were times she just hugs herself at night because her heart is in too much pain and she didn’t know how to hold herself up. And just like when Lemuel left her for Wynona, she cried hard in her mother’s arms. But unlike before, nothing could seem to soothe the pain she feels inside. The hollow inside is so big that every breath hurts and moving on seems the most difficult thing in the world to do.
Kahit sa mismong silid niya, naaalala niya ito. Hercules stayed that night she asked him to stay. Looking back, she wished she just asked for him to stay forever. Maybe they had a chance… but Hercules really left her. It just hurts so much knowing that she didn’t matter to him at all. He just left without even hearing her out. And he’s together with his ex-girlfriend. They might even got married now. Gumuhit ang pait sa dibdib niya sa naisip. She needs to move on now. Pero hindi niya alam kung papaano. Nakagat niya ang labi para pigilan ang hikbi. Letting go of the love she felt for Hercules is tearing her apart. She wonders how long can she endure this… this piercing pain that seemed to be triggered everytime she breathes. She hardly sleeps at night thinking how will she able to get through every tomorrow.
“Anak, may bisita ka,” anang ina na kinatok siya.
Mabilis niyang pinahid ang luha. “M-Masama po ang pakiramdam ko, Ma.”
Nagulat siya nang biglang bumukas ang silid. Mabilis siyang nagtalukbong ng kumot. Ayaw niyang makita siya ng ina niya na umiiyak na naman. “Pabalikin n’yo na lang po bukas.”
Narinig niyang napabuntong-hininga ang ina. Narinig niya ang yabag nito papalapit at umupo sa kama niya.
“O-Okay lang po ako,” aniyang pilit pinatatag ang tinig, “Sinipon na naman ako dahil sa alikabok sa silid.”
Subalit nanatili itong nakaupo. Namagitan sa kanila ang katahimikan ng matagal hanggang sa magsalita ito.
Natigilan siya sa narinig. Ganoon na lang ang pagsalsal ng tibok ng dibdib. Mabilis niyang inalis ang kumot nang marinig ang boses na iyon. Ilang beses siyang napakurap. Hindi nga siya nagkakamali, si Hercules nga ang nakaupo sa gilid ng kama niya. Tila hindi siya makapaniwalang nasa tabi lang niya ang binata. Her mouth opened up but she couldn’t say anything. For a long time she just stared at him, wanting to hug him but stopped herself. Until she finally found her voice.
“A-Ano’ng g-ginagawa mo rito?” she sounded so broken… well, she is. Ilang sandali pa’y nanubig ulit ang mga mata niya. Does Hercules know how much she has gone through loving him? Does he even care? She doesn’t want him to see how she’s hurting. Mariin niyang kinagat ang labi para pigilan ang paghikbi. Ang sakit-sakit ng dibdib niya. At hindi niya alam kung papaano ito haharapin at magkunwaring okay lang ang lahat sa kanya.
HERCULES looked at Jane. He just realized how much he missed her that it pains him to just sit there and do nothing. But he’s in point blank. Hindi niya alam kung saan magsisimula, kung papaano sisimulan. Kung tama pa ba ang pag-iisip niya o tuluyan na siyang nabaliw dahil sa pag-ibig para sa dalaga dahil handa siyang sumunod sa kahit na anong gustuhin nito.
“I forgot something,” pormal na sabi niya. He tried to breathe hard. The pain stings… I forgot that my heart is with you and I couldn’t live a damn day without it, gusto niyang sabihin. Humugot siya ng malalim na hininga. “I forgot…” Napalunok siya dahil tila may bumikig sa lalamunan niya.
“What?” anito na naghihintay ng sasabihin niya.
“I forgot that my heart is with you and I couldn’t live a damn day without it,” nasabi niya. He didn’t stutter. He finally said it. Nakita niyang napaawang ang bibig nito. “So if you ask how I was the past three days, I was barely breathing. I wasn’t even sure if I was really living. Dahil…” Naramdaman niyang nanginig ang labi niya. He held back his tears. “Dahil hindi ko pala kayang malayo sa’yo.” tapat na sabi niya. Tila may pumiga sa dibdib niya nang humulagpos ang luha sa mga mata nito. “Kaya okay lang…” aniyang mapait na ngumiti. Napahugot siya ng hininga. “Kahit anong gusto mo, okay lang.” He sounded desperate. Because he is desperate. He tried moving on. But it was impossible. Dahil bawat segundo, nararamdaman niya ang sakit. And he would give up everything just to be with her. Even if they’d be faking, it’s okay as long as he got her. Kahit hindi na siya nito mahalin basta pwede niya itong mahalin. Okay lang. He doesn’t care about anything anymore. He doesn’t want to care for anything but Jane. Kaya kahit masakit na papakasalan lang siya nito dahil sa pera, tatanggapin niya dahil wala ng sasakit pa sa bawat araw na hindi niya ito kasama. He’ll have to grab the chance to be with her. If she finally leaves her, that’s when he will mourn. But now, he’ll take the risk.
“Ano’ng okay lang? Pwede ba Hercules, hindi kita maintindihan!”
Inabot niya ang espayong nasa pagitan nila at niyakap niya ito ng mahigpit. He felt the hollow in his heart slowly filling in when he held her. God, he missed this. This closeness that makes his every breath worthwhile. He expected her to push him back but she didn’t so he hugged her tighter. “Hindi ko kayang malayo sa’yo, Jane. Hindi ko kayang dalhin ang bigat sa dibdib.” Hinalikan niya ang buhok nito. “Please give me a chance to be with you. Gagawin ko ang lahat mapasaya ka lang. Kung gugustuhin mo ng magpakasal kay Lemuel, hindi kita pipigilan. Pero hayaan mo muna akong mahalin ka. Kahit saglit lang.”
Galit na itinulak siya ng dalaga. “Bakit naman ako magpapakasal sa kanya?!” sigaw nito. “Tanga ka ba talaga, Hercules o sadyang manhid ka lang? Hindi ako magpapakasal sa kanya dahil unang-una, wala na kami. Pangalawa, hindi ko siya mahal. Pangatlo, dahil ikaw ang mahal ko!” anito at tuluyang humulagpos ang luha sa mata. “Do you have any idea how difficult it is to love you? I begged you not to leave me pero iniwan mo pa rin ako, alam mo ba kung gaano kahirap ang lahat nang umalis ka? You broke my heart, and now you’re telling me you love me? Ano ba talaga? Nasasaktan ako, Hercules! At nalilito na ako sa’yo!” puno ng paghihirap ang mata nito.
He wanted to kill himself that instant. He finds it hard to digest what he just heard. It’s far different from what he expected. Nanatili siyang nakatitig sa dalaga. “Y-You love me?”
Kinagat nito ng mariin ang labi. Pigil-pigil ang hikbi. “You already knew that, didn’t you? I told you how I felt for you that day you left me. Dahil ayoko ng magpanggap. Dahil totoo na lahat ng nararamdaman ko sa’yo. Dahil gusto kong malaman kung kaya mo rin ba akong mahalin dahil ako, mahal kita. But you got mad. Hindi ko maintindihan kung bakit. I thought… I thought you could like me. Kahit konti lang. But you left me without even hearing me out…” Pinahid nito ang luha.
“I thought you were lying… I thought… I saw you kissing Lemuel.”
Natigilian ito. “You saw that?” anito na biglang bumaba ang tinig. Tumango siya, pinilit itago ang sakit sa dibdib. “He kissed me. But i did not kiss him back. You could ask Maricar. She saw everything.”
“Wynona told me you’ve planned on marrying me and divorce me afterwards after…” He cursed under his breath, now he just realized, why didn’t he think that Wynona could lie?
“After I get your money?” bumalot ang sakit sa mata nito. May inabot ito sa drawer. It’s the twenty million check. “I told you don’t need this.”
Umiling siya. Niyapos niya ulit ng mahigpit ang dalaga. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry I didn’t listen to you. I was too hurt. Too damn jealous. I was losing my mind that time after what I saw and heard.”
“Sana sinabi mo,” anitong gumaralgal ang tinig. “I thought you were mad when I told you I love you. I thought you can’t just love me back that’s why you left. I thought you’re back with your ex. I was going crazy with all those thoughts, Hercules,” anitong impit na napahikbi.
It’s too much. Kinabig niya ito at buong pagmamahal itong hinalikan. Her tears is breaking him apart. Niyakap niya ito ng mahigpit. This is what he needs. He loves her so much and it hurts him more now seeing how hurt she is for loving him. How could he do that to the only woman he loves?
THIS isn’t a dream. Kumbinsi ni Jane sa sarili habang yakap-yakap at buong-pusong tumutugon sa bawat halik at haplos ng binata. Hercules is kissing her like he missed her as much as she missed him. Kapwa sila naghahabol ng hininga nang maghiwalay ang mga labi. She can’t help her tears but fall. She just loves Hercules so much.
“I missed you so much,” anito at niyakap siya ng buong higpit. “I’m sorry if I hurt you, Jane.”
Gumanti siya ng yakap. Nang angkinin nitong muli ang labi niya’y hindi siya tumutol. She missed him so much, too. No words could ever describe how much. All she knows is that she doesn’t want to let him go. She will never let him go.
When the kiss ended they were both in tears. Something tugged Jane’s heart. It must’ve been hard for Hercules after what Wynona could’ve told him.
“You believed in Wynona’s lies, huh?” bakas ang hinanakit sa tinig niya.
“I was damn too hurt to even think of anything else, Jane. I was in so much pain after what I saw. A huge part of me is hoping against hope that Wynona was lying. I never want to believe in that. But that is the one closest to reality. Because I never thought you’d love me. And that was painful, Jane. That was really painful.”
Her heart sank as she saw the pain in his eyes. And she found herself sobbing, not because of the hurt she feels for herself but for what Hercules had been through. Hercules loves her.
Kinabig siya ni Hercules at niyakap ng mahigpit. “I’m so sorry I believed in her lies. I’ll make sure she’s gonna pay for this.”
Hindi na siya nagsalita pa. She could feel his anger. She just wants to savor this moment being held by him. She felt coming back into life when she saw him. “I’m so glad you’re back.” aniyang sumiksik sa dibdib nito. She missed this kind of comfort only Hercules can give her.
“I just can’t bear to lose you,” anitong nakatitig sa mukha niya. “You are the best there is in my life,Jane. So I took the risk of coming back. I’ve always longed to be with you. Since the first day we met… when we were yet young. I have loved you. And I never stopped loving you since then. And I don’t wanna stop. I can bear the pain of loving you, but living without you is impossible. Not now that I knew how it felt to be really alive being with you.”
“You love me since w-we were young?” tanong niyang hindi makapaniwala.
“I’m M-Miss CC?”
Ngumiti ito saka muling tumango.
Unti-unti lumabo ang paningin niya. That’s why all those scenes were familiar. Napatingin siya kay Hercules. May payatot na binatang nandoon palagi kasama ng crush niya. Si Ace ang matinee idol ng school na crush ng lahat ng girls at gays sa school. She used to follow where Ace goes. And now she remembers, that time they showed off skateboarding, napapalakpak siya sa galing ni Ace. At nang ang payatot na binata na’y hindi na niya masyadong napansin. Nabaling lang ang pansin nila nang bumagsak ito at dumugo ang baba nang tumama sa sementadong daan. She just felt sorry for him and didn’t bother to give him a second look dahil takot siya sa dugo. And during that karate try out, napapalakpak siya dahil si Ace ang nagpatumba sa payatot na binata na ka-sparring nito. He was rushed to the hospital and she cared less. And during that cheerdance, they were so happy they won. Ace was the star player then, she never took time who’s inside the mascot. Sumikip ang dibdib niya. Tila hindi niya makayanan ang sakit na nararamdaman ng dibdib niya. Hercules had gone through so much pain loving her. She wished she had noticed him way back then… because she right now, she felt so sorry for the times she wasn’t able to spend with him.
Bumalong ang luha sa mga mata niya. She threw herself on him and hugged him tight. And she cried so hard in his arms. She remembered the night he proposed and the night he confessed his love for his first love. His life almost revolved around her. It’s not a coincidence that he knew a lot about her. So he wasn’t pretending, was he? Those kisses, the warm hugs, those were real. Those ‘I love yous’. The proposal. Everything was real after all. And she felt that pain she felt when Hercules confessed her feelings for his first love. Tila pinipiga ang puso niya sa sinabi nito. Hearing Hercules now, her hurt seemed nothing compared to what he feels. He had loved her for so long. So very long. That’s why he knew her favorite flower and her favorite chocolate. That’s why he seemed to have known her for so long… because he did knew her by heart.
“Ang sama-sama mo,” aniyang pinaghahampas ito habang walang tigil ang hikbi. “Matagal mo na pala akong mahal, bakit hindi mo man lang sinabi?”
“Hindi mo ba naramdaman iyon? Araw-araw ginagawa ko ang lahat mapasaya ka lang. How could you not know?”
“Yeah, but you never said you love me! You always made me feel that you didn’t like me. That it’s impossible for you to love me because I’m just a pretty face. Na kahit anong gawin ko, hindi mo ako magugustuhan. That I am nothing but a woman after your ten million. I even begged for you to love me Hercules. But you left me! Do you know how I felt that night? I felt rejected! Pakiramdam ko naghahabol ako sa isang taong takbo ng takbo! How in the world would I know?”
“I stopped because I couldn’t do it… Because I took advantage of you. I love you so much that I didnt want you to make decisions you would regret. Do you know how hard was that? Do you have any idea how painful was that?” Nahilamos nito ang mukha pagkuwa’y napatitig sa kanya. “All my life, all I ever wanted was love you. I’ve dreamed of kissing you, of making love to you. But I just didn’t do it because I wasn’t sure about your feelings for me. I don’t want you to hate me. That’s why I stopped. Even when I wanted to kill myself after that.”
Her heart is filled so much emotion she couldn’t contain. “Hug me,” aniya sa pagitan ng hikbi.
“I am hugging you.”
“Tighter.” aniya at sumandal sa dibdib nito. Niyakap siya ito ng buong higpit at umiyak siya sa dibdib nito. Hercules loves her like no other man can or could ever do. She felt the kind of happiness that is so rare she just wants to cry. She’s so happy and so sad for all that Hercules went through just because of loving her. “I’m so sorry for all the pains I’ve caused you,” aniyang hinaplos ang mukha nito. “It was not easy loving me, was it?”
“It wasn’t easy but you don’t need to be sorry. You are the best thing that ever happened to me, Jane. You made me feel that kind of happiness that I never felt for anyone. You are worth every emotion. My life had its full worth when I started to love you. And I loved every moment of it.”
Ngumiti siya. Muling tumulo ang luha. “I wished I had met you when I was younger. I wished I realized that soon that I was in love with you. Because I feel the same way, Hercules. I never thought I could feel an emotion as strong as this. I wished I’ve loved you before because this feeling I am feeling right now is something worth keeping forever. I’ve never loved anyone as much as I love you. I’ve come to realize that my life won’t be complete without you so please, promise me you won’t ever leave me again.” Hinawakan niyang muli ang mukha nito. And she could smile staring at the most handsome face she wants to stare forever. “I love you so much.”
Hercules’ eyes were misty. Nanginginig ang labi nitong tinitigan ang dalaga. Those were the loveliest words he heard in his whole life. “I love you more, Jane. Yesterday, today and every tomorrow, I know my love will remain the same. You don’t know how you made me happy today. I’m so glad I came back. I thought anywhere far from you would be better. But I felt like hell. I couldn’t stand being away from you. Missing you was one thing I don’t want to go through again. I promise I will never leave you. I won’t let anyone come between us anymore. I will always believe in you no matter what happens.”
“Neither would I. Hindi ko hahayaang iwanan mo ako ulit. Dahil mahal kita. Mahal na mahal na mahal kita.”
“Keep saying that,” anitong inangkin ang labi niya. Gumanti siya ng halik. She kissed him like the way she did when he told her aboit his first love. Kapwa sila humihingal nang maghiwalay ang labi nila. Hercules stared at her and smiled knowingly. Umangat ang kilay niya.
“You’ve kissed me like this before,” anito. “When did you realize you love me?”
Nag-init ang magkabilang pisngi niya. “H-Hindi ko alam…” aniyang napa-isip. He’s staring at her more, enjoying her stutter. “But I’m quite sure hindi siya love at first sight.”
Tumawa ito. Nahawa siya. She missed the sound of their laughter together. And without a word, Hercules kissed her again.
“Maybe when I realized that life is so much better with you,” aniya pagkatapos ng halik. “And that realization started when you tried to protect me from Wynona. The feeling went stronger everytime we’re together. I just feel so happy when I’m with you. Mahal na mahal na mahal kita, Hercules Mondragon.” buong pusong sambit niya. “Kaya please, huwag mo na akong iiwan ulit. Kasi ang sakit-sakit dito,” aniyang itinuro ang dibdib.
Napangiti ito at masuyong hinagkan ang noo niya.“And I love you more and more and more Janina Ramos. The last thing I’d ever do is to leave you. Not now when I know you love me too.”
Napangiti siya. She feels so happy her heart would burst any minute.
“Marry me,” bigla’y sabay na sambit nila.
He looked stunned for a while. And his eyes got misty. And she was in tears too. Bigla itong tumayo sa kama at inilahad ang kamay sa kanya. “Let’s get married now,” seryosong sambit nito.
Namilog ang mga mata niya.
“Hindi pa ako naliligo,” aniya. Inamoy siya nito. “Okay naman, ah.”
Napatawa siya. Ibibigay na sana niya ang kamay nang may maalala. “Paano si Melinda?”
“I told you, it’s over between us. I loved her. And I,”
“Don’t give second chances,” pagtatapos niya sa sasabihin nito.
“Didn’t you just give me a second chance?” aniyang nakatikwas ang kilay.
Natigilan ito saka napangiti. “I guess you just break all the rules, Jane. I love you and I’ve never loved anyone as much as I loved you. But you, are you gonna marry someone as ugly as me?”
Hinawakan niya ang mukha nito at buong pagmamahal na tinitigan saka pinupog ng halik. “May magagawa pa ba ako kung mahal na kita?” aniya at tinitigan ito. Her heartbeat is beating wild. She never felt so fully alive. “I love you. I love the way you look. I love everything about you. Since then, I never see any ugliness in you. So yes, kahit pangit ka sa mata ng iba, magpapakasal ako sa’yo dahil mahal na mahal kita Hercules.”
Tila kinikilig na napangiti ito saka siniil ng halik ang labi niya. “Let’s get married then,” anitong muling inilahad ang mga kamay.
She’s ready for it. He’s all that she wants and all she’ll ever need. Ibinigay niya ang kamay.
For Hercules, this moment is a dream come true. And he will treasure the woman that he loves in his heart for always.
The moment they held hands, they both knew they will hold hands forever.
Thank you so much for the time you have spent for reading Hercules and Jane’s love story. Sana na-inlove kayo kahit papaano. Salamat sa nag-give up ng gils para lamang mabasa ang kuwentong ito. Sa mga naghintay every chapter, sorry if hindi ko kayo napagbigyan kahit bumaha na ng ‘pleaseee next chap na please!’ may schedule po kasi tayong sinusunod kaya ipagpaumanhin ninyo kung nabitin kayo ng ilang araw. I know how hard it is to wait. I just hope this was worth every wait. At sa mga walang sawang nagbibigay ng komento. It makes me smile reading all your comments. Kung nag-aabang kayo ng next chapter, nag-aabang ako ng comments. Every writer hopes for nice feedbacks, but it is so much better if they are honest feedbacks. So don’t hesitate giving out your comments. It makes us feel happy and fulfilled, it makes us grow and become better.
This story is actually a risk. It’s a different one. Dahil kailanman, wala pang bidang pangit. Pangit talaga si Hercules. But Jane fell in love with him. Because Beauty isn’t everything, LOVE IS. Ganoon kasimple, at ganoon kalalim. What you see beyond ones’ appearance is what mattered most. I also believe that all of us are created beautiful. May more at most beautiful nga lang, but all of us are beautiful. Kaya hindi imposible ang storyang ito na mangyari sa totoong buhay.
So much for that, I wanna thank my TOP family for allowing me to post another story. They have always believed in me and I am so grateful for each opportunity to share my stories. Sana patuloy ninyong suportahan ang TOP.
God bless us all!
Muli, ang aking lubos na pasasalamat,