Steff and I sat in front of them. They were still busy setting up but I could see Darryl throwing playful glances at Steff. She was trying to ignore him but her cheeks were already flushed. It was a bit funny and I pretended I didn’t see it.
“Ang theme namin for our performance this year ay OPM,” Darryl said after tuning his guitar.
“Ilan songs na ipe-perform n’yo?” asked Steff.
“Six, I think? Si Gisel at Kevin na lang ang ‘di pa kumakanta ngayon.”
“Hm? Like solo songs?”
“Yup. Want to hear mine?” he teased.
“Huwag na,” she retorted. “Surprise me on that day.”
“Alright,” he said while winking at Steff.
Seeing how confident they were while people were watching was amusing. I remembered Steff not wanting to cause any unwanted attention before, but this time, it seemed like she just didn’t care anymore.
They finished setting up for their next song and the three of them looked at Gisel.
“Ikaw muna?” Kevin asked.
He nodded. “Alright.”
Gisel started playing the piano and for some reason, it felt like something was tugging my heart.
“♪ No one ever saw me like you do
All the things that I could add up to ♪”
All of them became serious when he started singing. His voice wasn’t as good as Darryl or Patrick but it was . . . sincere. The kind of voice that would melt your heart because of its rawness.
“♪ I never knew just what a smile was worth
But your eyes say everything without a single word ♪”
I almost jumped on my seat when he glanced at me for a second. Good thing Steff was busy staring at her boyfriend.
“♪ 'Cause there's somethin' in the way you look at me
It's as if my heart knows you're the missing piece
You made me believe that there's nothing in this world I can't be
I never know what you see
But there's somethin' in the way you look at me ♪”
It was so hard to look composed when he looked like that. His expression was far from his usual. It was as if he was feeling every word of the song. And it was so hard to look at.
Before I could cause him another trouble, I told Steff I had to go.
“Are you sure? Ayaw mong sumabay na lang sa akin later?”
“No need,” I said, smiling. “And I know you have a date.”
“Ah. Oo nga pala,” she muttered.
I was finally able to breathe when I got out of the room but my cheeks were still hot. Also, my heart felt like it would explode in any minute and thank goodness I was able to escape that torture. If he performed that during Feb Fair, I’m sure a lot of girls would swoon over him.
It was already 4 P.M. so I booked a car and went to the café. After I ordered, I started working on my ongoing stories and saw that a lot of my readers took interest on the new one.
ladyinwaiting: Ohh an unroyal prince? Interesting!
knightmare: This one’s refreshing haha. A prince who wants a carefree lifestyle? Count me in.
Reading the comments made my heart flutter but it immediately turned into apprehension when I saw his username on the comments.
iamaroyalty: Bookmarked. Looking forward to this one :)
I was tempted to erase that story and just bury it in my unfinished files, and wishing I didn’t start writing that one, because it was based from him.
Even though there were only few customers, it still felt awkward typing if I wasn’t on my usual seat. I finished the draft of the last chapter and epilogue last night for one of the stories and I just need to edit it once more.
To be honest, it was kinda amusing because the epilogue happened during the ‘Royal Garden Ball,’ and coincidentally, I would post it before the Feb Fair. Since this was based on Alice’s love story, I hope this could serve as a good luck for her.
Kevin seemed serious about her and I hope the rumormongers wouldn’t mess with them anymore. I wanted Alice to be happy. Seeing her became anxious for weeks because of the articles and rumors made me so guilty even if I disapproved all of them.
I almost jumped from my seat when I heard someone’s voice. The next thing I knew, Gisel was already sitting right across me. He was wearing my cap but he gently set it aside when he was already seated.
He flashed a smile despite the exhaustion on his face. He’d surely be. Juggling between academic loads and extracurricular activities must be draining him physically and mentally.
I wanted to ask if he’s okay but I didn’t have the courage.
“Have you ordered?” I asked.
Ah. That expression again. Flashing an innocent yet teasing look on his face. He would always do that whenever I speak in English.
“Uhm . . . nag-order ka na?”
“Oo,” he replied, grinning, which made my heart skip for a second.
“Magsimula na tayo?”
I nodded and gave him the readings. While on my way here, I read the first page and somehow understood the context after some time.
He started asking about the words I couldn’t understand and explained it to me in an informative manner. He seemed to be the type who would do better as an instructor or lecturer. Kinda like Steff but with a lot more patience. I remembered one time in high school, Steff just walked out and gave up on Alice and I after she spent two hours teaching us the lessons in Math and Science.
“Ah. So, ang madami pala ng dialects ng Tagalog?” I asked, astonished that Philippines has several indigenous languages and a total of 182 native languages.
In South Korea, there are only two: Korean and Jeju languages, though some still consider Jeju as a dialect. Then, Korean also has several dialects which are mostly named after the traditional provinces of Korea. On the other hand, here, there are a lot of primary languages used and each of them also have several dialects. According to Gisel, the archipelagic state of Philippines is one of the factors of such rich and diverse linguistic groups.
“Yup,” he replied. “Kakaiba rin ang accents sa ilang parte ng mga lugar na nagsasalita ng Tagalog.”
“Nakapunta ka na ba sa Batangas? O kaya sa Bulacan? You can observe the differences there.”
“Batangas, yes, pero hindi ako . . . uhh . . . what’s interact in Tagalog?”
“Nakipag-ugnayan,” he replied and I almost glared at him after hearing that difficult word. He laughed at me in return.
“Don’t laugh at me,” I muttered as I drank my coffee.
“Sorry,” he said, trying to hold back his laughter but I could see the corners of his mouth curving upward. “I can see that you’re trying hard to speak more in Filipino. It’s a bit endearing.”
I hope he wasn’t smiling while saying that. It was enough to make me feel strange and it was a bit uncomfortable.
“B-because you said I should speak more so I could learn and be more comfortable in using it,” I mumbled, “even though it’s hard and embarrassing most of the time.”
“Are you speaking in Filipino when you’re with your friends?”
“Rarely,” I said. “They said it’s . . . uhm . . . c-cute but I think they just find the difference amusing. I mean—”
“Hindi naman sila mali.”
“Nothing,” he said as he continued reading the article.
Okay. I hope I just misheard that. No. I should just forget about it. Right.
We left the café after the tutoring session. I wanted to walk for a while first because I ate too much. It was just 6:30 P.M. so I think I could reach the campus at around 7 P.M. Well, I hope so.
“Hindi ka pa magb-book?” Gisel suddenly asked.
“Ah. Uhm, lakad muna ako. I think I ate too much.”
“Alone? Medyo madilim na. That’s dangerous.”
I wanted to say it would be okay but he looked worried . . . and that was a bit unsettling.
“Hanggang campus lang naman,” I replied. “Or maybe before that . . .”
There was a few seconds of silence between us. I was contemplating whether to tell it to him or not, but that resulted in a lot of what-ifs.
“W-would you like to walk with . . . n-nevermind. Bye.”
I wanted to slap myself for almost asking him to go with me. It was so embarrassing and humiliating that I started walking away without properly saying goodbye. I hope he didn’t hear that. I hope he--
“Ang bilis mong maglakad.”
Hearing his voice beside me surprised me so much that I stifled a scream. He chuckled at my reaction as I was still processing everything.
“I’ll walk with you,” he said while staring at the starless sky.
I just stared at him for several seconds, still in disbelief.
“A-are you sure?” I asked, almost in whisper. “I mean . . .”
He looked at me and smiled. “I have your cap,” he said as he adjusted the cap on his head. “Don’t worry.”
We didn’t speak to each other and just walked leisurely. The street was quiet and I was afraid he’d hear my racing heart. Maybe if there were stars in the sky, I could just focus my attention on them.
After several minutes, he started walking a bit faster. And that moment, when I was looking at his back, I realized something.
Prince-not-charming was actually charming.
Ah. Really. I hate this unsettling feeling. I just want to combust.
There was an uneasy silence between us while we were waiting for the car that he just booked. My stomach was churning and I wasn’t sure if it was because of hunger. I was getting conscious and him glancing at me every few seconds was not helping.
Good thing we were at the shed where students seldom pass by. Still, I was nervous because I was with him. If we were seen by someone, I’m sure it would create articles and rumors again. And I don’t want that to happen.
“I have read your updates,” he said, breaking the silence between us but that made me more conscious because it was about my stories.
“Oh. Uhm . . .”
He snickered softly. “Nag-improve ka na kahit papaano.”
I looked at him, surprised at his comment. “R-Really?”
I still felt awkward when we talk about my writing but his words made me a bit proud of myself.
“Yeah,” he smiled. “May mga nakita pa rin akong ibang mali pero minimal na lang.”
My heart fluttered upon hearing that but I couldn’t reply since the car finally arrived. We sat on the back seat and we both stayed silent.
We went to a restaurant and I was surprised when he ordered a lot of food. He must be really hungry.
“Kumusta pala ang Aral Pil mo?” he said as he drank his tea.
“Uhm, meron readings ulit,” I replied.
I remembered reading the first paragraph a while ago and I almost threw it because I had a hard time understanding the context. And we would have a recitation next meeting. Good luck to me.
Well, it would be my fault, too, since I prioritized updating my story rather than studying the readings we were given.
I fished out the readings from my bag and he checked them out.
“Hmm, mas malalim ang words kaysa sa nakaraan,” he remarked.
“Do you need help?”
I just stared at him for several seconds, unsure if I should accept the help he was offering. Students were surely observing his every move after that article and I don’t want to give him trouble anymore.
“Aren’t you scared?” I mumbled.
“I mean . . . people are watching you.”
“Ah. That.” He smiled while staring at a distance. “Kita na lang tayo sa café na pinuntahan natin dati.”
“Are you sure?”
He sighed. “Not really. But I promised, and I don’t want to go back on my words.”
His words almost made me tear up. For a second, I wondered if I deserve his kindness . . . and then I felt guilty. As an administrator of the portal, I knew he would hate me once he learned about it.
“Thank you,” I said, trying hard to choke back my tears.
“No worries,” he replied as he smiled.
When I got home, I immediately opened my laptop and updated my ongoing stories. Then, I looked at that one offline story that I was working on. There were several minutes of hesitation. Of doubts and fear. But when I remembered what happened today, it gave me courage to continue.
With a deep breath, I posted the prologue on Nook and stared at the new story on my profile: Prince Not Charming.
“Pagod na ako,” Jess grumbled as she plopped beside me.
“Practice?” I asked.
She pouted in return. “And review. May exam pa ako next week.”
“Aww, poor child,” I said, caressing her hair.
“And that unknown particle didn’t even call me.”
I chuckled as she complained about Patrick. Among the three of them, I find Jess the cutest when it comes to their relationships. She likes to annoy and tease Patrick but showers him with love and concern when he’s not around.
“He’s busy, for sure,” I remarked.
“I know. Late na nga ‘yon lagi nagla-lunch this week. Akala niya nakakatuwa.”
“Cute mo,” I commented and Jess looked at me as if I said something odd.
“Ah! Teka, ganyan. Mag-Filipino ka. Like simula na ngayon. Nakalimutan ko na ‘yon, ah!”
“Cute-cute mo rin kapag nagsasalita,” she said between her snickers. “Baka may ma-inlove sa’yo niyan.”
Her energy was depleted a moment ago, but this time, she seemed too eager about this topic. I suddenly felt nervous.
“Speaking of, kumusta naman ‘yong nakita ko sa library last time?”
Oh. He remembered King. I thought he wouldn’t ask about him anymore after learning that he was friends with Stan.
“I told you, he just said came to me because I glared at them. Then, he told me he’s sorry for his friend’s behavior,” I explained, hoping that it would end there.
“Anong name niya?” she asked.
“I . . . I don’t know . . .”
“Ha! A lie!” she scoffed. “Ikaw pa ba? Lahat yata ng sikat at friends nila eh kilala mo by name.”
Jess looked determined and I couldn’t understand why I got worried. I guess my poker face game wasn’t good today.
“Jervin,” I mumbled.
“Oohh.” She had that teasing look on her face and I’m sure this wouldn’t end today.
“C’mon, Jess, he’s not—”
“I know, I know, pero malay mo. Cute kaya siya.”
“Though may reservations ako dahil friend niya ‘yong bwisit na ‘yon. Hmm . . .” She looked at me with a serious expression. “Ano bang type mo sa lalaki?”
I stared at her after hearing her question, and for a second, a face appeared in my mind. I felt the blood rushing to my face and I tried hard to push that thought at the back of my mind but . . .
“Oh my god!” she squealed. “You’re blushing! Hoy omg teka lang!”
The next thing I knew, she was already video-calling Alice and Steff. Before she could blabber anything, I snatched her phone and ended it.
Thank goodness Pat arrived and took Jess before she could interrogate me about it. I leaned on the chair, mentally exhausted. My cheeks still felt hot and I had to drink a glass of water to calm myself.
“That was close,” I mumbled.
Just a moment after that, I saw King walking on the corridor. He was busy checking his phone and it might be because of the pending article reviews. He was adjusting his glasses when he bumped into a girl. A smile escaped my lips as I watched him get flustered. He’s really clumsy, isn’t he?
I checked the portal and we had to review fifty-four articles today. To be honest, checking the articles had been causing me anxiety after my friends got involved. It was fun for a while but it felt like a misdeed now.
With a heavy heart, I opened the articles for review and approved those that were about the upcoming Feb Fair, as well as the positive ones. Fortunately, Alice didn’t get any article about her, though I doubt they would just stop talking about her.
I attended my remaining classes and after the last one, I saw Steff on the hallway. She waved at me and ran to my direction.
“Don’t you have a practice?” I asked while she linked arms with me.
“Katatapos lang,” she replied. “Come with me.”
“Let’s watch their practice.”
“Their? Huh? Who—”
She dragged me to the rehearsal room before I could ask. I realized what she meant when we were already in front of the room’s door.
She opened the door and all the people inside had their eyes on us. My heart sank and that moment, I wished I was invisible.
I heard Darryl’s voice, and when I glanced at him, he was already grinning lovingly at Steff. Patrick, Kevin and Gisel were also there and it looked like they just finished rehearsing a song.
“Already finished?” Steff asked.
“Nah,” Darryl answered. “May dalawa pang kanta.”
“Baka mahulog ka lalo,” he retorted and the guys whistled and laughed at him.
“I doubt it,” Steff said although I could see her ears getting red.
Darryl’s cheesy lines made the atmosphere light and somehow, I calmed down. While the rest were still teasing Steff and Darryl, I peeked at Gisel and I flinched when our gaze met each other.
He flashed a quick smile and pulled out his phone from his pocket. A second later, I saw a notification from Instagram.
calvingisel: See you again later :)
It felt like my heart would jump out of my mouth after reading that and seeing his expression. How could he act so composed?
I took a deep breath and replied away from Steff’s vision.
ynashin: yeah :>
ynashin: good luck on your practice
ynashin: which I am watching haha
They started the preparations for the next song and I saw him typing on his phone. A minute later, I was already having a hard time breathing.
calvingisel: I’m kinda nervous now that you’re watching haha
calvingisel: but thank you for coming :)
And the moment they started playing the next song, my heart raced every time he glanced at my direction.
It’s been three days since that horrific incident. Fortunately, the ranking of the article gradually went down due to the anticipation for the upcoming Feb Fair. And thank goodness I was wearing a simple black shirt with my hair covering my face taken at a bad angle, or else, they would have known my identity by now. God, that would be terrifying.
Gisel, on the other hand, got most of the attention. Eyes were following him everywhere, hoping that they would see the ‘girl’ who was photographed with him. He couldn’t even approach some of his girl classmates because it might lead to another rumor.
“Sa lahat ng Prince, siya lang talaga ang rare mong makikita sa articles,” Jess said while looking at Gisel who was walking on the hallway. “He looks annoyed.”
“Well, mas kawawa ‘yong babaeng kasama niya. For sure, tina-try pa rin siyang hanapin ng mga tao,” Alice added and I could feel the sincerity in her words. It must be because she was experiencing the same thing.
“It must be hard for the girl right now, knowing she got involved in this situation,” Steff remarked as she glanced at me.
We were here in the garden, eating snacks and discussing matters, since this was our only common vacant period.
“So, how’s the pre-Feb Fair for you two?” I asked, changing the topic quickly.
Jess immediately rolled her eyes and grunted. “Tinitingnan ko pa lang ‘yong schedule for next week, parang hihimatayin na ako sa pagod.”
“I need chocolates,” Steff mumbled.
“So, what’s the theme this year?” I asked.
“Oo nga, ano nga ba?” Alice added.
However, Steff and Jess remained tight-lipped. Hmp. Stingy.
After that, we got to ask Alice about what happened between Kevin and her. In the end, she confessed that he was courting her and the things he said that made her fall deeply. I had to take a mental note so that I could tweak those words and incorporate those into the story based on them.
As if on cue, we saw Kevin walking toward us and Alice couldn’t even keep a straight face. She was flushed and embarrassed and the three of us enjoyed that sight.
Steff and Alice also left to attend fair-related meetings. I wanted to go to the library but after what happened last time, it might not be the right choice. In the end, I went to the café where we met last time since I don’t have any class this afternoon.
On the way, I checked my social media accounts and remembered him when I was on Instagram. Right. He must be busy, too, as a Campus Prince.
I pulled my laptop from my bag and started updating my stories. Good thing there were only a couple of customers so it was not distracting.
Hearing Alice’s stories made it easier to write. I could imagine them in the scenes, as if they were leading me to the best part of the story. Last two chapters and it would be finished. I kinda feel sad.
I checked my phone and saw notifications from the group . . . oh. It was just from King.
kingtrex: hi angel
kingtrex; that’s kinda weird now since I already know you
yeoshin: haha you’re right
yeoshin: but I still prefer calling you as King instead of Jervin Castillo
kingtrex: oh you already know my name
yeoshin: it’s pretty easy to find haha
kingtrex: is that so, Yna Shin?
A smile escaped my lips as I continued replying to him. I’m glad we didn’t get awkward after that accidental meeting.
kingtrex: but are you okay?
yeoshin: hmm? Yes. Why?
kingtrex: well, that article . . .
kingtrex: it’s you, right?
I shuddered upon reading his message. How did he . . .
kingtrex: don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone
yeoshin: how did you know?
kingtrex: just a hunch . . .
kingtrex: haha actually nevermind
yeoshin: thank you, king :)
kingtrex: no worries, angel :)
I sighed in relief after his reassurance. Somehow, I felt guilty for judging him when I saw him with Stan before. King’s a nice guy, after all.
After updating my stories, I opened the one I was writing offline. I already had written five chapters but I was still hesitant to post it, since it was based on him. What if he decided to read it and noticed something? Oh god, I wouldn’t want that to happen.
I spent four hours in the café and I decided to go home. However, while checking my things, I realized I forgot my readings in the locker so I had to go back to the campus.
When I arrived at the campus, people were busy setting up the open field for Feb Fair. Jess and Steff must still be practicing even though it was already past 7 P.M.
I went to the locker room and got the readings. As I was walking, I could hear some singing and dancing in the rehearsal rooms. Somehow, I kinda feel excited for this year’s Feb Fair.
Darryl was visible from my line of sight and I could see that he was enjoying the song, even though I couldn’t hear anything from here. I remembered Gisel singing during the Foundation day, and for a second, I wanted to hear his voice again.
That thought got me a bit flustered and I looked around, afraid that someone might be watching. I hurriedly walked away as I pushed my thoughts at the back of my mind. I was about to leave the campus when I saw something behind the Arts and Letters building. With careful steps, I approached the place and halted when I saw Gisel leaning against the wall, already asleep.
Why does he always sleep here?
I was contemplating whether to wake him up since it was already dark and he might be bitten by mosquitoes, or just leave him be. In the end, I sat down and watched him for a few seconds.
He looked exhausted. I kind of feel sorry for him. The articles published about him must have worsened the stress, especially since he didn’t want to be the center of attention.
I was surprised when he suddenly moved. My first thought was to leave immediately but I wasn’t able to move when his eyes fluttered open.
It felt like the world had stopped and I wished I was invisible or I would just sink to the ground, unnoticed. He was still in daze but his eyes were staring right into mine. There were a few seconds of suffocating silence and I was hoping he couldn’t heart my heart thumping loudly against my chest.
Despite the darkness, I could see the loneliness in his eyes.
“Nadamay ka tuloy,” he softly said. “I should have been more mindful.”
“It’s okay,” I replied. “It’s not your fault.”
“How’s practice?” I asked, trying to change the mood.
He just stared at me for several seconds and it was too nerve-wracking that I had to look down to avert his gaze. Just when I was about to collapse from the tension, I heard him chuckling.
“It’s tough,” he said.
“I . . . I see. No wonder you fell asleep here.”
“Yeah. Though Darryl and Kevin are still practicing. I cou—”
He wasn’t able to finish his sentence because his stomach growled. This time, he was the one to turn his eyes away. But there was another rumbling and we both snickered.
“Mukhang kailangan ko nang mag-dinner,” he said as he scratched his head in embarrassment.
“Yeah,” I replied. “Practice must be really tough.”
We both stood up and I was ready to go when he suddenly asked me a question.
“Nag-dinner ka na ba?”
“Uhm . . . not yet.”
“Sabay na tayo?”
I wasn’t sure if I heard that right. Did he ask me to eat with him or I just misheard him?
Then, a lot of questions and scenarios lingered in my mind. He was the subject of the articles recently and being with him would be a risk. I couldn’t stand getting unwanted attention, and I’m sure he feels the same way, too, but this time . . . just this time . . . it felt different.
“Ah. Sorry, you must be—”
I pulled my cap from my bag and put it on his head. “O-okay,” I mumbled.
He was silent for a second but grinned afterwards, the kind that made his eyes disappear into squints, and readjusted the cap.
I followed close behind but he matched my pace and walked beside me. I glanced at him and our gaze met each other.
I could hear him chuckling but I kept my gaze forward. And that night, I had finally thought of a good title for that story.
I was too invested in writing a new story that I didn’t notice the time. My head hurt and I was tempted to stay at home if it weren’t for a quiz in one of my subjects today.
Around lunch, I went to the library to sleep and fortunately, my favorite spot was vacant. I pulled some books from the shelves and placed it on my table so that it looked like I just fell asleep while reading them.
I was about to sleep when my phone vibrated. Several notifications from the portal popped up and I realized today was the release of the results for the qualifying exam. Most of the newest articles were about it. I opened one, which was focused on our batch, and as expected, all of them passed in their respective choices of special courses.
Yna: Hey Steff, Jess! Congrats!
Yna: Qualifying exams results are already out lol
Jess: Mas mataas ba ako kay Pat?!
Steff: Sinong mas mataas sa amin ni Darryl?
Alice: Hahaha may deal na naman ba kayo?
Steff: Haha yup
Jess: Yabang kasi niya eh
Yna: Darryl > Jess > Steff > Patrick
Jess: HAH YES
Yna: Alice, Kevin also passed
Yna: just in case you wanna know lol
He passed the exams, too. I wanted to congratulate him but I wasn’t sure if we were close enough for that. I rested my head on the table after deciding not to. My eyelids were gradually getting heavy and I drifted to sleep.
I was woken up by a heavy thud. Lifting my head and turning around, I saw a book that was accidentally dropped by a student on the floor while pulling it off from the shelf.
“Oh. You’re awake.”
Hearing that familiar voice almost made me flinch. When I looked right across me, I saw Gisel who was busy reading a book. I just stared at him for a few seconds, wondering if I was still asleep and this was part of a dream, or maybe this was real and I just couldn’t believe he was really here.
He suddenly glanced at me as he placed his ring finger across his lips, gesturing me to stay quiet.
“Sorry, this was the only place here where I could read comfortably,” he said in whispers.
He was reading a reference book on Statistics and I frowned upon seeing that. Anything related to mathematics would never be a good view for me.
I heard him chuckle, his eyes disappeared into squints as he smiled. He slowly leaned toward me and I had to pull myself back because he was too close.
“Kumusta ang Aral Pil mo?” he whispered.
“Uhm . . . ayos lang,” I replied as calmly as possible.
“Hmm. May readings kayo?”
“Yeah. Pero hindi ako pa nakakapag-print.”
Was my sentence right? Oh, well, nevermind.
“Ah. Congrats pala,” I said in a small voice and he looked confused. God, I shouldn’t have said that.
“I mean . . . sa ano . . . qualifying exams.”
“Oh.” He flashed a warm smile. “Thank you.”
There were a few seconds of silence between us and somehow, it felt comfortable yet there was a hint of restlessness in my chest.
I knew it would spark a rumor if someone saw us together, just like what happened with Alice and Kevin. Honestly, I felt guilty whenever I looked at Alice getting conscious and worried. Being part of the administrative staffs of the portal meant I was partly responsible for her difficulties. Steff and Jess also disliked how the portal would invade people’s privacy and personal space so every time we talked about it, I felt anxious and uncomfortable.
“Okay ka lang?”
I was distracted by my thoughts that I didn’t notice him staring at me.
“Ah. Y-yeah.” I replied.
“Namumutla ka,” he remarked.
True enough, I was kind of tired and sluggish. I wanted to go home and sleep comfortably on my bed but I still got two subjects to attend later.
“Kulang tulog,” I mumbled as I tried hard not to yawn.
“Tulog ka lang,” he said. “Anong oras ba class mo?”
“Uhm, 3 P.M.”
“Okay. Gisingin na lang kita 15 minutes bago ang class mo.”
Instead of a reply, he just smiled at me and continued reading. I stared at him for a few seconds and heaved a sigh. He seemed serious about waking me up later so might as well use the remaining time to sleep.
The youngest prince wasn’t charming.
That was how people in the palace would describe him. Unlike his older brothers who exude elegance and nobility just by the way they stood, he was the carefree type. He didn’t care if he did something unroyal, as long as it made him happy.
“Hey,” he called, a big grin pasted on his face.
“You’re not a princess, right?”
“Ah. I envy you,” he said, laughing.
“Why? You have everything as a prince. Why would you envy someone like me?”
His eyes looked sad for a moment. “Because you’re free.”
I was awakened by the sudden shaking of the table. My eyes fluttered open, yet I was still bewildered. After a few seconds, I saw Steff staring at me and that snapped me out of disorientation.
“Steff?” I called, still confused.
She was reading a book and taking down notes. Maybe she was reviewing for a quiz or doing her homework. But why was she here? And where was he?
“Oh. Sakto,” she said. “Fifteen minutes na lang, class mo na.”
Steff closed the book and put her pen down. She stared at me as if she was looking right through my soul and honestly, it wouldn’t be weird if she already knew what was happening. She was exceptionally perceptive.
“Gisel was here a few minutes ago,” she noted.
“Gisel? Villanueva?” I asked, hoping she wouldn’t notice I was feigning oblivion.
“Yeah. Nagbabasa siya rito habang natutulog ka.” She looked around the library. “Well, mukhang puno rin naman doon sa unahan. I guess he saw this vacant seat.”
I quietly sighed in relief. Thank goodness she didn’t catch something. I actually thought he told her about my class but I remembered that Steff had already memorized our schedules this sem.
I tidied my things and was about to leave when Steff suddenly called me.
I halted and turned my head to her. “Hmm?”
She stared at me for a few seconds and smiled. “Wala. Go.”
It was a bit puzzling but I just let it go and went to my next class.
After my last class, I immediately went home to rest. I was browsing the web when I was on my way home but my screen was suddenly flooded by notifications from the admin group and portal.
moonlight: OMG GUYS
moonlight: BIG NEWS
cafemocha: haha yeah I saw that
cafemocha: in-approve ko rin kasi interesting
mugiwara: yup rare news alright
kingtrex: I don’t think so
cafemocha: meh kj
I went to the portal and almost dropped my phone when I saw one of the trending articles.
Prince Gisel and Sleeping Beauty
And there it was: a picture of him sitting across a sleeping girl in the library.
Chills went down my spine and panic started to rise through my throat. My body trembled in anxiety but somehow, I was a bit thankful that my face was covered by the book cover and my hair, or else I’d be thrown in the spotlight right away.
Ah. I hate this. I just want to disappear right now.