Kabanata 23

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Kabanata 23

Missed

Ngayon ko lang natanto, na sa ilang taon kong pagtira rito sa Iloilo, hindi ko kailanman naramdaman ang ganitong klaseng gaan ng loob. Even with the safety, family, and shelter the Ledesmas gave me, I never felt this comfortable. Ngayon lang.

"How are you?" Prince asked over the phone.

Ngayon lang siya tumawag simula noong umalis siya. Madalas, palagi naman. But then maybe he did not like our goodbyes the last time.

"Ayos lang."

"Good. Uuwi ako riyan ng Saturday."

"Okay," sabi ko.

"Galit ka ba?" he asked.

Pumikit ako ng mariin. Naalala ko ang lahat ng mga ginawa ni Prince para sa akin sa nagdaang apat na taon. He didn't like me at first but eventually, it turns out, siya ang pinaka nag-aalala lagi para sa akin sa kanilang pamilya.

Inilipat niya ako sa mas malaking kwarto kahit na sapat na sa akin kasama ang mga kasambahay. It's more than enough for me, actually. He suggested that I go to school. He chose my course for me. Pinapasyal niya ako, kahit na hindi na naman kailangan at hindi na iyon mahalaga. But still, those little things, little by little, opened my eyes to the world beyond Costa Leona.

Some of my first experiences were spent with him. My first movie in a theater, my first restaurant experience, and many more.

"Hindi lang ako kumportable sa ganoon, Prince."

"Just forget about it. I'll just call you again soon, okay."

That was the end of the call. I sighed. If Cresia's right about Prince, I should do everything to make him understand how I truly feel about him.

"How's the date?" makahulugan agad ang ngisi ni Cresia sa akin.

Date. Is it really that way, though? I wonder what happened with her date, too?

"Ayos lang."

Pinilit ko mang maging normal lang sa reaksyon, hindi ko naman mapigilan ang pagngiti nang maalala ko ang yakap ni Raoul. Hindi nakatakas iyon kay Cresia. Kinalabit niya ang aking pisngi, her smile grew wider.

"Aha! Oh my gosh!" she narrowed her eyes to emphasize her accussation. "So this is why you don't like Prince, Kuya Arthur, or anyone in our school!"

Sinipat ko siya pero tila wala siyang pakealam doon.

"Kung sa bagay. Gosh! That man is so hot! Plus he's mature! So dreamy!" nanggigigil niyang kinurot ang aking braso at nagpatuloy. "It's understandable! And he likes you, too!"

Nilingon niya ako. She stared at me impatiently.

"Cres, hindi naman. Naghihintay lang siya ng balita sa Papa ko."

"Weh?" she made a face. "I don't believe that reason!"

"Gaya ng sabi mo, maraming magaganda, propesyunal, at mature sa Manila. Sa dami, imposible na na lilingunin pa niya ako."

Cresia rolled her eyes. "Hindi ka lang nilingon! Sinadya ka rito!"

"Dahil nga iyon sa tatay ko. I know of his types. Alam ng lahat noon sa Costa Leona na gusto niya ng mga kasing edad niyang sexy at-"

"I don't buy that! I got a feeling..." she narrowed her eyes.

Huminga ako ng malalim at iniba na lamang ang usapan. Ayaw kong isipin pa lalo iyon. Aasa lang ako.

"Ikaw? Kumusta ang date mo kahapon?"

She rolled her eyes. Bago pa makasagot ay nakita ko na sa malayo ang lalaki, tinatawag si Cresia. We started walking faster. Hinila na ako ni Cresia para mas bumilis pa ang lakad namin.

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