Prelude

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Sometimes, you say things you don't mean. You lie to hide what you really feel, whether it's because you'd rather not explain or you want to be left alone. When the truth is, you don't want to say okay. You tell them okay not because you want to say it but because it's what they want to hear.

The loud slap rang in my ears, my head turned when a palm hit my cheek as the sting burned against my skin. Someone just slapped me.

Inangat ko ang mukha ko para makita kung sino ang sumampal sa akin pero bago ko makita ay sinampal ako ulit. Sinalo ko ang mahapding pisngi gamit ang kamay at tiningnan ang taong sumampal sa akin.

My eyes widened, I can feel myself paling when I realized who was standing before me. "T-Tita Nova," I gasped.

Her eyes were wild and filled with fury. She was livid. Her angelic face and soft features turned into something harsh and intimidating. I can almost imagine her breathing fire.

Gulat pa rin ako at mabilis ang tibok ng puso nang dahil sa dalawang sampal na natampo.iyon ang kauna-unahang beses na may sumampal sa akin. It's weird how it hurt more in my chest than in my cheek that's almost numb from the hurt.

"Ikaw ang babaeng tinatago sa akin ni Luke?" hindi ko alam kung dapat ba akong sumagot. Alam kong alam na niya ang sagot pero gusto niya lang iyon manggaling mula sa akin.

"Answer me!" napasinghap ako nang tinulak ni Tita Nova ang braso ko. My eyes closed. We're standing in front of Luke Dashiel's unit. Ngayon ay hindi ko alam kung ano ba ang dapat kong hilingin, ang lumabas si Luke Dashiel o hindi.

"Are you the girl that my son has been seeing?" she didn't shout but her voice was sharp and stern.

"Y-yes." sinabayan ko iyon ng tango at malakas na suminghap si Tita Nova. Mariin siyang pumikit at pakiramdam ko naman ay tutulo na ang mga luha ko sa takot sa sitwasyon.

"For how long?" mahina ang boses niya at parang nagtitimpi.

"Tita Nova..." nag-aalinlangan na sagot ko habang umiiling.

Iminulat ni Tita Nova ang mga mata niya at nakita ko ang pagkuyom ng panga niya habang nakatingin sa akin. "I'm asking you, Avis. Don't make me repeat it again."

"Almost four months." bulong ko. Pumikit ako pagkatapos at yumuko sa pagkahiya.

"Four months?" shock was evident on her voice. Tiningnan ko siya at nakitang nakatingin lang siya sa akin. Hindi ko maipaliwanag ang itsura niya.

"Tita Nova, please let me explain... Please po."

"Anong ipapaliwanag mo? Kung paano ka pumatol ka sa mas bata sa'yo? For four months? Nagawa mong makipagrelasyon sa lalaking tatlong taon ang agwat sa'yo? At sa anak ko pa talaga? Ano ito, plano niyo ng Mommy mo? You're gonna be like your mom and steal my son away from me too?"

"No, tita. Hindi po. Hindi po yon ganon." umiling-iling ako. Nahihirapan akong bumuo ng maayos na isasagot ko sa kanya. Gulong-gulo ang utak ko pati ang emosyon ko ngayon ay gulong-gulo din.

"I tried to stay away from him, Tita. I dated other guys to distance myself from him. Paulit-ulit ko siyang itinulak palayo. Kasi alam kong maraming magagalit. Kasi alam kong bawal. Kasi alam kong hindi kami pwede." napapikit ako nang maramdaman ang matinding kirot sa gitnang bahagi ng dibdib ko. Nang iminulat ko ang mga mata ko ay halos nanlalabo na ang paningin ko dahil sa mga luhang nagtatangkang tumulo. "Pero ano pong magagawa kung kahit na paulit-ulit ko siyang saktan ay paulit-ulit pa rin siyang bumabalik sa akin?"

Umiling-iling si Tita sa akin. Namumula na ang mga mata niya at parang naiiyak na sa galit na nararamdaman. I was hurting badly because I know no matter how this confrontation ends, alam kong hindi niya pa rin kami matatanggap. "You're lying. Hindi yan totoo! You seduced him. Just like what your mother did to my husband. Inakit mo ang anak ko. You corrupted him!"

"Tita, hindi po." umiling-iling ako, pilit na tinatanggi ang sinasabi niya. Masakit para sa akin ang maparatangan nang isang bagay na hindi ko naman intensyon, pero mas masakit na marinig ang pagpaparatang na ginawa niya kay Mommy. Wala kinalaman si Mommy dito. Wala siyang kasalanan. She didn't seduce Tito Lucas. My mom loves my father so much, hindi niya magagawa iyong binibintang ni Tita Nova.

"You and your mother planned this. You planned to steal my boys from me!"

"Tita, that's not true." umiling ako. My eyes were still blurred from my tears that are threatening to fall. I can't cry now. Hindi pwedeng madamay si Mommy at ang pamilya ko dito. This is all me. "My mom doesn't know about Luke Dashiel and me. She doesn't know. Kahit na si Daddy. Hindi niya po alam. I didn't tell my parents because I know they won't approve."

Hindi sumagot si Tita kaya itinuloy ko ang sasabihin ko. "Tita... Please, don't tell my parents. This will break them. My dad... He won't approve. Please, tita Nova. Please." hindi ko na napigilan ang pagtulo ng luha mula sa mga mata ko.

She can spill my secret relationship with Luke Dashiel. Ngayong alam na niya ay pwedeng-pwede niyang sabihin sa mga magulang ko iyon. She knows that my dad would be against in my relationship with Luke Dashiel. She won't hesitate telling, but I would still plead and hope that she won't.

"Tita, please don't tell my dad. It'll hurt him. Please." mariin na pumikit ako at hinayaan ang pagbagsak ng mga luha pababa ng mga pisngi ko. My shoulders were shaking as I sobbed.

"Fine." she snapped. My head raised, my tears halted as I stares at her in surprise. "I won't tell your dad, or anyone for that matter. I will keep this a secret."

Para akong nabuhayan ng loob sa narinig ko mula sa kanya. Gusto kong ngumiti ng malawak at paulanan siya nang pasasalamat agad-agad pero gusto ko ulit marinig iyon para makasigurado.

"You will?" manghang tanong ko.

"I will. I'll keep my mouth shut." ibubuka ko na sana ang bibig ko para magpasalamat nang nagpatuloy siya sa pagsalita. "In one condition."

"A-anything, tita. I'll do anything."

I'll do whatever it takes to keep this a secret. To keep my family from hurting. Hindi pa nila na aayos ang nangyari sa party ni Tito Lucas, ayaw kong dagdagan ang problema nila. Gagawin ko ang lahat-lahat. I'll do everything she wants me to do even if it kills me.

"You'll stay away from my son." she said without blinking. It was like a nuclear bomb has been dropped on my world. The words exploded in my brain, it quaked my body-ruined my heart.

The hope that I felt was immediately ripped away from me. I couldn't explain what I was feeling inside me. I didn't know how to react. Or what to say.

She wants me to stay away from Luke Dashiel.

Ganoon lang.  Ganoon lang kadali sabihin iyon.

My tears were starting to emerge from my eyes once again. I think I paled as I blankly stood in front of her. "Tita Nova..." I weakly whispered, shaking my head a little.

"I won't tell anyone a word. I'll pretend all of this never happened if you leave my son alone. You are to stay away from Luke Dashiel for as long as I'm breathing." the tone of her voice was filled with assurance and confidence, like she already know that she got the upper hand and that she'll win.

Alam kong iyon ang tamang gawin. Ang bitawan si Luke Dashiel at tuluyan siyang pakawalan. It's the right thing to do but that doesn't mean it doesn't hurt. Sakit ang idinudulot sa akin habang iniisip na dapat ko siyang layuan.

"The decision is yours. If you want your parents to know or not, either way, you can't be with my son. I will never approve. I will never accept you. Let him go and you'll still have what's left of my respect for you." mapagmataas ang boses ni Tita Nova. It was so unlike her. Gone the serene and calm facade that she had before. Her voice was sharp that it sends slices and cuts straight in my heart. "Can you do it?"

Mariin na ipinikit ko ang mga mata. Something's piercing inside my chest. My heart felt like it's being clenched tightly with a fist. I wish I could stay in between. In between of happiness and tears. In between of saying yes and no. In between of being with him and letting him go.

I breathe in deep trying to find the right word. I searched for voice within me and opened my eyes to find her watching me intently. I parted my lips and whispered what she wanted to hear.

"Okay."

Conceding Affinity (Affinity #2)Basahin ang storyang ito ng LIBRE!