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.