A Promise Not To Break: Chapter 13

This entry is part 15 of 18 in the series A Promise Not To Break

“ARE you ready?” tanong sa kanya ni Mael bago sila pumasok sa restaurant kung saan niya napagdesisyunang kausapin ang kanyang mga magulang.

“No,” sagot niya rito. “But let’s go.”

“Hold my hand,” wika nito sa kanya. She did.

**


Hapô ang katawan na pumasok si Prie sa kanyang apartment.  As she sat down on her sofa, her head kept ringing with words her mother and father said to her. And she kept seeing the tear-stained images of her mother and father.

“Bakit hindi mo sinabi sa ‘min?”

“Pa…”

“Mga magulang mo kami!”

“Ma…”

The knock on her door took her out of her reverie. Nang buksan niya ang pinto, a bouquet of blue roses greeted her.

“Marry me, please,” sabi ng boses sa likod ng mga bulaklak.

“Dave?”

Ibinaba nito ang mga rosas. “I’m sorry about yesterday. You were right. I was just being a dickhead,” wika nito. “But I really do love you. And I want you to be my wife.”

“Oh, Dave…” madamdamin niyang sagot rito as she went to his open arms. “I love you. I love you.”

“So you’ll marry me?”

“I can’t—”

“What?”

Tinignan niya ito sa mga mata. “I can’t answer you now.”

Hinigpitan nito ang yakap sa kanya. “Why not?”

“Because I just can’t yet. Hindi mo ba ako pwedeng bigyan ng ilang araw?”

“Hindi mo ba ako mahal?”

“I do. I love you. But I just can’t answer you now.”

“Does it have something to do with that man?” galit na tanong nito sa kanya na ang tinutukoy ay si Mael.

Umiling siya. “Trust me.”

Sandaling tinitigan lamang siya nito. “When?” tanong nito sa kanya after a while.

“I’ll answer you after the concert. Fair enough?”

He was clearly not happy with it. “I trust you.”

“Thank you,” wika niya rito as she borrowed deeper into his embrace. I’m sorry. I’m sorry, Dave. “Dave?”

“Yes?”

“Stay with me tonight.”

**

Nagulat siya sa sinabing iyon ni Prie. After she just told him that she couldn’t answer him for now, she was suddenly asking him to stay the night?

“Ha?” tanong niya rito. He felt foolish.

“I’m asking you to stay tonight. Will you?”

“Bakit?”

“Ayaw mo?”

“I’d like to, but—”

“Good,” nakangiting wika nito at pagkatapos ay hinila siya nito papasok ng apartment. “Kumain ka na ba?”

“Why are you doing this, Prie? What’s wrong?”

“Nothing’s wrong. Gusto ko lang makasama ka tonight. Masama ba ‘yun?”

“But you just told me that you won’t have sex with—”

“Dave, ‘wag mo ngang paganahin ang pagiging pervert mo,” ganti nito sa kanya. “I want you to spend the night, but that doesn’t mean that I want to sleep with you.”

“What?”

“Remember that night you stalked me? Yung tatanga-tanga kang nagpunta dito ng walang sasakyan?”

“Ayan ka na naman, eh!”

“Remember?”

“Oo na. So?”

“So, this time, I’m giving you permission to sleep here.”

“Why?”

“Dahil—wala lang. Gusto ko. Ayaw mo?”

“Gusto.”

**

The tension was thick in the air. Kahit na nakafull-blast ang aircon, hindi niya mapigilang hindi magpawis. Prie was sleeping on the bed which is only a meter away from the fold-out bed he’s sleeping in. Hindi niya alam kung bakit siya tinotorture ng ganito ni Prie.

Sinipat niyang muli ang wall clock. Two o’clock. Hindi pa rin siya dalawin ng antok. Sinipat niya si Prie. She was sleeping a deep sleep. Tumayo siya at naupo sa gilid ng kama. Napakaganda nito. She was pale but she was still brimming with beauty in his eyes. Namayat ba ito? Her cheekbones seem to be more pronounced than when he last looked at her like this…

Sa laking gulat niya, bumukas ang mga mata nito.

“Dave?”

“I—I’m here. I just—babalik na rin ako sa—” Tatayo na sana siya ng maramdaman niyang hawak ni Prie ang t-shirt niya. “Prie?”

“Stay with me.”

He knew he must say no. But as he stared at her eyes, the words died on his lips and he lied down next to her.

“Just hold me, please. I—just hold me. Please.”

“I will.”

3:05 AM. She was sleeping well in his arms. The tell-tale smile on her lips told him that she was having a good dream. That was enough for him. It didn’t matter that he was having trouble sleeping because his libido wasn’t being cooperative. She’s okay—that’s enough for him.

3:30 AM. Sleep finally won over his libido. He slept with a smile on his face.

**

“Malelate na tayo, hon. Matagal ka pa ba?” dinig niyang sigaw ni Dave mula sa sala. Three hours left. Muli ay tinitigan niya ang kanyang repleksiyon sa salamin. She was pale even with all the makeup. Her eyes seems to be too bright. Maging ang pale pink lipstick niya ay hindi maitago ang pamumutla ng kanyang mga labi. Thankfully, the gown had flowing sleeves so hindi masyadong halata ang mga pasa niya na ginamitan niya ng concealer.

“You can do this,” wika niya sa imahe sa salamin. “You can do this, Priscilla. This is all for the best.”

“Hon?”

“Coming,” balik-sigaw niya. Dinagdagan niya pa ng kaunti ang kanyang blush-on. Nang sipatin niya muli ang kanyang repleksyon, she thought, This will have to do.

When she saw Dave’s expression as she descended the steps, her heart gave little flip-flops. With that look on his face, she knew she succeeded in looking her best.

“Isara mo kaya ‘yang bibig mo?” biro niya rito ng makalapit siya.

“I—ahm—Prie—”

“Yes?”

“You look gorgeous,” manghang wika nito.

“Palagi naman ‘di ba?”

“But—ahm—yes, but—I mean—”

“Sigurado ka bang hindi ka kulang sa tulog, Dave? O nauntog ka lang at tumulo ang utak mo?”

“Dammit, Prie!” ganti nito sa kanya. “Don’t make fun of me!”

“I’m not making fun of you at all. You’re just succeeding in making yourself look dumb.”

“Bakit kasi ganyan ang suot mo?” bigla’y iritable nitong tanong sa kanya.

“Bakit ba? Hindi ba sabi mo ito ang isuot ko? Hello! Ikaw kaya ang bumili nito.”

Tinignan siya nito ng masama. Then he said grudgingly, “Malay ko ba namang ganyan ka kaganda sa damit na ‘yan! Every man will be looking at you.”

“Well, that’s flattering,” nakangiti niyang sagot rito na lalong ikinapikon ni Dave.

“It’s not flattering at all,” pagmamaktol nito. “I don’t like anyone leering at my—” tinignan niya ito ng masama. “I mean—you know.”

“No, I don’t know. And it’s getting late. Kailangan na nating umalis.”

“But—”

“Iiwan kita rito,” banta niya rito as she dragged him to the car.

“Iiwan daw. This is my concert.”

“So? Pwede naman akong manood sa concert mo na iba ang kasama.”

Nang sabihin niya iyon, agad-agad nitong tinanggal ang alarm ng kotse at pinagbuksan siya ng pinto. “Get in,” utos nito sa kanya. Hindi siya gumalaw mula sa kanyang kinatatayuan. “Get in, please.

Nginitian niya ito at pagkatapos ay pumasok siya sa sasakyan.

**

He couldn’t take his eyes off of her. She was gorgeous in that pale blue gown that he gave her. Even though she looked a little pale, nagniningning pa rin ang ganda nito. And that both irritated him and made him feel proud. He couldn’t help feeling jealous even at the thought of anyone else seeing her so beautiful. But at the same time, he felt proud to know that such an angel is his. She was his girl—kahit na ayaw marinig ni Prie na inaari niya ito.

And he couldn’t help feeling excited at the thought of finally having her answer after the concert. Kahit na medyo naiinis pa rin siya dahil pinaghintay siya nito. He loved Prie. And he trusted her. Alam niyang may mabigat na dahilan kung bakit hiniling nito na maghintay siya. Anyway, nabawasan naman ang inis na nadama niya sa pabor na hiningi nito sa kanya kaninang madaling araw.

He thought about how he slept contentedly kaninang madaling araw kahit na kulang siya sa tulog. He had Prie in his arms. All other inconveniences were worth it compared to that. His hand flew again to his pocket kung nasaan ang engagement ring na plano niyang ibigay rito.

“What’s funny?” bigla’y tanong ni Prie sa kanya.

“What?”

“You were smiling. Ano’ng meron?”

“Wala naman.”

“Alexander David Fuentebella—”

“Haven’t heard you complete my name like that in a long time,” nakangiti niyang turan dito.

“You’re changing the subject.”

“Okay, fine. I was just thinking about last night. You know, how you eventually slept with me.”

Hindi ito sumagot. When he took a sidelong glance at her, nakita niyang pulang-pula ang mukha nito. “Blushing, my love?”

“He!”

“You did sleep with me, you know.”

“Of course I did not. I just slept with you by my side.”

“Of course that’s what I meant,” natatawa niyang sagot rito. He just loved teasing her. “Oh, no. Don’t tell me you thought I was talking about—” He shook his head. “And here you are saying I have a dirty mind when it is you who—”

“Stop it!”

“But I was just—”

“Hindi ako manonood ng concert,” banta nito. He shut his mouth.

“Good boy,” nakangiting sabi nito sa kanya sabay haplos sa kanyang ulo. Pinanlakihan niya ito ng mata na ikinatawa nito ng malakas.

But her smile faded when they drew near to the concert hall. Pansin na pansin niya ang tensiyon na bumalot sa mga balikat nito, lalo na ng mag-park sila.

“Hon? Are you alright? May masama ka bang nararamdaman?” nag-aalalang tanong niya rito. Umiling ito. “Are you sure?” Tumango si Prie. “Then why are you—”

“Can you hold me for just a minute?”

Nabigla siya sa sinabi nito. It was like she was suddenly afraid of something. Yinakap niya ito ng mahigpit.

“I love you,” she whispered at his ears as he held her. She was ice cold.

“And I love, too,” sagot naman niya rito sa kabila ng kanyang pag-aalala. “Hon, are you sure wala kang sakit? Pinapanerbiyos mo ‘ko. And you’re cold.”

Bumitaw ito mula sa kanya at pagkatapos ay ngumiti. “Wala,” sagot nito. “Ninenerbiyos lang ako para sa’yo.”

“Bakit naman? It’s not like this will be my first time to perform.”

“I know. But this will be the first time you’ll be performing in front of me—”

“Pero ‘di ba napanood mo na akong—”

“—as my boyfriend.”

Well, that made him nervous. “You’re right,” sagot niya rito. “Bigla tuloy akong kinabahan sa sinabi mo!”

“Just do your best, okay?”

“Siyempre naman. Nandito yata ang maganda kong inspirasyon.”

“Don’t let me down, ha, cute?”

Hinalikan niya ito ng marahan sa mga labi. “I won’t. I promise.”

**

Nang kidnapin ng makeup artist si Dave mula sa kanya, nag-umpisa na namang kabahan si Prie. This is it. There’s no turning back now. Naghihintay sa kanya si Mael sa labas with her luggage at the back of the car. Ng umalis sila ni Dave kanina, kinuha nito ang mga bagahe niya na nakalagay sa trunk ng kanyang kotse. In two hours, they would be on the plane to Washington.

“Prie?”

It was tita Alexa with tito Mike. Yinakap siya ng mga ito.

“This feels like déjà vu,” singit ni Mike pagkatapos siyang yakapin nito. She smiled ruefully. “I’m sorry tito Mike—”

“Shh. Don’t say that. Ngayon ko lang nakitang ganito kasaya ulit si Dave and I don’t want you to be sorry for it. I’m not.”

“Pero—“

“Just promise us you’ll be okay, Prie,” sabi naman ng kanyang tita Alexa bago siya yakapin nitong muli ng mahigpit. “We want you to live.”

“I’ll try my best,” sagot niya rito na halos hindi na mapigilan ang pagluha.

“And do us a favor, Prie,” singit naman ni Mike. “Don’t cry just yet, okay? Please.”

“Yes, tito,” she said as she took a deep breath. She had to be strong a while longer.

“Hey, you’re not bullying my Prie, are you?” tanong ni Dave ng abutan sila nitong nag-uusap.

“And why would we do that, ha?” ganting tanong naman ng ama nito. Ilang minuto ring nag-inisan ang mga ito bago sila iniwan ng mag-asawa. Bumaling ito sa kanya at hinalikan siya.

“Love you,” he said to her as he looked deep into her eyes.

“I love you, too,” sagot naman niya. Pinilit niya ang sarili niyang ngumiti. “Do your best, cute.”

“I will,” nakangiti nitong sagot bago ito lumabas sa stage.

That was it. It was over. A single teardrop escaped her eyes.

**

Her parents were sitting beside her. Her mom was clutching her hand tight. When Dave’s name was called for his solo, even her father grasp her other hand.

“Be strong,” wika ng kanyang ina as Dave’s gaze swept across the audience and finally settled on her. She smiled. He smiled at her and mouthed, “I love you.”

Then he closed his eyes, as she knew he would, and started playing her favorite song: Forevermore.

She closed her eyes for a second, blocking the tears from falling as her heart broke to thousand pieces. Then she hugged her mother and her father, and silently left the hall.

**

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