10. Follow my heart

NANG dumilat si Marco ay nasilaw siya sa liwanag ng sikat ng araw na pumasok sa kanyang opisina. Masakit iyon sa mata. At mas lalo pa siyang nairita nang sabayan pa iyon ng sakit ng ulo dulot sa kakulangan sa tulog at pag-inom ng alak. Hiniot niya ang sintido at tatawagin sana si Grace sa intercom para ikuha siya ng gamut nang marinig ang boses ng kapatid.

                “Pinaalis ko si Grace at para bumili ng mga nasira mo, kuya,” napadilat siya ng mga mata at nakita ang kapatid na si Beatriz na inaayos ang mga papeles na isinabog niya sa buong opisina. “Mabuti at gising ka na. Siya nga pala, binigay ko kay Grace ang card mo. Sabi ko i-max niya kung kinakailangan basta mabalik sa ayos ang sinira mo.”

                “Ano’ng ginagawa mo dito, Beatriz?” Dinampot nito ang isang throwpillow sa harap at hinagis sa kanya na maagap niyang nasalo. Nang tingnan niya ang kapatid ay nakataas ang isang kilay nito at nakapameywang. Mas lalong humulma sa suot nitong peach maternity dress ang tiyan nito nasa ika-anim na buwan na.

                “Look, I heard from Rafe na tumawag ka kagabi at hinahanap mo daw ako. I understand his reasons from not waking me up when my brother demands to hear me but this...” iminuwestra nito ang basag niyang cellphone, mga muwebles na nagkapira-piraso at marami pang papeles na hindi pa nalilikom sa sahig. “This is not you, Kuya. What happened? May dapat ba akong malaman?”

                “Just mishap. Nothing serious...”

                Tiningnan siyang maigi ni Beatriz. “Don’t try to fool me because you can’t, brother. Kilala kita.”

                “Alam ko kaya nga naisip ko na tama ang asawa mo. I sounded shit last night and I’m sorry for that.”

                “That’s new.” Lumapit ito sa kanya at dinama nito ang kanyang noo bago ang leeg. Alam ni Marco na normal ang temperature niya at kakatwa ang ikinikilos ni Beatriz. Na para bang bago sa kanya ang mag-sorry. Ah, yes...bago nga. “You never say sorry for Rafe. Remember your pledge. Definitely something is wrong with you, Marco Antonio Fuentebella, at hindi ako titigil hangga’t hindi mo sinasabi sa akin ang lahat.”

                “Wala akong dapat sabihin,” mas lalo pa atang tumaas ang kilay nito sa mga sinabi niya. “Beatriz...”

                Kinuha nito ang kamay niya at ipinatong sa sariling tiyan. Sumandig ito sa edge ng table paharap sa kanya. “Alam mo bang naririnig ng mga baby ang lahat ng sinasabi sa paligid niya. Sabi ng OB ko kausapin ko siya lagi at inaasahan ko na hindi ka magsisinungaling sa harap ng pamangkin mo.” Great! Asahan mo si Beatriz na gagawin ang lahat makuha lang ang gusto. Napabuntong-hininga siya.

                And the words just came out to his mouth smoothly. Naikwento niya sa kapatid ang una nilang pagtatagpo ni Cielo sa mall at ang di-inaasahang pagtatagpong muli sa birthday party nito. He did mention the undeniable attraction between them. The kick of lust that couldn’t be ignored and how they finally give in to each other’s pursuit.

                “That moment, alam ko...alam ko na lalayo sa akin si Cielo,” ngayon na nasa malinaw siyang pag-iisip ay napagtanto ni Marco ang mga bagay-bagay. Mga bagay na mahirap para sa kanyang lunukin. “It’s not about sa kung ano ang sinabi ni Vladimir kay Cielo. It’s not about her walking away from me. It’s about me. It’s about me and my damn feelings to her. The feelings I couldn’t put together. My own feelings I never thought existed.”

                “I need you to be specific, Kuya,” there’s a knowing smile on her lips as she caressed his face. “Feelings, in general, is a vast subject. Tell me what do you feel about my friend.”

                He cleared his throat. “I love Poleen. I do but with Cielo...she made me feel things. She made me do things out of my character. The plan was to just pacify the curiousity, you see. It’s not everyday someone came by and made you feel alive more than ever. She made me look jealous and possessive. She made me care over her then now I’m crazy because of her.” Huminga siya ng malalim at tumingala dito. “If this is love then I don’t want this.”

                “That’s harsh to say,” kinuha ni Beatriz ang kamay niya at hinawakan iyon. “Love is too diverse at magkaiba sa pananaw ko, pananaw mo at ng ibang tao but the thing about love is there is always a common ground. There is always that point when everything you believe, everything you perceive to happen will fade away and just let yourself give in. Let yourself follow your heart.”

                “Heart, you say,” tumango ito. “Does Avila did the same now? Let himself follow his heart?”

                Biglang tumawa si Beatriz. “Hindi kami magkasama ngayon kung hindi niya ginawa, Kuya. Believe me.”

                “I’m really happy for you, Beatriz. I really am.” He smiled then stood up to kissed her forehead. “Remind Rafe that if he ever made you cry again I’ll do the beating again.”

                “I think you should see him. Maybe he could enlighten you with everything.” And with that ay hinila siya nito palabas ng opisina hanggang sa parking lot. Wala naman siyang magawa. She’s the little sister.

                And sisters could be the most stubborn being on the planet.

~*~

                “This is wonderfully done, hija!” Cielo was pleased to hear that to Mrs. Gozon. It’s picturesque canvass of the province somewhere in the North. “As expected from you.” Ngumit ng matamis ang ginang sa kanya. The helpers had arrived with some prepared sandwiches and juice to indulge with. Hindi niya napahindian ang mabait na ginang na magmeryenda bago umalis.

                Dinayo niya ang mansiyon ng ginang sa Valenzuela para mahatid ang commission art. She always hand over her art to her clients personally. Nothing more and all her clients were generous enough to her. All but praises to her art. Sa katunayan ay mga nakabinbin pa siyang artworks na kailangan tapusin. Enough to make her mind occupied.

                “So I heard the news, hija, na ikakasal ka na,” Si Mrs. Gozon na napansin ang pagtigil sa ere ng hawak niyang baso ng juice. “I don’t mean to pry but it’s all over the news lately. Lorenzo Hernandez got an exclusive interview about it. He said the date will be announced soon.” Hindi niya alam iyon. So ngayon ay alam na ng buong mundo na ikakasal na siya kay Stefano Hernandez.

                This is too much.

                “It’s true,” binaba niya ang baso sa table at tumingin sa ginang. “Me and Stefano are engaged for months now. They were never fond of long engagements.”

                “Best wishes to both of you.” Tumayo ang ginang at ginawaran siya ng halik sa pisngi. “Please say my regards to you abuelo.”

                “Thanks,” she wished the same pero hindi niya magawang maging masaya.

                Hindi naman siya nagtagal at umalis na rin agad. Long hours of driving was not an issue to her before pero ngayon, she wished na sana nasa mansiyon na siya at nakakulong sa apat na sulok ng sariling workstation at nagpipinta. Painting keeps her mind in check, focuses on what’s to be done rather than thinking of the possibilities, of the what ifs, of the maybes.

                “Kuya, daan tayo sa mall at bibili ako ng ilang art materials,” she remembered na kukulangin na siya sa pintura. Hassle kung sakali papabili pa siya mamaya kung makakabili na siya ngayon. “I’ll be back soon. Siguro mga thirty minutes max.”

                “Walang problema, senorita,” matapos itong mag-park sa basement ay mabilis ang dalagang lumabas.

                She did her shopping spree inside the Art Bar in Megamall. There’s a lot of acrylics and oils to choose from. She got variety of everything, got also herself a a few brushes, new palettes and blank canvass. In less than twenty minutes ay natapos siyang mamili.  The cashier prep her things before she hand it over to her. “Thank you for shopping! Come back again.”

                “Thanks!” Nakalabas na siya ng store nang mabunggo siya ng kung sino. Her things scattered on the floor at pareho nilang dinampot ang mga gamit. Felt familiar but Cielo erased the thought.

                “I’m so sorry!” the hooded lady hand over her things.

                “Miss, I think this is...” dinampot ni Cielo ang isang green wallet sa sahig pero wala na ang babae nang tumayo siya. “yours.” She tried to search for her but she just lost among the crowd. To find the identity of the woman, Cielo opened the wallet.

                There’s a few cash on it and some cards. She pulled one and read the name embossed to it. “Blaire Erecka Chastain...” Sounds familiar...

                She was cut shortly after hearing the familiar ringtone. Madali niyang sinagot ang tawag ni Stef. “Hey,”

                “You must have heard the news?”

                “Yes, Why you didn’t bother to tell me about it? Client ko pa mismo ang nagsabi sa akin,” she put the wallet inside her bag and walked her way towards the basement. “Tell me what I still don’t know about this arrangement,”

                “I’m clueless just like you. Anyway, I’m heading to your mansion right now because Don Lorenzo keep pestering me to show up,” Naririnig nga ni Cielo ang ingay sa kabilang linya. “I presume you’re on your way as well.”

                “Drive safe, Stef...”

                “You too...” he ended the call.

                “Kuya, let’s head back to the mansion,” as soon as she settles everything she bought beside her, they drove their way out of the mall. She’s sensing something about this unannounced visit of the Hernandez.

                Hoping for the best that Don Loreno has some good thing to say about this.

~*~

                NAGING maayos ang lahat at sunod sa plano. Iyon ang rason kung bakit may tipid na ngiti sa mga labi ni Don Lorenzo ng mga sandaling iyon. He’s feeling a little bit festive. Una ay dahil sa muli niyang napaalis sa buhay ni Stefano ang babaeng iyon at pangalawa at sa interview na ginawa niya kamakailan.

                Ngayon, alam na ng Pilipinas at ng mundo ang nalalapit na pagpapakasal ni Stefano at ni Consuelo. Buwan na lang ang kanyang iintayin para maganap ang mga bagay na gusto ni Elisa.

                “You’re full of surprises, Lorenzo,” pumihit si Lorenzo mula sa pagmamasid ng hardin para kay Clarita at hinarap ang kaibigan na noo’y papalapit pa lang sa sala. “First, calling of the long engagement into a short one then the unexpected interview. What else do I need to know?”

                “Nothing at the moment,” lumakad siya sa pinakamalapit na sofa at naupo. “Everything is sailing smoothly. Gusto ko lang na matutuloy ang mga bagay na naitakda.”

                “Tapatin mo ako, Lorenzo,” Arman sitted at the sofa opposite to him. His face was unreadable so is he. “What’s your reason about this? I remembered Elisa...”

                “Elisa wanted to unite our families, Arman. Alam ko na alam mo ang tinutukoy ko,” his wife, Elisa, ironically in love to Arman, her best friend just as he to his wife, Clarita. That’s the flaw his hiding through the years. “Your best friend made me promise to do it in her death bed. Hindi ko kayang sabihin kay Elisa sa kabilang buhay na hindi ko nagawa ang tanging hiling niya. I’m not that cruel. I love my wife.”

                “Did you love Elisa?”

                “I did,” biglang naalala ni Lorenzo ang mga matatamis na ngiti ni Elisa sa hardin. The joy flastered on her face seeing for the first time their only son Viktor. She’s a simple, demure girl come from the old family such as Chavez. A sheltered one at kung hindi dahil sa pagnanais nitong makita si Arman ay hindi magtatagpo ang landas nila. And he’s stupidity came next. And now he’s keeping her little own secret till his last breath. “I just hope she felt the same way.”

                “She loves you.” Lorenzo almost stop breathing. Arman continues. “Iyan ang huli niyang sinabi sa akin sa hospital bago siya nagpasiyang manatili sa bahay mo para makasama ka. Mahal ka niya at wala siyang ibang hangad kung hindi ang lumigaya ka.”

                Gusto kong lumigaya ka...

                “Those words won’t change a thing,” narinig nila pareho ang pagparada ng dalawang sasakyan. Magkanabay na pumasok sa mansiyon sina Stefano at si Consuelo. “I intend to keep my promise and I won’t fail her. It’s the least thing this old man can do.”

                “What’s the sudden meeting?” Cielo asked directly. Lorenzo smiled at her.

                “Let’s talk about the incoming marriage, child.”

~*~

                “TITO, are you hew to play wid me?”

                “Whatever it pleases you, Makis. I’m here the whole day,” tuwang-tuwa ang dalawang taong gulang na pamangkin sa narinig. Nagpababa ang bata mula sa hita niya at hinila ang kamay niya. “So where to start?”

                “Ay show you my toys!”

                “Prepare yourself to be transformer,” naglapag si Rafe ng isang tray ng snack at isang pitsel ng juice. “I did that almost everyday and kinda used to it. Just take care of your spine.”

                “I’ll try to remember that,” at muli ay niyakag siya ng pamangkin sa playroom nito.

                Tulad ng sabi ni Beatriz, Rafaelle Avila taught him of his own experience with the bottle of whiskey at their terrace that morning. Nagsimula itong magkwento mula sa umpisa bago pa man nito nakilala ang kapatid. He never skip any part of it, from the moment he met Beatriz, the unexpected wedding, the miscarriage, returning to old habits then the reconciliation. Sa buong durasyon ng pagkukwento nito ay nakinig lang si Marco.

                “Beatriz was persistent. Spoiled. Hard-headed at natakot ako sa unang pagkakataon na hindi na niya ako hanapin muli sa pangalawang pagkakataon.” Rafe poured both of their glasses with liquor. He was reminiscing the past at dama niya sa boses nito ang sakit. “Losing our first child triggered something in her. That she’s better off without him. That she’s ready to closed that chapter of her life kung saan ako naroroon and to tell you, frankly, I cried that night. Not just because of losing the baby pero kasabay noon, alam ko na mawawala sa akin si Beatriz. I never bother to care about her before. Yes, we’re married pero I made it clear that I would not be the ideal husband every woman dream about. I intend to make her life a living hell.”

                “Gusto kitang suntukin ngayon, alam mo ba?” Rafe smiled at him.

                “I know. But the thing is love comes in different ways crafted perfectly for you. And she thought you of the most important lesson in life other that valuing one self. The more I think about it, the more I thank the heavens for this another chance with my wife. Totoo ‘yung pakiramdam ng sobrang kasiyahan kapag kasama mo ang taong nagparamdam sa’yo ng lahat ng klase ng emosyon, Marco. Everytime I see her, hindi pa rin talaga ako makapaniwala na kasama ko siya and I always, always vow to her everyday to love her for the rest of our lives. Babawi ako sa lahat lahat ng mga ginawa kong katarantaduhan kasi ganoon ko siya kamahal.”

                “Makis,” lumingon ang bata sa kanya mula sa paglalaro nito ng bricks. “If ever your dad made your mom cry, call me, okay?”

                “I told you that won’t happen again,” Beatriz barge in the playroom at carry her son. “Join Rafe outside. He’s watching PBA right now. Liliguan ko lang itong makulit na ito at maasim na.”        

                “Mom!”

                “Go now, Makis, We’ll play again once you’re finished.” Ginulo ni Marco ang buhok nito bago lumabas ng playroom.

                Nadatnan niya si Rafe na naka-upo sa sala at nanonood ng basketball game. Rafe shouted when Simon scored three points. “Yeah!”

                “Purefoods?” umiling ito.

                “So-so. San Miguel solid but I have my favourites.” Another score for the Purefoods and Rafe joined the audience, celebrating.

                “Will you tone down your voice, Rafe!” Nagkibit-balikat ang asawa ng kapatid.

                “I’ll try honey,” and the heated play was cut off with the break. News flash break in and after series of local and international affairs, an interview from Lorenzo Hernandez comes in.

                “Are the humors true, Don Lorenzo, that your grandson Stefano Ezekiel Hernandez will marry Arman Salvosa’s granddaughter, Consuelo Sta. Maria?” Lorenzo looked at the camera.

                “Indeed. A matter of fact I would like to invite everyone to witness their union that will be announced soon...”

                “Marco,” Papatayin sana ni Rafe ang smart tv kung hindi niya lang pinigilan.

He listened to every words Stefano’s granddad has to say about the wedding. He sounded proud. Kitang-kita sa mga mata nito ang kasiyahan but he could never feel the same way. His words were sharp daggers piercing directly to his heart. His breathing became heavy, could feel his heart constrict.

“Cielo, you can’t. You can’t marry Stef.” He envisage Cielo walking down the aisle on her traje de boda. Stefano was waiting at the end of the altar and he’s at the back. He shouted. “Cielo!” Lumingon ang dalaga sa kanya.

She’s crying, for pete sake!

“You can’t stop this. You just can’t.”

“Kuya,” it was Beatriz voice coming from behind. At alam niyang narinig nito ang balita. “Would you let her slip away?”

“I need you, two, to pray for me,” tumayo siya at humarap sa mga ito ng may nabuong desisyon. “I’m gonna follow my heart.”

“Sinon’g may sabi na pipigilan ka naming,” niyakap ni Beatriz ang asawa. “Go! Chase your own happiness.”

“I just hope she’ll let me,” Marco prayed while driving. “Cielo, please wait for me.”

Related chapters

Latest chapter

DMCA.com Protection Status