"GUSTO ko 'yang gown mo," nagtaas-baba ang kilay ni Beatriz sa suot ni Cielo. Sumimsim ito ng fresh orange juice sa hawak na baso. "Damn, Girl! You're sexy! Red definitely suits you. Mabuti at sinunod mo ang gusto ko." Ramdam ng dalaga ang pagiinit ng mukha bago sumimsim ng red wine para itago ang hiya. Kakatapos lang siyang ipakilala ng kaibigan sa lahat ata ng mga bisita at ngayo'y namamahinga. An old but romantic song filled the air this time. Ilang couples ang pumunta sa gitna para sumayaw.
"T-Thanks to you. This is the least revealing red gown among Veronica's couture. Hindi ko ma-imagine ang sarili ko na suotin ang isang gown doon na halos katulad ng suot ni J-Lo. Most probably my breast will take a peek beneath the sheer fabric in no time. I'm not that shameless." Aniya na ibinaba ang baso sa lamesa at nagpakawala ng buntong hininga. "Actually I don't freaking have a bra. Kinda liberating but still...di pa rin ako mapalagay."
"I know. Ako din wala." Beatriz held a boob and slightly squeezed it. Napailing siya. Tatawa-tawa naman ang kaibigan. "What? Masyado kang pa-virgin," pinanlakihan niya ito ng mga mata. Natutop naman nito ang bibig pero may nakatagong ngisi. "Right. Freaking Virgin! Definitely that won't be the case after you wed that... that impossible man!" Nakabusangot na ang kaibigan nang dumating ang asawa at anak nito.
Rafaele Avila looked every inch of a man in his tux. Mas lalong nakadagdag sa sex appeal nito ang maskarang suot. A charming smile makes way to his lips as he greets her before turning to his wife and kissed her forehead. Buhat nito ang naka-tux din na si Makis. Makis raised his little hands to her. Tuwang-tuwa naman kinuha niya ang bata sa ama nito.
"How's my baby boy?" She pinched the nose bridge of the two-year-old godson. His little hands reach her brows then down to her cheeks. He looked adorable with that smile on his face. "Is Tita Ninang pretty?" Tumango ito na ikinahalakhak niya.
"Very pretty!" He exclaimed before putting his little hands around her neck. He rested his head on her shoulder. Marahan naman niyang isinayaw ang inaanak. Nabaling ang tingin niya sa mag-asawa nang makarinig ng tila mahinang panunumbat. Rafe was scratching the back of his head while Beatriz was glaring at him.
"I didn't do anything. I guess it comes naturally." Depensa ni Rafe sa asawa. Mukha itong nasukol sa kalokohan but not sorry about it. There's a smirk in his lips. Its as if he's proud of his son. "Makis is a charmer. What else can we do?"
"Of all the traits why that one?" Nasapo ni Beatriz ang noo bago hinampas ang braso ng asawa ng tangkain nitong hawakan siya. "Nakikita ko na ang hinaharap, Rafe. He'll be my headache when he reaches his teens. Huwag naman sanang pati itong susunod ay ganoon din. I don't want my boys to break every girl's heart." Maybe due to pregnancy hormones that she became emotional. Niyakap ito ni Rafe at inalo. He's saying sweet nothings to his wife. Hindi na lang niya inintindi ang dalawa at pinagtuunan na lang ng pansin si Makis.
"Now who's this 'Hot Momma' here?" Nagsalubong ang dalawang kilay ng dalaga nang tingnan ang paparating na lalaki. Presko! Nasabi ni Cielo sa sarili nang tapikin nito sa balikat si Rafe at halikan sa pisngi si Beatriz pero ang mga mata ay nakatitig pa rin sa kanya. A typical ladies man. "Vladimir Marinov. And you are?" iniaro nito ang palad. She just stare at it. Natawang binawi nito ang kamay at ipinasok sa bulsa. "Oh, I get it. The beautiful lady doesn't want me. You bruised my fragile heart, baby." Umakto ito nasaktan at sapo ang dibdib but he got the nerved to winked at her.
"Stop being you for once, Vladimir." Kinuha ni Beatriz ang anak sa kanya at sinamaan ito ng tingin. "Tulog na pala ito," tukoy nito sa anak na bahagyang idinuyan. Binalingan nitong muli ang lalaki. "May fiancé na itong si Cielo so back off you freaking womanizer. Hindi matutuwa si Stefano if you're hitting with his girl," nang maalala ang kanyang fiancé ay siya naman ang tiningnan nito ng nanliliit na mga mata. "And I still don't want him for you. He's a pussy for letting you here alone. What kind of fiancé is he?"
"Did you mean your fiancé is my friend, Hernandez?" untag nito sa kanya. This Vladimir here got some quite expression etched on his face. Gwapo pa rin naman kahit magkasalubong ang mga kilay na nakatitig sa kanya. Umiling siya, hindi niya nasusundan ang mga bagay-bagay.
"I don't know who you are talking 'bout just as I don't know you, Mister..."
"Looks like the most awaited person has finally arrived." Turan ni Rafe na nakatingin sa piangkakaguluhan ngayon ng mga bisita. Natigil sila sa pag-uusap at sinundan ang tinutumbok ng mga mata nito. Beatriz scoffed. The Vladimir whistled.
"Damn! That's what you call an entrance, Baby!"
She felt it as if she slipped into a slow-mo. Cielo watched, transfixed, stalking along the red carpet was the man she wished to never meet again. With a beautiful woman at her side, they are a picture of a perfect couple. They were instantly love by the cameras. Daig pa ng mga ito ang mga celebrity.
Now that she could see him clearly, totoong matangkad at gwapo ito na tugma sa una niyang tingin. The mask just add a mysterious effect to his personality. His physique is perfect. Kahit na wala pa syang nakikitang actual na katawan ng lalaki sigurado ang dalaga na sa ilalim ng suot na tux nito ay nagtatago ang isang obra. The ripple of muscle over the perfect masculine ratio of shoulders to waits was flawless.
Tipong naramdaman nito ang pagtitig niya kaya naglumikot ang mga mata nito. Tila may hinahanap at nang magtama ang mga mata nila, there's an instant recognition in his eyes. Cielo felt color rush up to her chest and burn her cheeks. Beatriz was murmuring something. Hindi naman niya iyon naiintindihan ng dalaga dahil nakapagkit ang tingin niya sa ngayo'y paparating na magkapareha.
His intensely dark eyes didn't leave her. He scanned her, and her heart raced the moment his gazed probed and zoned over her. She felt bare the way he raked her body from head to toe that she instinctively lifted her arms to shield herself. Ngayon siya nagsising hindi pumili ng gown na akma sa kanyang panlasa. She should have wear a conservative one rather than this red almost piece of cloth na parang wala rin naming tinakpan. And how dare this man stared at her that way when he's actually with a beautiful lady. Has he no shame?
"Mi Amigo! At last, you came!" tinapik ni Vladimir sa balikat ang bagong dating bago nilipat ang tingin sa kasama nito. His eyes sparkled with interest. "I presume you are the girlfriend we've all been dying to meet." Ironically the lady he's with is also wearing a red gown just like her. Stunningly beautiful, hindi napigilan ni Cielo na hindi makaramdam ng inggit. She swallowed and forced her thoughts at the back of her mind.
"Everyone, especially you, Beatriz," strange but Cielo felt a pang in her chest as he said the next words that define the relationship he had with the lady. "I'd like you to meet Poleen Devit, my fiancé."
"Pleased to meet you, Poleen." Beatriz took the proffered hand. Why does it sound so fake in her ears? Could it be that Beatriz... "I hope my dear brother didn't bad mouth me. Mabait naman ako to the people I like."
"Beatriz," There's a hidden warning in his tone. Her friend had the guts to smiled widely to her brother whose face is now unreadable.
"Of course I like her! Don't be such a worrywart." Inangkla ng kaibigan ang mga braso sa kanya. Now all the attention was on her as Beatriz finally introduces her. "And Oh! I almost forgot. Kuya Marco, this is my friend Consuelo Sta. Maria. Cielo, this is my brother Marco Antonio Fuentebella." Sino ba ang nagsabing baliw ang kaibigan. That's an understatement! She's beyond insanity!
Bahagya siyang itinulak ni Beatriz papunta sa kapatid at hinigit palayo si Poleen. Hindi na nagawa pang mag-protesta nito dahil hindi na binigyan pa ng pagkakataon ng kaibigan. Rafe was now carrying their child as they walked away from them. She almost forgot Vladimir that's still by her side kung hindi lang ito tumikhim. He got a sly smile on his lips as he raked his hand over his tousled hair.
"I felt the need to save your lady, Marco." Anito sa kaibigan at siniko sa tagiliran. "Who knows what your sister was planning this time. It's better late than sorry."
"I should be..."Itinaas ni Vladimir ang hintuturo para ito ay patahimikin.
"Not gonna happen. Ako na. Don't let your sister down. Sa'yo pinakilala. At least accompany her for a while," Vladimir turned to her. He grabbed her hand and squeezed it. "It's nice meeting you, Cielo. I promise this won't be the last time we're going to meet. I got a premonition that it will be one of these days. Basta hindi matatapos itong buwan." And off he went to follow their trail, leaving her with Marco Fuentebella.
Maybe this situation would be simpler if she just accepted Vladimir's popular introduction rather than be with the same place as Beatriz's brother. How could fate play tricks on her? How could she get away from his overbearing presence?
Yes, she has too. Walked away when the time is right. And that time is now. Nagawa naman niya ito kanina at magagawa niya itong muli ngayon.
He took her arm just before she take a step outside of their unseen circle. Bumalik ang tingin niya dito bago bumaba sa nakahawak nitong kamay sa kanyang braso. No crushing, just firm and male. Very, very male. She looked back to the face who stole her first kiss. His eyes bored with hers. Combative. And heaven help her but for a moment she could only stare at the masculine beauty in front. Kung kalian dapat kumakaripas na siya ng takbo saka pa siya nahipnotismo sa angking gandang lalaki nito.
He let go of her arm. And that's when the magic ends. "You can't run away again, Cielo." There's familiarity in his voice that way he addresses her as he knew her all this time. "I lost my date and the least thing you could do is take her place. Dance with me." She felt his arm circle her waist and draw her closer to his side. Firmly. He held her firmly as if he had every right to wrap his big arm around her for everyone to see. Na parang okay lang dito na ganoon sila kalapit sa isa't isa at maririnig na nito ang pagwawala ng kanyang puso.
This is embarrassing! Since when was Cielo Sta. Maria reduced to a puppet to anybody?
Ngayon lang, sa kamay ng gwapong kapatid ni Beatriz na nagkataong siyang una mong halik, anang isang bahagi ng kanyang isipan. Which is true but why?
His grip on her waist tighten and she hate, hate that he could only walk with him towards the center of the ball with no objection at all.
MARCO was sure the muscles in his jaw would spasm any minute by now. What could possibly Beatriz thinking about her little stint earlier? Does she know anything about his bliss association with this lady beside him? That unexpected kiss in the dark? He will be damned if that reached Poleen. Ayaw niyang magkaroon pa ng rason ang dalaga na mas patagalin pa nito ang kanilang kasal or not agreeing at all. And that was a mistake. He mistook her for someone she was not.
Don't be a fool, brother, a voice in his head mocked him. You know she's not Poleen in the first place but you kissed her anyway. You kissed her like a mad man thirsty of a virgin's taste. Now, tell me. You did that mistake intentionally as you tasted her sweet, delectable lips?
Are you satisfied?
Marco's jaw clenched. As much as he wanted to bury the images of them together sharing that heated kiss in the dark, it just played in his mind continuously like a recorded tape. He could still feel the softness of her lips. The way she answered back lacks expertise but that just makes her more enticing for him. So innocent and naive. She got the fire inside her and Marco knew what buttons to push to unleash the wild side of this cub.
Cub? Now, where does that come from?
He glanced down at the innocent seductress tucked beneath his arm. She seemed lost but that didn't stop the men in the room who's eyes trained at her and her curves. He'd had more than his fair share of woman in the past but none came close on how this woman awakens his protective side. Napahigpit pang lalo ang kapit niya sa baywang nito. She turned, was looking at him with that innocent face with almost no make up. Her lips... The reddest, fullest most swollen pout of a mouth he could remember seeing was tempting him again. She was saying something.
This is dangerous. But he'd let himself indulged in this foolishness just once---to let her in his system. There's no way to ease the rising curiosity than to have a taste beforehand.
What the hell? He was a man.
The fog in his head suddenly cleared. Huminto sila sa pinakagitna at kinuha ang dalawang kamay ng dalaga. "Don't mind me. Just dance. Let's try to enjoy each other's company." He brought her arms around his neck, her back arched at the sudden movement. Her breasts almost flatten to his hard chest. Cielo caught her own tongue, unable to utter a word, and let out a little gasp while he trailed his eyes to every contour of her face. Nang di matagalan ay nagbaba ng tingin. Her eyes glued at the center of his tux. Coward.
He could feel the air in the room shift. Another song aired. A classic one.
🎵Put your head on my shoulder
Hold me in your arms, baby
Squeez me oh-so-tight
Show me that you love me too
Put your lips next to mine, dear
Won't you kiss me once, baby
Just kiss goodnight, maybe
You and I will fall in love🎵
He leaned right into her ear. "So you're friends with my sister? How come I didn't know you?" He started bago pa lamunin sila ng katahimikan. His eyes can't help but admire the back of the bodice of her red backless gown that was so low and his view was so good. His hands lie just above her buttocks and it's itching to travel to her flawless back.
"Don't know either." She replied, tucked some loose strands at the back of her ear. There's a momentary pause before she continued. "Maybe we're both busy with each other's business. Can't blame you though, ako rin naman. I've been busy with the commissions I get lately that I seldom go out to have fun."
"An artist?" Tumango ito. Bahagyang namula ang pisngi.
"Painter. Fine Arts graduate and now making profits through commissions." Her voice proud that he can't help but smile genuinely. A talented woman. Now that's interesting.
"Good to hear you're enjoying what you're doing," aniya, still swaying to the slow beat of the music with her. He grinned after. May kung anong ideya ang pumasok sa isip niya. At nakita iyon ng dalaga.
"What did you have in mind?" He could falsely suggest that its a flash of shame that crept over her cheeks just to set aside other notions coming inside his brain. This woman had something. He couldn't put a finger on it. Yet.
He'd met a lot of woman and Cielo wasn't like any of those. Her innocent amber, almond-shaped eyes say it loudly. The innocence Marco wanted to claim as his.
It seems the old Marco wanted to resurface again. He'd seen similar scenes before at alam niya kung ano ang dapat mangyari.
"Hear me out, Cielo," his voice low and in dire need for something he's not supposed to taste. Sa lahat ng makakakita isa silang sweet na couple. He let himself move closer to her space, almost hugging her. Ramdam niyang bahagya itong nanginig. Afraid of such closeness no one had done before but just him. "Let's skip the chase, shall we? You felt that right, don't you? The attraction we had for each other. It's too obvious I can actually feel it like my second skin. Bakit di natin pagbigyan ang mga sarili natin?"
"Are you out of your mind?" Her eyes wide open horrified. Tinangka nitong lumayo sa kanya pero di niya pinahintulutan. Her hands keep pushing his chest while looking at him na para siyang tinubuan ng sungay. "Y-You have a beautiful fiance and you're giving me such...such indecent proposal! How could you!" She hissed that only reached his ears. "Aren't you ashamed, Mister. Ngayon lang tayo nagkakilala and you act as if you own me!"
"Not my words, mi dulzura. Not my words," with one last glance over her, he put his hand on her shoulder and leaned down for the obligatory goodbye kiss. He could smell the familiar aroma of the woman she met two days ago. So achingly similar the idea that it was her all along was not far from the truth.
Marco let his lips linger far too long. His other hand secure her back, he felt as strong urge grab her bottom and scoop her against him. Her body was soft. He moved his lips to her other cheek but her lips were on the way and so he place the kiss were it should be. To her soft, red, lips.
Not enough...not enough...
"It was lovely to meet you, Cielo," she seemed out of breath when she stepped back. Her eyes were searching. And again he got the feeling to steal another kiss from her. "I'll see you soon..."
"I hope not." Cielo walked out of the ball without looking back. Muntikan pa siyang matapilok sa pagmamadali. She should have left the place beforehand. That man is a walking danger.
And he's coming for her heart.
"WHERE am I?" Nagpaikot-ikot si Cielo sa kinatatayuan nang mapagtanto niya hindi iyon ang daan palabas ng hotel. Saan ba siya lumabas? Hindi ba't doon sa malaking double brass door kung saan sila pumasok ni Beatriz kanina? Walang-tao sa parteng iyon nang pasilyo. Isang garden naman ang tinutumbok ng dulong bahagi niyon. Hawak ang laylayan ng suot na gown ay nagtungo siya sa hardin. Nagbabakasakali na may tao siyang mapagtatanungan palabas ng hotel.
What were you doing back there? Why did you let that man rule over you? As she briskly walked on the tiled floor Cielo can't help but condemn herself. That Marco was so full of himself! Mas maigi pa kung kay Vladimir siya sumama.
Someone caught her on time when her heels stumbled, steadied her elbows with a firm grip. Ang likod niya ay nakasandal sa matigas nitong dibdib. The sensation of his touch against her skin is familiar to Marco's. Before she could voice her protest she became captive of his body and the concrete wall behind her. His hands at both sides of her head, Cielo almost forgot how to breathe as Marco stared at her with unreadable eyes.
"L-Let go of me at once." She tried to push him but he won't budge. She started to freak out as her system went haywire. "This is madness, Marco! Control your freaking self!"
"That's the problem," Marco looked at her neck as he traced the curve of her throat with her thumb. Napalunok siya. His eyes went back to her eyes. She could see the restrained desire hidden beneath his almond brown eyes. "The beast in me wants to freak you so bad. I can't control its urges anymore. I need to do this. Damn! Mababaliw na ako kung di ko pa ito gagawin!"
He reached out, cupped her face and took the red mouth, and made it his. She yelped into his mouth with pleasure as he tasted her sweet little mouth. Her hands clutched at the back of his neck. Nakalimutan na ata niya ang naka-ambang protesta at nadarang na sa sensasyong ipinaparamdam sa kanya ng bawat halik ni Marco.
She couldn't afford to let her head get messed up by him but his mere touch, his kisses just do wonders to her body that she forgets that he's dangerous. He's a tease that's hard to resist. This will lead to disaster if he let her get in more in her head.
Finally, after that intense kiss, Marco finally let go of her. Habol nila pareho ang hininga, inilapat nito ang noo sa kanya. He reached out and stroked her hair gently. Napapikit siya. It somehow soothes her.
"D-Don't do this," she mumbled as her hands got a hold of his hair. Malambot iyon sa ilal ng kanyang mga palad. "This is wrong. Pareho na tayong ikakasal. This will gonna ruin everything."
His jaw clenched. His desired filled eyes by turned grim. "We're not trying to ruin anything. It's simply giving yourself a favor before we part ways. Alam mo bang kapag lalo mong sinusupil ang nadarama mo, mas lalo itong magwawala?" May dinukot itong kung ano sa bulsa ng suot na slacks at inabot sa kanya. It's her phone. When did he have her phone?
"I already saved my number. Call me." Humigpit ang hawak niya sa cellphone. Hindi ito nakikiusap. He's commanding her. "And don't test my patience, Cielo. There are so many ways to track you with all the money I have. Huwag mo nang paabutin sa puntong ako na ang kakatok sa pinto mo."
"I'm not calling you." May pinal na sabi niya nang harapin niya ang mapangarok na mga mata nito. "Kung hindi mo kaya, ako ang gagawa. I'll end this stint right here, right now, and don't ever come near me again. Are we clear?" Ngumisi ito. Inabot nito ang kanyang baba at muling dinampian ng halik ang kanyang mga labi. Magaan lang iyon. It's as if tempting her to deepen it.
Damn, she almost deepened the kiss kung di lang ito lumayo. There's a knowing smile on his lips. She felt that he showed how much power he had over her. "Remember that it takes two to tango, Cielo, and I got the upper hand here. You can't do anything about it. You'll fall to me. And I'll be at the receiving end with open arms to catch you." He put enough distance between them. "Now go. Leave now before I change my mind."
"You're i-impossible!" With one last look at Marco, she run away again. Don't know how she managed to get out and made her way to the reception without asking anyone. She immediately dialed his driver to fetched her in front of the hotel.
Finally, after minutes of waiting, she's heading back home. This night had tested her long enough.