Sumaglit si Steffanie sa main office ng kanyang agency sa Camelot. She received a text message coming from her boss. Gusto raw kasi niya itong makausap. Apparently, she will discuss with her a high scale project. Ang sabi nito’y malaki daw ang kikitain niya. So being the workaholic that she was, agad naman siyang naging interesado para ditto.
She walked inside the fully furnished lobby of the ICON Modelling Agency. This had been her second home in the last five years. Malaki ang utang na loob niya sa lugar na ito. This place provided her bread and butter. Ito rin ang nagbigay sa kanya ng opportunity to grow and be the person that she was.
She looked at her wristwatch. It was just 7:30 in the morning. Alas nueve pa ang date nila ni Tristan. She still had a lot of time to spare. Iniwan naman niya sa Kylie sa hotel kasama ang tagapag-alaga nito.
Dire-diretso lamang siya sa opisina ni Miss Kaitleen Peeves, the CEO of ICON. She was actually the one who pursued her five years ago. Nakita siya nito noon na nagbebenta ng pabango sa isang shop sa Frontera. She immediately asked her if she wanted to model. Of course, the old her had hesitations. Pinag-isapan muna niyang mabuti ang mga bagay-bagay bago pumayag dito. She was trained to pose, walk and smize. She had to start from the bottom. Wala naman kasi siyang background sa modelling. The kind of models that she knew where the ones that posed for painters like her, not the ones who posed in front of a camera. Sumugal ito sa kanya. She trusted her more than she trusted herself. Kaya matapos ang halos ilang taon, she was raking money not only for herself but also for this agency who gave her a chance to attain the status that she was in now.
“Hello Liz,” bati niya sa secretary ng boss niya.
“Good morning, Miss Steff. How can I help you today?”
“Well… I think I have a schedule for Kait today. Please do check, she just called me to say that I should swing by today,” she said nicely.
“Ok po, kindly just give me about have a minute to check everything,” she started browsing through her PC.
Iginala naman niya ang tingin sa paligid habang naghihintay. Puno ito ng mga larawan niya. Most of it was from her test shots. Kasama niya rin ang iba pang modelo ng ahensya.
“Ma’am, pwede na raw po kayong pumasok,” Liz said.
“Thanks, girl,” wika niya bago tuluyang pumasok sa loob ng opisina.
Naabutan niyang nagbabasa ng isang tabloid si Kait and to her horror, nakilala niya kung anong tabloid ang binabasa nito. It was the same tabloid that featured her, Michael Angelo, Tristan and Gareth.
Agad naman siyang kinabahan. Ito ba ang dahilan kung bakit siya pinatawag nito. Would she scold her for this scandal?
Kilala niya si Kait. She was her friend, but when it came down to work, she’s very strict. As much as possible ayaw nitong nadadawit ang pangalan ng mga modelo nito sa kung ano-anong isakandalo.
“Come seat here, Steff,” Kait said. Binitiwan na nito ang hawak na babasahin.
Agad naman siyang umupo sa upuang nasa harap ng mesa nito.
“Let me explain, Kait. It’s not what you think.” Inunahan na niya ito.
“What are you talking about?”
She just looked at the tabloid in her table.
Agad namang sumonod ng tingin si Kait saka muling kinuha ang dyaryo.
“This?” tanong nito.
She nodded. “I am sorry. I didn’t mean to drag the agency to a large scale scandal.”
“What do you mean?”
“You think I called for this?” her boss asked.
Agad naman siyang tumango.
“Oh c’mon Steff! Nakakaloka ka. I am quite thankful nga at sa wakas lumabas ka na sa kweba mo. Kaunti na lang kasi at mawawala ka na sa kalendaryo. Actually, ako nga ang nag-aalala sa yo. You don’t date. You don’t go out. Akala ko nga may balak ka ng magmongha.”
Nagulat siya sa inaakto nito. Naalala niya noong baguhan pa siya. Kait always scolded her models every time that there were dating rumors about them in the grapevine.
“Akala ko ayaw mo sa mga scandals?”
“Scandal? Dear, no! This one is what I call exposure. Imagine, a duke and two princes of the kingdom. Mas lalong tataas ang demand at market value mo.”
Kait was indeed a shrewd businesswoman. She always grabbed the opportunity for profit every time it presented itself.
“Well, so much for that. True or not. I don’t give a damn. Ang mahalaga, you are booking more jobs.”
Tama naman ito. Work was still her priority. Maybe she should just look at the bright side as well. At least dumadami nga ang trabaho niya. More job meant more money. More money meant a better future for Kylie.
“May I know this new job that you are talking about?”
“Well… This one is a little bit different than what you’ve done.”
May inabot itong folder sa kanya.
“It’s an ad for tourism.”
She was curious kung anong klaseng project ito kaya agad niyang binuksan ang folder.
She started reading the context. Napakurap siya sa nabasa. She tried reading once more, just trying to make sure that she read everything right.
“The Viceroy of Asphodel had requested you to be their Ambassador for Tourism.”
Huminga siya ng malalim. Gareth.
Biglang sumagi sa isipan niya ang sinabi ni Gareth noong huli silang magkasama, “I wanted to promote Aphodel’s tourism and I need a celebrity for that. I think you’ll be fit for our tourism ad.”
Seryoso pala ito sa nais nitong gawin. But what for? She didn’t believe that he just wanted her to model for Asphodel’s tourism ad. There’s gotta be something behind this. Did he want to hurt her again? Hindi pa ba ito nakukuntento? Every time they were together, wala na itong ginawa kundi paulit-ulit na lang siyang saktan.
This had to stop. She loved him, yes. But her heart had already reached its limit.
Huminga muna siya ng malalim. If Gareth wanted to toy and play her the more, she wouldn’t indulge him any further. Inakala niyang makakaya niyang makipaglaro dito, but she’s dead wrong. In the end, siya pa rin ang natatalo, siya pa rin ang umuuwing luhaan.
Ayaw na niya nang ganito.
“Kait, I’ve been very good to you these past years, right. You know me, I am a workaholic. Hindi ako namimili ng trabaho. But this one is different, I don’t want to do this. I do not want make a fool of myself any longer.”
She felt a sting in her eye but she just blink it all off. When it came to Gareth, she was too emotional for her own good.
“Why?” may pagtataka sa tono nito.
“Please, don’t ask any further. I just don’t want to do this.”
This was for her own good.
Isang malalim na buntong hininga ang sinagot niya dito.
“Steff. I know you. Alam kong may malalim na dahilan kung bakit ka nagkakaganyan. And I respect that. But, Prince Gareth Pendragon had issued a Royal Decree already,” puno nang pang-unawa siyang tiningan nito sa mata.
Hindi talaga niya maintindihan si Gareth. She knew he was angry at her. For what reasons? That remained a question to her as well.
Ano pa ba ang gusto nitong mangyari? Did he want to cause more misery in her life? Napapikit na lamang siya. She was thinking of everything all at the same time.
This had got stop. She needed to finally settle everything between them.
“Ok, Kait. I’ll do this one. Please arrange everything for me.”
BINABASA MO ANG
Falling for the Blue Eyed Cinderella (Gareth Pendragon Book 2)Romance
This is part two of The Rouge Prince. Please read Book 1 first. http://www.wattpad.com/story/14707497-the-rouge-prince