I kissed him back but only for a second because suddenly all I could see was Axel's face. I quickly realized what the hell I was doing and drew my head back. It felt nothing, it meant nothing. I didn't feel anything but guilt and shame. He looked so full of hope, so happy. I wished I could take back what I had done. Loneliness could make you do stupid things. It put your defenses at an all-time low. There was nothing more I wanted at that moment but to leave and ran to my room. And so I did. I said bye to David and ran.
As soon as I got in my room, the mask fell and so did the tears. In the day, I make out that I'm fine, that I'm tough, but when the night comes everything just hits me all over again. I missed him but I knew this had to stop. It was exhausting and it was taking a toll on me. I needed to stop crying myself to sleep. I needed to stop thinking about him. It was too painful for me. I gave all I could give him and that was enough. I'd made my decision now, I knew what I had to do. This had to end somewhere and I thought now would be the perfect time. I wanted to be happy again.
I opened my sidetable drawer and rummaged for my phone. Axel had been texting and calling me but I never had the guts to answer or read any of his calls and messages. I opened his last message.
I miss you.
Deleted. I felt a tight squeeze in my heart but I ignored it. I deleted all 200 of the messages he sent me, his number, and our pictures together in my phone. It was as if I was deleting him from my life too. This was for the best, for the sake of my sanity.
Goodbye, Atticus Xavier Enrique Lavigne.
It was another one of those days when I felt like I couldn't get up. I couldn't do anything and I felt as though I couldn't get joy out of anything. It was as if life had been sucked out of me since Valerie left. Everything looks and feels dark and bleak. I didn't know how much I could take before I break.
I wanted to sleep and never wake up again... unless Valerie was lying next to me when I wake up. I felt like I was going crazy, maybe I was already crazy. I never thought having your heart broken could hurt so much but it really hurts like nothing I had ever experienced.
My phone rang. I ignored it until it finally went quiet. It rang again. Pissed off, I reached for my phone over the bedside table. I thought it was my dad calling me to scold me because I didn't go to work today but it was my lawyer's number.
I quickly sat up and answered the phone.
"Good afternoon, Mr. Atticus Lavigne." Said Atty. Rodriguez on the other line.
"Attorney, do you have any news regarding the divorce?" I asked.
"Actually I do. Do you have time to talk?" He asked.
"Yes, of course." I answered, my voice slightly elevated.
"Great! I'll be waiting for you at Sala Bistro." He said. We said goodbye to each other and I hang up the phone. I jumped out of bed and went straight to the shower. This was nerve-wrecking for me. I couldn't wait to hear what my lawyer had to say. I was praying and hoping that it would be good news. There was nothing more I wanted than to end this agony and be with Valerie again. I had two lawyers. One in Italy to fix the divorce and my personal lawyer here in the Philippines. They were both the best in their field. I was counting on them. I didn't want to spend another day without Val. My sweet, beautiful Valerie.
I put on my clothes after getting out of the shower and drying myself and drove to the restaurant. It only took me fifteen minutes to do all that. I saw atty. Rodriguez sitting on one of the tables, looking out the window and sipping from a glass, as soon as I entered the restaurant. I came up to him and his eyes turned to me, looking up.
"Please, sit down." He gestured at the chair across him.
I pulled the chair and sat on it. My heart was pouding like hell as we shared a few seconds of silence.
"May dumating sa akin na sulat mula sa Italian court." He said, breaking the silence between us.
My back straightened, leaning slightly towards him, I was more attentive now. "What does it say?"
He slid the brown envelope that was in front of him towards me. I looked up at him, he didn't show much expression which made me more nervous. Damn! I had never felt this kind of anxiety and anticipation in my whole life. I looked back down the envelope and slowly took it.
"Now, before you read it, I just want you to know that we did the best we could." Sabi niya.
I swallowed to put moisture on my dry throat. Biglang nanghina ang loob ko sa sinabi niya. I didn't feel like opening the envelope anymore. I wasn't ready for another disappointment.
"Go ahead." He gestured his hand on the envelope. Well, what the heck.
I could feel my hand shook slightly as I open the envelope. Kinuha ko mula sa loob nun ang makapal na papel. I looked back up at my lawyer, he nodded his head as if telling me to read it. My eyes went back to the papers and I started scanning through it.
FUCK! That was the first word I thought when I finally read what was written on it.
"Congratulations, Atticus. It's all finalized. You're now a free man." He said with a wide smile.
"Wow, that was quick! All that in less than two months." For the first time in what felt like eternity, I let out a smile. It felt weird because I hadn't used that muscle for quite awhile. I felt free, like an overbearing weight had been taken of from me. As if legs shackles that binded me for a long time had become undone. "I can't tell you how thankful I am right now. God, thank you so much."
After the meeting with my lawyer, I didn't twice about going to the Zamora's. I wanted so bad to be with Valerie. The days and nights wishing she was in my arms, they were the days that kept me going. Living life without her was pure torture, the ultimate punishment. Freedom had never felt this good.
It was already night when I got to the Zamora's but the guards outside the hacienda gate refused to let me in. Nagmakaawa ako sa kanila pero mahigpit daw na bilin ni Jaime na huwag akong papasukin sa loob. I stayed there, outside the gate, for about an hour and desperate to be let in when a black Hummer came. It was Jaime's car. My car was blocking the gate so he honked at me. Bumaba ako ng kotse at naglakad palapit sa kotse ni Jaime sa likod ko.
He rolled his window down. "Don't make a scene here, Axel. Hindi mo ba naiintindihan ang sinabi ni Valerie? She doesn't want to be with you anymore. Respetuhin mo ang desisyon ng anak ko." He said in a hard voice.
"Jaime, I'm already divorced. I got my divorce decree." I said. I ran back to my car to get the envelope and showed it to him. Nagpalit-palit ang tingin niya sa papel at akin. After a few minutes, he finally put the papers down and looked at me.
"I just want to see Val. I want to talk to her. Aayusin ko ang gulong ginawa ko."
"And you think it would be that easy? Sa tingin mo, matatanggap ka ng anak ko ng ganong kadali pagkatapos mo siyang lokohin?" His brow shot up in amusement. "I'm a father, Axel. I've seen my daughter cry because of you. I've seen how broken she's been since she came back here. Masakit para sa isang ama na makita ang anak niyang nasasaktan. And you know what's the worse part? I couldn't do a thing to stop her from hurting."
What Jaime said about Valerie made my heart ache. I didn't mean to hurt her. I wanted to punch myself for hurting her. She didn't deserve it. The hell I had endured being without her wasn't enough for what I did to her.
"Unti-unti na siyang nakakabangon sa pagkadapa niya. She's learning to smile and laugh again. Ngayon ka pa ba babalik sa buhay niya kung kailan natututo na siya maging masaya ulit? Huwag mo na siyang itulak pabalik sa pagkadapa niya."
"I won't hurt her again. I promise. I love Valerie more than anything and the last thing I would want to do is hurt her." I sincerely said, my voice shook. I knew those words weren't enough to convince Jaime. He just stared at me with a cold, stoic expression. "I know words aren't enough. Papatunayan ko sa'yo kung gaano ko siya kamahal. I... I'll do anything to win her back."
"Anything?" He quietly asked.
"ANYTHING." My eyes glowed with hope.