Two days before Christmas, my brother was finally here.
I received a text from him saying he had booked a car and he’d treat me for dinner since our parents would be in Japan until tomorrow evening.
Fortunately, I just finished typing updates for my story so I immediately posted them before getting ready. It’s hard for me to continue typing a chapter if I get interrupted in the middle of it, especially when I’m already in the zone.
Opening my account, I checked the messages and replied to the readers who sent me encouraging words. After that, I posted my updates.
Hi! Happy holidays, everyone! Here are some updates to cheer you up! Enjoy~
When I finally uploaded the latest chapters, I closed my laptop and dashed to the bathroom to get ready.
It’s been thirty minutes and he’s still not here so I decided to check my social media accounts but immediately regretted it.
Two days had passed since I last opened my Instagram because of Gisel. After reading his message, I tried my best to reply as casually as possible, but he didn’t respond anymore.
Hi! You can return it next year :>
Steff and Patrick posted photos so I just liked them and as usual, Alice and Jess were trolling in the comments. Alice seemed to be better compared last time and I just hope they could still fix everything between them.
I almost dropped my phone when someone suddenly slammed his hand on the table. Wide-eyed, I lifted my head and saw my brother smiling mischievously.
"You look ten years older," he commented as he sat down.
I rolled my eyes in return. "You look uglier."
It's been five months since he last returned here. I could still remember how he introduced himself to Kevin as Alice's boyfriend just to tease the both of them.
"Where's the honorifics?"
"You don't deserve it," I retorted.
He ruffled my hair and I glared at him in return. I was about to whine at him when he suddenly put a present in front of me.
“Where’s my thank you?” he said while smirking.
“Thanks,” I murmured.
I had been using the younger sister card for him to buy me gadgets in high school and college, and in return, he didn’t give me any Christmas presents . . . until now. Well, I didn’t spend that much this year and didn’t ask him for anything so maybe that was the reason I got one from him.
We ate dinner and talked about a lot of things. He said he’d been busy this year because he needed to learn a lot from the former CEO of one of our hotel businesses in Korea. It was turned over to him after he got his Master’s degree in business administration.
“Ah. What happened to Alice? I read your post about her,” he asked.
“Tsismoso,” I said after learning the meaning of that word from Jess.
“Oh? That’s not a basic word. Kanino mo naman ‘yan natutunan? Wait, it’s either Jess or Alice.”
Unlike me, my brother was fluent in Filipino and he had been teasing me since forever because I couldn’t be as good as him.
“You’re kinda improving,” he remarked. “Pero imposibleng tinuturuan ka ng tatlo dahil matagal na silang sumuko sa’yo.”
“Aish!” I huffed. “You better watch out, I’m gonna be fluent the next time you return.”
“Oh, really? How?”
“I’m . . . gonna learn that by myself.”
His eyes narrowed and that made me nervous. Among the people around me, he’s the one I am most cautious with. Maybe it was because he’s my brother but he could read me pretty well.
“Do you have a boyfriend right now?” he suddenly asked and I almost choked on my food.
“That better be true. He needs my permission first to court you,” he said with a serious expression on his face.
“As if I’ll have one,” I muttered.
After our dinner, we went home and he immediately fell asleep. I, too, resigned to my room, posted on Instagram, and checked the notifications from Kingdom Nook. His username was the first thing I saw, and it garnered a lot of replies.
iamaroyalty: Their misunderstandings were caused by their fear of acknowledging each other’s feelings. Why can’t people be honest with what they feel? I am genuinely curious.
It was the kind of question that would make you think of yourself, of what would you do if you were in their shoes, and some readers shared their thoughts about it.
ladyinwaiting: It can be because of pride. Admitting your feelings to a person gives them the power to hurt you and honestly, some people believe that the one who falls first lose.
knightmare: Recognizing what you feel toward someone and admitting it to him/her are two different things. Confessing is never easy. That shit is frightening because you don’t know how the other person will react.
queenofthenight: knightmare is right. They say you confess to a person not to hear their response but just to tell them what you really feel. But deep down, we all want them to feel the same way. We want to hear the same words, the same feelings. So sometimes, people just keep what they feel to themselves because they know the person they like do not feel the same.
doubleduchess: Uncertainty is also a factor. There are times when you’re unsure of what you feel and it’s hard to be honest when you’re still figuring it all out.
princesswho: Love, anger, fear. Those are primal feelings and most people can’t be rational when they feel these emotions.
etherealmaiden: Being honest with your feelings takes courage. And not all people have that ability.
Reading their response made me think about the characters, and I understood their sentiments. Alyssa, my lead character, couldn’t admit her love for Karl because she thought she didn’t deserve him. She had been insecure her whole life and Karl, who had been in the spotlight since the beginning, giving her all his attention made her pressured rather than feel loved.
Their discussion sparked some motivation in me and before I realized it, I had already typed three chapters. I posted the first two at around 2 A.M. and slept afterwards.
My brother’s voice woke me up and I groaned as he continued calling my name.
“What?” I grumbled with my eyes still closed.
“Maureen is coming,” he said.
“Come on, wake up.”
“Don’t want to.”
He kept on bugging me and in the end, my irritation had reached its peak and woke me up. I glared at him and saw him flinch. I would’ve laughed if I wasn’t too annoyed with him.
Ate Maureen was his childhood friend . . . and his first love. We all know they have feelings for each other, but they stayed as friends. I asked him one time why he still isn’t pursuing her and he said he still needs to prove himself.
“Alis na,” he said while giving me ten thousand pesos.
My brother would always win an argument against me, except when Ate Maureen is present. He knew I’d tease him endlessly and that would surely ruin his perfect image. So whenever she comes here, he would always bribe me to go out so I wouldn’t be able to say bad things about him.
“I hope she rejects you once you confess,” I jeered at him as I stepped out of the house.
“You little . . .”
“Bye! Enjoy it while it lasts!”
It was kind of refreshing to see his frustrated expression and that made my mood a bit better. I booked a car and went to my favorite coffee shop. It was a bit far from home but I liked spending my time here because there were only few people and the ambiance was great for writing.
I went directly to the counter and ordered the usual: iced caramel macchiato and a slice of red velvet cake. Upon receiving the pager, I turned around, walking to my usual spot, but I halted when I saw someone sitting there.
He was just wearing a plain t-shirt and jeans yet he stood out. It was the first time I saw him with a serious look on his face as he stared intently and typed at his laptop. It took me a while to realize I was gawking at him and that made my face flushed. I was about to make a turn and hide from him when he suddenly lifted his head up and met my eyes.
There were a few seconds of silence, as if the world just stopped for a while. And then he smiled.
The kind of smile that would make your heart thump a little. The kind that would make you want to smile, too.
“Hey,” he said, still smiling.
He tapped the table and gestured at the empty couch in front of him. I wanted to run away but it would be rude to just ignore him. In the end, I sat right across him.
“Here,” he softly said while gently putting the cap he accidentally took on my head. “Thank you for lending that to me.”
“Ah. Uhm, no worries.”
I couldn’t look at him so I scrolled through my feed, though I wasn’t able to read or understand any post.
My body tensed upon hearing my name. It still felt weird even though he had already called me a couple of times.
“Nothing,” he replied as he flashed a smile and I had to lean back, afraid that he’d hear my racing heart.
I breathed deeply, trying to calm myself. Maybe this was my karma for teasing my brother.
Now, I just want to go home.
I was supposed to celebrate Christmas with our relatives in Korea but I opted to stay because of two reasons: My brother and Alice. He said he’d come here instead so our parents decided to just spend the holiday here. On the other hand, Alice would be alone this Christmas because her Mom and Dad would be on business trips for the rest of the vacation break.
“Yup. I’m here na. Okay.”
Mickey, our driver, stopped the car right in front of Alice’s house and he helped me with the things I brought. A few seconds later, Alice came into the view and she immediately hugged me. I got worried because she only hugs us when she’s hurt or lonely.
We went inside their house and I sat on the couch in the living room. Jess would be late and Steff couldn’t come here because she’d spend the break in Canada with her family.
“Ah, saan pala si Tita at si Tito?” I asked awkwardly and I felt embarrassed after speaking in Filipino.
I was expecting Alice to laugh at me but she showed me tears instead. I ran to her and gave her a hug, just enough for her to feel secured and comforted.
Alice seldomly cries and seeing her bawl her eyes out made my heart heavy. It took her a few minutes to calm down and she told me the reason why she couldn’t attend yesterday.
“At least, Tita’s okay now,” I said to lessen her worries.
“Yeah,” she smiled but I could see the pain in her eyes.
I couldn’t believe Kevin did that, but Tito was at fault, too. It was frustrating because Alice had to get hurt by both men she trusts the most.
“Tara, let’s eat outside,” I said as I pulled her arm.
“Huh? ‘Di ba may dala kang food—”
She finally nodded and we booked a ride to the nearest restaurant. We ordered everything she wanted to eat and a glass of beer.
“Cheers!” we yelled as we shared a toast.
Alice always cheers us up and this time, I want to do the same thing to her.
I snapped a shot of her and posted it on my Instagram.
To the brightest person I know, do not let anyone dim your light. 힘내~!
“Ah. Ano palang nangyari kahapon sa Foundation Day?” Alice suddenly asked after taking a sip of beer. “Sabi ni Jess, hindi ka na raw nila nakita.” Her eyes narrowed and gave me a suspicious look. “You seem busy these days.”
I forced a laugh. “As if. I was just roaming around.”
“Kasi may ibang hinahanap?” she teased.
“How about you?” I retorted. “Ikaw hinahanap ba?”
“Hoy, Yna! Foul ‘yan ha! Napaka mo!”
Her reaction was too funny and I was glad her energy was coming back. Although she almost stabbed my hand with her fork.
I checked my notifications and Jess messaged me on Instagram.
HOY WHERE ARE YOU? MALAPIT NA AKO SA BAHAY NINA ALICE!
As if on cue, Jess called me so I told her to just come here.
“Hindi n’yo man lang ako hinintay!” she complained.
“Luh, ikaw ba may problema? Bida? Bida?” Alice retorted.
“Alam mo, pasalamat ka friend kita!”
“Eh ‘di thank you!”
Their banters made the atmosphere better and truthfully, I enjoyed listening to them. Steff and I are not funny so we like to listen to those two who are natural entertainers. Besides, it’s easier for me to learn Filipino context whenever they tease each other.
I was having a good time but I suddenly remembered what happened last night when I heard a familiar song.
♫ And I don't want the world to see me
'Cause I don't think that they'd understand
When everything's meant to be broken
I just want you to know who I am ♫
He really looked like a prince yesterday. He belongs in the spotlight, just like the other Campus Princes.
“Grabe, most viewed ‘yong video nila,” Alice muttered.
It turned out Alice was playing the video of their performance last night and true enough, it already garnered half a million views.
“Why are you watching that?” I asked. “You’re supposed to be mad at him.”
“Alam ko, pero kasi . . . I kinda miss him,” she softly said.
“Heol. Soreum,” (Oh my god. Goosebumps,) I said as I hugged my own arms. “You really fell so hard.”
“Ugh, don’t say it. Pati ako nagc-cringe.”
“It’s kinda funny because we were cringing so hard when Steff and Jess admitted they were in love. Now, you’re in that stage, too.”
“Kapag talaga ikaw nagka-crush, ewan ko na lang kung ano ang magiging reaction namin,” she replied.
“What? Yna has a crush?!”
Jess arrived and she immediately sat down beside me with a surprised expression.
“Who?” she asked. “Totoong tao ba?”
“As far as I know, So Ji Sub and Lee Dong Wook are real people,” I replied.
Alice grunted and Jess rolled her eyes at me which made me snicker. I had kept my other personas from them for year. As if I’d reveal that kind of information. Besides, I don’t have a crush on someone right now . . . I think.
Alice told Jess about her problems, too, and she almost called Patrick since Kevin is his cousin. I remembered Gisel telling me that Patrick seemed worried about Kevin since he looked distraught during their practice.
We spent the night talking about everything and then we went to a karaoke hub. It was almost 10 P.M. when I went home. After I took a shower, I plopped on my bed and checked my social media accounts. I was browsing my Instagram feed when a follower notification popped up.
calvingisel started following you.
I had to sit down and rub my eyes to see if I was just seeing things but when I looked at my phone again, the notification was still there. I checked his profile to see if it was really him and verified it when I saw the people who were following the account.
It seemed like he followed our batch’s campus princes and princesses, as well as Alice and I, which gave me a wave of anxiety. I had an influx of followers, probably those who were following him, and I had to switch to private because it might spark some rumors.
moonlight: omg online si Calvin sa ig!
mugiwara: ay wow stalker
moonlight: hahaha hindi ah! Nagkataon lang!
cafemocha: once in a blue moon lang siya mag-online ‘di ba?
cafemocha: tapos he just followed a bunch of people hahaha
moonlight: for sure magkakaroon ‘to ng article
I got anxious after reading their conversation, especially when Moon mentioned about a probable article. The writer might mention the accounts he followed and they would surely question why a mere student like me was included.
I was contemplating whether to block or message him when King messaged me.
kingtrex: he followed you too
It was still hard to get used to the fact that we knew each other’s identity but at least, I have someone to talk to about it.
yeoshin: yeah :(
kingtrex: will that be okay?
yeoshin: Idk haha but he followed Alice too so I guess it’s alright
kingtrex: I see
yeoshin: but I’m worried about the probable articles
kingtrex: well if the two of us reject them, they can’t publish them
yeoshin: yeah but they may get suspicious
kingtrex: hmm you have a point
A few seconds later, Jess started bombarding our group chat to update Steff about what happened earlier, and Gisel’s action.
Jess: Grabe puro girls nagfa-follow sa akin ngayon dahil kay Gisel!
Steff: haha same
Alice: Bakit pati ako finollow niya?
Jess: Aba malay ko! Tanong mo siya hahaha
Steff: He followed Yna too
Yna: Yeah. Weird.
Jess: Baka kasi friends namin kayo
Alice: Luh eh di naman kami close
Jess: eh bakit si Kevin fina-follow mo pa rin, hindi naman na kayo close
Jess: nasend, ‘di ko nabura
Alice: SARAP MO RING TIRISIN EH
Alice: KAYA KA SIGURO MALIIT KASI MAS MALAPIT KA SA IMPYERNO
Alice: kampon ka talaga ng kadiliman
Jess: hahahahaha love you
Jess: kampi pa rin naman ako sa’yo
Alice: love you mo mukha mo
Steff: there they go again
Yna: I can’t understand but
I went back to Instagram and viewed his profile. He posted for the first time and it was a short clip of playing a piano with lyrics as a caption.
There she goes, there she goes again, racing through my brain.
The way he sang the song as he played the piano made me reminisce his performance last night. His voice made my heart flutter.
In the end, instead of blocking him, I decided to just follow him back and like his post . . . but that seemed like a bad choice because I received a message from him, along with his picture.
calvingisel: hey :) nasa akin pa pala ‘yung cap mo
I honestly thought it was just his voice that moved me but seeing that photo made my heart race so bad that I thought I’d get a heart attack. It took me several minutes to come to my senses.
This is why I hate feeling feelings. Because feelings create expectations. And expectations often lead to disappointment and heartbreak. And I don’t want to experience those things.