Sobrang busy nina Steff at Jess ngayon dahil sa Feb Fair. Syempre, may kanya-kanya silang presentations at mukhang ngayong taon ay couple performances ang gagawin nila. Maging sina Kevin at Karla, hindi ko rin mahagilap. Si Yna naman, nagpaalam na may pupuntahan lang siya saglit kaya naiwan ako rito sa garden.
Students were still glancing at my direction but it felt more like they were just intrigued rather than being hostile toward me.
Pumunta na alng muna ako sa dance studio para doon tumambay. Habang naglalakad ay ang daming couples na nagpaplano na para sa Feb Fair. I smile escaped from my lips when I thought of Kevin. We’re also a couple now.
Napasigaw naman ako nang biglang may tumulak sa akin at pagtingin ko sa likuran ay nakangisi sa akin si Jon. Sinamaan ko siya ng tingin at sinuntok sa tagiliran. He grunted but he continued grinning.
“Ano ‘yang ngiting ‘yan?”
“Ngiting nang-aasar,” sagot niya at bigla siyang lumapit sa akin. “You kept on resisting your excitement while walking, I mean skipping. Oh, and you’re blushing. Ibig sabihin ba, kayo na ni Kevin?”
Naubo naman ako nang sabihin niya ‘yon pero agad akong kumalma. I tried my best to remain unbothered but he suddenly laughed out loud.
“H-ha! As if! I mean . . . he’s . . . you know . . .”
“Hindi nga!” sigaw ko.
“Really? Pero sabi niya sa akin, kayo na. Was he lying?”
“He told you?!”
We already agreed not to tell anyone yet but he just informed Jon about it?
“Wait, you mean, I’m right?” he suddenly asked.
Hindi ko alam kung sino ang mas nagulat sa aming dalawa. He was too surprised that he choked when he gasped at me. Napahinga ako nang malalim dahil hindi ko akalain na nagjo-joke lang siya kanina. I fell into a trap he didn’t mean to set up.
“Dalaga ka na talaga, Als!” he teased as we walked to the dance studio.
“Alam mo, bwisit ka.”
He snickered. “Hindi ko akalaing mapapaamo mo ang isang Kevin Fuentez. Iba ka!” sabay tulak niya sa akin.
“Ako tigil-tigilan mo, Jon, alam ko rin ang sikreto mo.”
Pagpasok namin sa studio ay nandoon ang dancers na mukhang nagpa-practice dahil ilan sa kanila ay magpe-perform din sa Feb Fair. Tiningnan ko ulit si Jon at nahuli ko siyang nakatingin na naman sa phone niya kaya siniko ko siya.
“That secret,” I smirked.
He remained smiling but I could see the uneasiness on his face. Hah. My turn to tease.
“Alam ko kung sino ‘yan,” sabi ko habang nakangisi sa kanya.
“No, you don’t.”
“Gusto mo tawagan ko pa siya ngayon.”
Nawala naman ang ngiti sa mga labi niya kaya lalo akong natuwa. Nilabas ko ang phone ko at hinanap ang name ng taong ‘yon sa contacts ko. I dialed her number and after a few rings, she finally answered.
“Hello?” panimula niya at pinindot ko naman ang loud speaker.
“Hey! May tanong ako,” I said while looking at Jon who was already panicking.
Hindi ko na natuloy ang itatanong ko dahil kinuha ni Jon ang phone ko at in-end ang tawag. He looked scared and annoyed but he was blushing profusely. I enjoyed seeing him react that way because Jon was always the playful type. My god, binata na ang lalaking ‘to.
“So, tama nga ang hinala ko,” pang-aasar ko sa kanya at sinamaan naman niya ako ng tingin.
“Okay, I won’t tease you anymore so please . . .”
Natawa naman ako sa kanya. “Ang cute mo kiligin,” sabay tapik ko sa balikat niya. “Fine, fine. Quits na tayo. Don’t worry, ‘di ko ipagsasabi.”
“Ba’t parang ‘di ako naniniwala?” he muttered but I just shrugged my shoulders.
Naglakad ako papunta sa isa sa mga dance room para magpalipas ng oras at nakita kong nagpa-practice ro'n sina Ate Divine at Kuya Jasper. I was about to find another one when she suddenly saw me and gestured me to come inside.
Lumabas naman saglit si Kuya Jasper kaya naiwan kaming dalawa ni Ate Divine. Naalala ko tuloy ang sinabi niya sa akin last time. She said she became one of Kevin’s ‘girls’, too, but she assured me it was just him being compassionate.
“Hey,” bati niya kaya nginitian ko siya.
“Busy po sa practice?” tanong ko naman at umupo siya sa gilid.
“Not really. We already memorized the whole routine.”
“Wow. As expected.”
Umupo naman ako malapit sa kanya at narinig ko ang mahina niyang pagtawa kaya napatingin ulit ako sa kanya.
“What is it?” she asked. “You have a question, right?”
Napakunot naman ang noo ko nang marinig ko ‘yon. Was I that obvious?
“Go on,” she urged.
Napabuntong-hininga na lang ako. “Uhm, I’m just curious about what you said to me last time.”
“Ah. About Kevin?” Tumango naman ako. “I guess he didn’t tell you.”
Ate Divine smiled while looking at her reflection in the mirror. I wanted to know the reason why he chose to have that kind of image.
“Have you noticed? Lahat ng girls na na-link sa kanya ay either galing sa break-up or may complicated relationship.”
Napaisip naman ako sa sinabi niya at ni-recall ko lahat ng pangalang na-attach sa pangalan niya. Now that she mentioned that, I realized almost most of them were in those kinds of situations.
“That kid just unconsciously looks out for people who got hurt because of commitments. I’m sure you know why,” she said. “He would accompany them until they finally get better but some, well most I think, ended up falling for him. Kevin’s a natural charmer so I wasn’t surprised when girls wanted more of what they had.”
Realization gradually came into me and I remembered the words he said before. He was denying his relationships but he was also saying they were his girls. I guess he meant that as something different from what I thought.
“But you? You’re case is different.”
Napatingin ulit ako kay Ate Divine nang sabihin niya ‘yon.
“You weren’t like the other girls. You weren’t hurt or broken. When he picked you during the dance initiation of the new members, I knew you were special. He was interested in you, and for the first time, Kevin was the one who initiated the move. Do you remember what he said that time?”
Write my name instead. This girl is mine.
Of course. How could I forget those heart-fluttering words?
“He’s like a younger brother to me and he helped me when I was struggling so I want to see him happy,” she continued and she looked at me with a smile on her face. “Thank you.”
“F-for what po?”
“For taking the risks with him,” she said. “Kevin fears commitment and I know being with someone like that, who’s also labeled as a playboy and on top of that, a Campus Prince, would need a lot of courage and patience. So thank you . . . for giving him a chance to change and to show his real self.”
Hindi ko alam kung bakit ako naluha nang sabihin ‘yon ni Ate Divine. She really treasures him as his younger brother.
Dahil bumalik na si Kuya Jasper ay umalis na rin ako ro’n at lumipat sa kabilang dance room pero napahinto ako nang makita ko si Kevin na papunta rin doon. We stared at each other for a few seconds and I did something I would never do before.
I ran toward his direction and gave him a hug.
“A-Alice?” he whispered after stopping my momentum with his body, but I didn’t respond. I just stayed like that for a few seconds and when I heard the murmurs getting louder, I finally let go.
Humarap ako sa kanya at ngumiti. “Practice well.”
Pagkatapos kong sabihin ‘yon ay agad akong tumalikod at naglakad palayo dahil naubos na ang kapal ng mukha sa katawan ko.
“Hoy, Kevin, ayos ka lang ba?”
“Pfft. You’re blushing! This is new!”
“Baka may matunaw, hoy.”
I, too, am willing to take risks to be with you.
“Wait, Mom, bakit may tiara pa?” tanong ko habang patuloy niya pa ring inaayos ang buhok ko.
“You’re a princess. Of course, you need a tiara.”
“Huwag na, Mom. Masyadong agaw-pansin,” sabi ko naman. “My face is enough.”
Mom rolled her eyes but I saw her lips curving upward.
“Sabagay. You inherited my beauty,” she said while tucking her hair behind her ears and looking at me as if she was posing in front of a camera.
Naabutan naman kami ni Dad at napailing na lang siya nang makita niya kaming nagpo-pose doon ng kung anu-ano.
“Go home early,” he said while adjusting his necktie. Lumapit naman sa kanya si Mom at siya na ang nag-ayos no’n para sa kanya.
“Wala naman akong maaabutan dito mamaya,” I muttered. “Enjoy your date.”
Magdi-dinner silang dalawa para mag-celebrate ng Valentine’s at anniversary nila. Yup. Nagce-celebrate pa rin sila ng relationship anniversaries nila na iba pa sa wedding anniversaries.
“You, too,” Mom teased. “Make the prince fall harder, Your Highness.”
Sakto namang pagkasabi no’n ni Mom ay nag-ring ang doorbell namin. After a few seconds ay bumukas ang pinto at bumungad sa amin si Kevin.
“Good evening po,” he greeted and my heart raced the moment I saw him.
He was in full regalia—gold medals, crest and sash covered the front of his attire while the shoulders were decorated with gold piping. He looked like a real prince.
Nakatulala lang ako sa kanya at natauhan ako nang nagtama ang mga mata namin. He flashed a gentle smile and it felt like my heart would leap out of my throat any moment.
He slowly walked toward me and faced my parents but I gasped when he suddenly held my hand. Nanlaki ang mga mata ko at napatingin ako kina Mom at Dad na pareho ring hindi in-expect ang nakita nila.
“Tita, Tito, let me formally introduce myself as Alice’s boyfriend,” he said and my mind went blank.
Nanghina ang mga tuhod ko nang marinig ko ‘yon at pabalik-balik ang tingin ko sa kanilang tatlo. I wanted to say something but my voice wouldn’t come out.
He suddenly bowed deeply in front of them. “I’m sorry for not informing you right away. I want to present myself as someone you can trust and someone Alice can rely on.”
Ilang segundong katahimikan ang bumalot sa aming apat pero agad ding nabasag ‘yon nang nagbuntong-hininga si Dad.
“I just have one condition,” Dad said.
“Don’t hurt her. She’s my precious daughter.”
Tears instantly welled up in my eyes when I heard that from Dad. He wasn’t the vocal type when it comes to his feelings so I was deeply moved when he said those words to him.
“Take care of our daughter,” Mom added and Kevin smiled at them in return.
“I will,” he replied and I felt his grasp getting tighter.
Tumingin naman sa akin si Mom at ngumiti nang nakakaloko. “So your prince already fell, huh?”
Bago pa ako ang ma-target nila ay hinila ko na si Kevin palabas ng bahay at nang malapit na kami sa kotse niya ay tumingin siya sa akin. He stared at me for several seconds and gave me a tender smile.
“You look enchanting,” he softly said. “I can’t wait to let the world know that I’m yours.”
Hindi na ako nakapag-react at uminit na lang ang mukha ko. I felt happy and embarrassed at the same time. Napatingin na lang ulit ako nang buksan niya ang sasakyan niya.
“Let’s go, Princess. Time for you to get crowned.”