Tell Me You Love Me
Tell Me You Love Me
Author: heyskawn
CHAPTER 00

Chills rundown my spine when the cold of Friday morning caught up to me despite the layers of clothes I'm wearing. I slammed the door shut after I've alighted the vehicle. Habang nilalakad ko ang distansya ng parking spot ko papuntang elevator banks ay dinudukot ko ang cellphone mula sa aking bag para matawagan si Antonia upang magbilin.

I was in a rush earlier that I missed the chance to mention what's needed to be done at home. Sa totoo lang ay hindi ko naman gustong pumasok sa trabaho ngayon dahil nang umalis ako ng bahay kanina ay malungkot na tinatanaw ako ng anak na may sakit at nakaratay sa kama.

Tinipa ko ang numero ni Antonia. Mga ganitong oras ay mukhang naibaba na niya si Julian para sa morning nap nito. 

"Bonjour, Antonia parlant..." sagot ni Antonia.

(Hello, Antonia speaking...)

"Antonia, voici Julianne," I answered back, "Le médicament de Julian est dans la boîte à pharmacie dans la salle de bain commune et si Julian a demandé pour moi, dis lui que je rentrerai tôt."

(Antonia, this is Julianne. Julian's medicine is in the medicine box in the common bathroom and if Julian asked for me, tell him I'll be home early.)

"Oui, madame." sagot niya tsaka ko ibinaba ang tawag.

(Yes, madame.)

Binaba ko na ang tawag matapos niyon. Kailangan ko na lang na tapusin ang trabaho ko ngayong araw ng mabilis upang makauwi ng maaga.

Nasa harap na ako ng elevator nang may marahang tapik akong naramdaman sa aking balikat. Nilingon ko kung sinuman iyon at pinasok na muli ang aking phone sa bag.

I spotted Justin Blanchard smiling boyishly at me. I pouted, "Hey" I greeted him.

"Bonjour, Julianne..." he greeted me back, tapos ay tumitig siya sa repleksiyon naming dalawa sa nakasarang pinto ng elevator.

"Is Julian okay? I heard your conversation with Antonia."

I let out a sigh, "Julian caught the flu and I badly wanted to stay home..."

"Why didn't you skip work?"

"I have a meeting with the chemist today," I look his way, "By the way, How's little Fleur?" 

The elevator doors opened. Hinarang niya pa ang kanyang kamay sa pinto upang 'di ito magsara. Chills run up my spine when I felt his hand at my lower back.

I jolted but remain stoic. Hindi ako komportableng hinahawakan ng iba. 

"My baby girl is fine, she's currently with mére because she misses her." he said, smiling.

He pressed the buttons which floor we'd step out of. I thanked him and my eyes went to the digital red numbers indicating the floors at the upper right corner of the lift.

"Nicole is visiting you as per usual?" tanong niya sa akin, binasag niya ang namuong kaunting katahimikan.

"Oh yes! She's living in Barcelona and it's her vacation so we'll pick her up from the Austerlitz station," I replied, fidgeting my fingers.

He nodded slowly and didn't say a word afterwards. Silence ate us as our descend up is quite slow. Can't this lift go up any more slower? 

He let out a sigh. Which is kinda audible and deep that I turned towards his direction, "That's kind of deep," I joked.

He looked at me and his smile just disappeared. "He's in Italia, Julianne."

I was taken back, "Who?" I asked, as if I didn't know who he was talking about. Of course, it's Hunter Grayson Huntington! May iba pa ba?

"You know who I'm talking about...“

"I don't want to talk about him, Justin..." binalik ko ang tingin sa LED screen pero blanko ang tingin ko rito.

It brings so many painful memories. He was my best friend, but just because of a stupid drunken night he forgotten about the friendship we had and treated me like a trash.

When I found out that I was pregnant, I chose to run away and start anew. Justin helped me with all the financial aspects of me running away from Hunter's clutches.

Ang pumipigil na lang sa pagkakahanap sa akin ni Hunter ay si Justin. He spoils every attempt Hunter do to find me.

Hindi ko alam ang gagawin ko kung mahanap nga ako ni Hunter and that he'd know about Julian. Being a Huntington, I've already know what he'll do. Pamilyar at kilala ko siya. He would challenge me to court for Julian's custody.

Knowing full well of that, I'll lose.

I'll lose my son.

My resources is not as endless as the Huntingtons. They're old money rich. He can spend his money like it's nothing. 

Hindi rin makakatulong ang batas sa akin. Lalo na ang batas sa Pilipinas! The law is crooked. The rich and powerful is always the one winning.

Iyon ang 'di ko maaatim. Hindi ko kayang makita na manalo siya at nasa kanya ang anak ko. 

For a man who doesn't know how to love, how will my son grow up to be a good man if his father isn't?

Bumukas ang elevator sa 16th floor. Nilingon ako ni Justin, "This is my floor." he smiled at me before the elevator doors closed.

I just forced a smile. Hindi ko magawang tanggalin sa isip ko ang mga scenario'ng pilit ipinapakita nito. Lahat ng iyon ay ipinapakita na hawak niya ang anak namin at kasama niya ang babaeng iyon.

I wish I could turn back time and chose Justin instead following my dumb heart for loving my best friend.

The mistake of choosing Hunter has lead me to nothing but pain and suffering. It's just Julian has been the rainbow after the wrecker typoon Hunter. 

"Good morning, Miss Julianne!" bati sa akin ni Lia pagkabukas ng elevator.

"Good morning to you too, Lia," pagod ko siyang nginitian, "Please cancel my afternoon appointments, I'll just meet with our chemist for fragrance and skin line." sabi ko nang salubungin ako ni Lia pagkalabas ko pa lang ng elevator.

"Yes, Miss," tumango siya, "I'll call your scheduled meetings this afternoon for a reschedule." sabay kaming lumakad papunta sa aking opisina.

"Thank you, Lia, my Julian is sick." sabi ko.

"Just doing my job, Miss." she smiled at me as she opens the door to my office. Tumango ako sa kanyang direksyon bilang pasasalamat. My life at the office is quite easy thanks to Lia.

Luster, my brand, has been out on the market for two years now. After I gave birth to Julian, I enrolled in IFA Paris for my MBA in Fashion Business then just last year I finished another MBA with Perfume and Cosmetics Management.

Kaya't pagkatapos akong tulungan ni Justin sa pagpapatayo ng Luster ay ako mismo ang nagtayo ng Luster cosmetics, Luster fragrance and just the recent extension is the Luster skin.

Binabasa ko ang report ng sales nang sumungaw ang ulo ni Lia mula sa pinto. Nakangiti siya, "Miss, the chemist is waiting in the conference room."

"Give me a sec," sagot ko habang inaayos ang mga papel. "The sales increase for the apparels and merchandise, and so are the liquid lippies that retailers from US and London wanted restock!" bumukas ng maluwag ang pintuan.

"Was that a good news, Miss?" nakangiting tanong ni Lia.

I grinned, "It definitely is!"

Pumunta kami ni Lia ng conference room, doon naghihintay na nga ang chemist na gumawa ng produkto ng Luster cosmetics, skin at fragrance.

"Good morning!" bati ko.

She smiled, "Good morning, mademoiselle!" 

My eyes caught sight of four white packaging with labels, 6 clear spray bottles, 16 assorted colors for the new line of liquid lips, and the 24 colors I asked for the eyeshadow.

I first examined the 24 pans of the eyeshadows to see if there is something to tinker for more pay offs or more pearl. 8 out of the 24 are rejected for being oh-so powdery and the lack of pigment.

Even the lippies isn't spared, I just approved 9 colors out of the 16 for it has scent and the application is patchy and needs more to be opaque for color vibrancy.

Namili ako ng tatlo sa anim na fragrance na ginawa nila. Luster had launched 9 fragrance in our 2 years in the business. I approved 3 of the 6, since the other three has strong aroma that I think suited for men.

"Can I have about ten to fifteen samples of the cleanser, toner, sunscreen and night serum?" I asked the manufacturer's chemist, "So I can have people tested it before launching..."

"Yes, Mademoiselle." she jotted something on her clipboard.

Inilipat ko ang tingin sa papel na hawak, "Can you give me a date for the restocks I ordered?" I asked.

"About the restocks, it won't be delivered 'till mid Spring." 

Tumango-tango ako, "Though has the bottles for the products has already been delivered? So I could do a follow up,"

"Oui, Mademoiselle, it has arrived earlier this week."

"Before we wrap this up, will the samples be delivered here next week in 160 mL cleanser and 200 mL toner? Will the sunscreen and serum be in it's 120 mL packaging?"

"Oui, Mademoiselle, so even if it's sample the people would get the full packaging experience..."

I nodded, "Thank you!" tumayo ako at inabot ang kamay sa chemist.

"Thank you as well, Mademoiselle..."

"I'd visit the production, next week,"

"Oui, Mademoiselle, I'll let them know you're coming." we shook hands before Lia escorted her back.

Samantala'y bumalik ako sa aking opisina para kuhanin ang coat, scarf at bag ko. Uuwi na ako upang asikasuhin naman ngayon ang anak ko.

I rush back home and swung the door open. "Antonia!" I called.

Antonia hurried to meet me at the living room. Tinanggal ko ang scarf at sinunod na hubarin ang coat at pagkatapos ay pinatong ko iyon sa arm rest ng upuan.

"Tu peux rentrer chez toi, Antonia," I told Antonia, "Je vais prendre la relève maintenant."

(You can go home, Antonia, I'm going to take over now.)

Marahang tumango si Antonia, "Oui, Madame."

(Yes, Madame.)

I didn't wait for Antonia to leave, imbes ay dumiretso na ako sa kuwarto ni Julian. Maya maya ay susunduin namin si Nicole, my friend and one of Julian's godmother, na bibisita rito nang ilang araw bago kami pumunta sa London upang bisitahin naman ang kanyang Papa.

Marahan kong hinawi ang kulot na buhok ng tulog na anak, "Julian, baby, momma's here." bulong ko at ginawaran ng halik ang noo nito.

"Momma?"

"Yes, it's momma..." I kissed his chubby cheek this time, "Wake up na baby, we have to get ready kasi we'll fetch your Ninang Nicole diba?"

Tumango siya pero nakapikit pa rin. I kissed his cheek again, "You'll wear your Avengers shirt?" tanong ko sa kanya pero umikot siya at niyakap ang unan. "I'll arrange your things ah, Julian, momma will be back." nang tumayo ako ay binitawan niya ang unan at naupo sa kama.

"Momma..." tinawag niya ako at umaabot sa akin. I smiled as I took him with me, he's fever has gone down that's been obvious but the inflammation on his cheeks are still there. 

"Tati Coli?" he asked when we went inside his walk-in closet. He hugged me tighter.

"Yes, baby, we'll fetch your Ninang Coli." with my free hand, I searched for his Iron Man shirt by the hanged shirts. "Iron Man today right?" I asked Julian. Naramdaman ko na lang ang pagtango niya.

I changed my clothing to a gray turtleneck tucked in a black a-line skirt reaching just above my stocking covered knees. I washed Julian before dressing him up with his cute black pants, Iron Man shirt and black cardigan.

"You look like mini Tony Stark, baby!" I amusingly told Julian as I put socks on his tiny feet.

"Iron Man!" he enthusiastically said, putting his arms up!

"Yes baby!" I agreed, I kissed his cheeks after putting on his Iron Man socks.

Sinuot ko ang pumps bago isinuot kay Julian ang kanyang sneakers. Pinatungan ko pa ang cardigan niya ng coat at scarf dahil bumaba ng 4°C ang temperatura sa labas.

"Baby, let's go na..." sabi ko at binuhat na si Julian.

We arrived the Austerlitz station almost 30 minutes later thanks to the Paris traffic. I smiled at the security personnel as we entered the station as Julian insisted he wanted to walk. Nagpatiuna siya at pinapanood ko ang paglalakad niya mula sa likod. He doesn't look sick anymore but I'm still worried.

We went to the platform to spot Nicole quickly. I put Julian on my lap when we took a seat by the platform's benches. There were a lot of people on the platform whether waiting like us or waiting for their departure.

His lips pursed when a train stopped in front of us. Nagnakaw ako ng halik sa kanyang matabang pisngi. Pinanood namin ang paglabas ng mga tao sa tren, hinahanap ang kaibigan kong nanggaling pa ng Barcelona.

In a black dress underneath a sandy brown trench coat, black scarf, carrying a small sized luggage, and a stupidly big smile is Nicole walking at our direction.

"Coli!" I called her. Binuhat ko si Julian.

"Yannie!" palapit siya sa amin, "Hi baby Julian!" kumaway lang si Julian at nagsumiksik sa leeg ko.

"May sakit kasi..." sabi ko, tumango lang si Nicole.

"Tutuloy pa ba tayo sa Eiffel Tower?" 

Tumango ako, "Of course! Julian wore his Iron Man shirt today eh!"

"Yesh, Iron Man!" bulong niya.

"Let's go!" anyaya ko at nagpatiuna na palabas ng istasyon.

Alas tres ng hapon nang makauwi kami. Eiffel Tower is a sight and place I'm used to so after eating lunch and taking some pictures for her gram we decided to head home.

Kabababa ko lang kay Julian sa kama upang makapagpahinga na ang anak ko at binalikan ko si Nicole sa living room.

I found Nicole pacing on the living room. Napakunot ang noo ko, "Anong problema?" hindi ko napigilang itanong. Hinarap niya ako, putlang-putla ang mukha niya, "Are you okay? Coli, should I send you to the hospital?" nag-aalalang tanong ko.

Baka bigla na lang siyang bumagsak kung sakali. The hospital is just nearby, I can send her there in a heartbeat.

She swallowed, "Don't get mad, Yannie..." she trailed off, napakunot noo ko lalo.

"Why?" I asked, suspiciously looking at her now.

She bit her lower lip, "I did something stupid..." she apologeticly looked at me.

"Wala namang bago doon," nang-aasar ko pang sagot.

Umirap siya, "I posted the picture we took at the Eiffel Tower!" 

Nakakunot ang noo ko, "So?" 

Minanipula niya ang kanyang phone at pinakita niya sa akin ang litratong kinuha kanina pagkatapos naming mag-lunch sa Esplanade ng torre. Naka-post na ito sa kanyang I*******m account, litrato namin iyon pero sentro niyon ay ang anak kong nagta-tantrums dahil gusto ng macaroons.

It actually took me a second more to realize that Nicole wasn't worried about the likes and comments but is worried about one of the commenters,

It was the comment of @hgphuntington. Hunter Grayson Huntington's comment saying he's on his way. Nawala ang iritasyon na nararamdaman ko. Wala rin akong galit na nararamdaman.

I'm consumed with fear!

I feel fear!

I feel so panicky that I started pacing and shaking so badly. I recalled that he's just somewhere in Italy! That was according to Justin who kept watch of Hunter's every move. Italy is not that far! It's just hours away if taken by train or just an hour or two if by plane.

I should get out of town with my son. Nilingon ko si Nicole na putlang-putla pa rin, "Get your things, we'll go to London!" sabi ko at tumakbo papuntang kuwarto ng anak. Mahimbing ang tulog nito.

Hindi ko na pinoproblema si Nicole dahil hindi pa naman siya nakakapag-unpack ng gamit kaya't bibitbitin niya lang ulit ang dalang bagahe.

Kumuha ako ng malaking suitcase, itinapon ko roon ang mga damit na usual naming isinusuot. Nagmamadali na kasi kaya't kung anu-ano na lang ang inilalagay ko sa aming suitcase.

Pagkatapos kong iempake ang mga damit at toiletries namin nang anak ay pinuntahan ko na siya sa kanyang kuwarto.

Buhat-buhat ko ang tulong na si Julian, "Wala kang nakalimutan?" tanong ko kay Nicole.

"Wala naman," sagot niya.

I opened the door revealing to the waiting figure of Hunter Grayson Huntington.

"Momma," mahinang tawag sa akin ni Julian.

Hunter looked at my son who's practically hugging me, "Hello, Julianne Averee..." he trailed, "I've been on the hunt for you for almost four years, how are you?" he asked, nonchalantly.

"Shut the fuck up." I glared at his serious face.

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