I didn’t know where to look when our gaze met each other. My fingers started fiddling with the bag I was holding. His presence was rattling me so much it was hard to pretend I was calm.
“What? You okay?” asked Xander.
“Y-yeah,” I murmured.
“I’ll buy coffee. May papabili ka?” I shook my head. “Okay.”
The screen of my phone lit up and I almost yelped when I saw his name on the notifications. I remembered the things I said before and suddenly, I wanted to unsend them. Those Filipino words were surely wrong.
It was hard to look alright when he’s just sitting right across me. I wanted to talk to him but I wasn’t sure how. Besides, approaching someone wasn’t my strong suit.
With a deep breath, I slowly opened his message.
calvingisel: I just read them now
calvingisel: you’ve improved :)
calvingisel: would you like to talk with me now?
My heart skipped a beat upon reading that, but panic took over when I realized what that meant.
ynashin: please no, not in front of my brother!
ynashin: saan pala ikaw pupunta?
I heard him chuckle, prompting me to glance at him, but he caught my gaze. He smiled at me and I had to stifle a gasp. It had been so long since I last saw that familiar smile of his.
calvingisel: Jeju. You?
It took several seconds before his reply sank in my head and I almost dropped my phone when my brain finally processed that information. I could hear myself screaming internally because I didn’t expect I’d see him there.
Xander came back before I could reply. He had coffee and bread on his hands. My stomach rumbled as soon as he sat next to me and he knew that that was his cue to poke fun at me.
“Your stomach’s getting jealous,” he said as he bit a huge portion of his bread. “You should stop dieting.”
“I’m not dieting,” I hissed. “I just don’t feel like eating a while ago.”
“I’m gonna tell that to granny,” he threatened.
Our grandma doesn’t like seeing us eating little amount of food. She would always prepare a big feast whenever we visit them during summer and winter, telling us we should eat until our stomach couldn’t take in food anymore and just burn the calories thru exercise instead of unhealthy eating habits.
If Xander tells grandma I’m dieting, she’d definitely believe him.
“Fine, I’ll eat,” I grumbled as I stood up.
He smirked. “Good girl.”
We still got an hour and a half before the scheduled flight so I thought I’d buy a breakfast meal. When I was already at a safe distance, I took a glance at his direction but I halted when I saw him getting ready for his flight. I fished my phone out of my pocket and replied.
ynashin: 곧 보자~ (See you in a few days~)
Grandma greeted us as soon as we stepped inside our family home in Seongbuk-dong. As expected, the dining table getting filled with food by the housekeepers. Seeing the dishes made my stomach grumble. The flight was almost four hours and an hour-drive to Seongbuk-do.
“Halmeoni~” (Grandma~) I called as I hugged her.
She gently pressed my arms. “Waegeureohge marratni? Neoneun deo meogeoyahae.” (Why are you so thin? You should eat.)
Xander and I immediately dug into the food while grandma told us stories about her new friends. Since this neighborhood is known for being the home of wealthy people and country ambassadors, she sometimes invites some of them in her tea parties. She also asked about Steff and Alice and she said she wanted to see them again. I told her they would visit soon along with Jess and that made her more excited.
We went to our own rooms after lunch and I spent the afternoon in the balcony, drinking tea and reading a book. One of the things I liked in grandma’s home was the neighborhood and nature view from the upper floors, which creates a calm and refreshing ambiance.
When it was already dark, I went back to my room and prepared for my trip tomorrow. I finally opened my phone and saw updates from my friends. Steff and Darryl were already in the airport and they looked excited for their Japan trip. Jess was trying out her outfits for Europe. Meanwhile, Alice said she was bored so she started a video call.
“Gusto ko ring mag-travel!” she whined while lying on her bed. “Naiinggit na ako!”
“Ayain mo nga si Kevin,” Jess suggested. “O kaya mag-solo travel ka like Yna.”
“How’s your grandma pala?” asked Steff.
“She wants to see the three of you,” I said. “You should come here some other time.”
“Omg gusto ko na rin siyang makita!” Jess exclaimed.
“Speaking of solo travel pala, papunta ka na ba sa Jeju?” Alice asked.
I shook my head. “Tomorrow pa.”
“Si Kuya Xander? Saan siya?”
“I think he’s going to visit his friends.”
“Good luck sa Jeju,” Steff commented.
The call ended when their flight was called for boarding. I checked Nook after and read the comments but was surprised when I saw a familiar username. He never commented in that story, which was honestly better because the leading guy was based on him, so seeing his username there almost gave me a mini heart attack.
iamaroyalty: Hmm. Reading this reminded me of something. Haha. I hope they resolve their misunderstandings :)
I threw my phone on the bed and stifled a scream as I processed that information. Oh, god, did he really read it?
A lot of thoughts swarmed in my head as I remained seated on the edge of my bed. After a few minutes, I reached for my phone and checked the comment section again. His comment was still there. My eyes weren’t playing tricks on me.
I plopped on my bed and stared vacantly at the ceiling. Several seconds later, I covered my face with a pillow as I squealed in embarrassment and frustration.
The current chapters were about a misunderstanding between the carefree prince and the commoner girl he befriended while in disguise. I wrote those chapters after they found out that I was an admin in the portal. It was easy to write because the girl’s thoughts and feelings mirrored mine that time.
And he just read everything. Oh my god. Suddenly, I don’t want to go to Jeju anymore.
I said I’d just sleep the whole day but Xander woke me up, telling me I’d be late and he would, too, if I don’t start moving. It turned out he would drive me to Gimpo airport since one of his friends’ home was nearby. I went to the plane begrudgingly and arrived after an hour and a couple of minutes.
After renting a car, I drove to the hotel I would be staying and rested for a bit. I was still not sure what I would do for the rest of the day as I didn’t plan for this trip but one thing I would always love to see in Jeju was the pretty cafés.
I went to a nearby café but I halted when I saw Gisel inside. I thought I was hallucinating but when he turned to my direction, looked at me with a surprise expression and smiled several seconds later, only then I realized it was the real him.
Remembering his comment in my story made me want to run and hide from him but my body wouldn’t listen. I didn’t want to bump into him for the rest of my stay here because I was embarrassed but it seemed like fate didn’t want me to live an easy life.
Come to think of it, we were supposed to meet at a café before everything went awry. Now, we ended up meeting unexpectedly in a café after that mess.
He smiled at me again and motioned for me to sit where he was. I reluctantly walked toward his direction, my heart racing faster for every step. I sat right across him but I couldn’t meet his gaze.
“See you in a few days,” he said, which made me look at him.
I was greeted by his squinting eyes and broad smile. Seeing that up-close again almost sent me into a panic. It took me a while before I realized he just uttered the last message I sent him.
He chuckled upon seeing my expression. “I asked Darryl to translate that for me.”
“Oh,” I muttered.
“I thought you meant once returning to the Philippines.” He leaned his right elbow on the table and placed his hand on his face. “Hindi ko akalaing makikita kita rito.”
It was hard to stay calm because he was staring at me. I shifted in my seat and tried to focus my gaze on the coffee in front of him.
“Uhh . . . I . . . y-yeah.”
My brain wasn’t working well, and I ended up mumbling incoherent words. I was embarrassed and nervous and giddy all at the same time.
Hearing him call my name made me flinch. Suddenly, my cheeks felt hot.
He flashed an apologetic smile. “Sorry. I want to personally apologize for how I acted that day—”
“N-no,” I said, frantically waving my hand back and forth. “What you said in the messages was already enough.”
“I don’t want to cry,” I reasoned but he looked confused.
I was never good in a head-on conversation about my problems or those involving me. I cried my heart out when I explained everything to my friends and I’m pretty sure I will also cry if this continues.
He let out a sigh. “Alright. Pero ayos na ba kayo nina Tiffany?”
“Mm,” I nodded.
I thought I could escape the topic after that but he asked about them and what happened during the time we weren’t on speaking terms. Fortunately, I managed to control my emotions and didn’t cry.
“So nagkabati na pala kayo the day na nakita kita sa cafeteria.”
“Mm. After that. I felt bad for Ki—Jervin because he waited for me for a long time.”
“Jervin?” he asked. “Ah. That guy . . .”
If it weren’t for King, I wasn’t sure how I would survive those two days. Right. I should buy him a gift, too.
“Are you . . .” he started asking but his voice trailed off.
He smiled. “Nevermind.”
He let me order after that and we talked about the things we did before the vacation. I just learned that Steff and Darryl were the ones who suggested about going to Jeju-do. He said she told him it would be a nice place to relax and to be carefree.
I suddenly remembered Steff’s remark yesterday and I wondered if that was related to this.
“I booked a one-week trip without any itinerary,” he snickered after drinking his coffee. “I thought it would be nice to just enjoy everything in my own pace.”
“Oh. Me, too,” I said, earning a curious look from him.
“Mm. But just for three days.”
He also told me where he was staying and coincidentally, it was just a few minutes away from mine. No wonder we met here.
“Since you’re here, what places would you suggest that I should visit?” he asked after finishing his breakfast and coffee.
“Hmm, there are a lot, but since it’s spring, you should see the cherry and canola blossoms. Halla-san and Udo would be good, too.”
“Cherry blossoms, huh?” he muttered. “Doon ka rin pupunta?”
“Uhm . . .”
“Samahan mo ako,” he said and I almost choke on my coffee. He chuckled as he gave me paper napkins. “Okay ka lang ba?”
“Eh? Uhh, y-yeah.”
“Sasamahan mo na ako?” he asked while slightly tilting his head, his right hand still on his chin.
It was hard to say no if he was looking like that. I heaved a sigh and nodded. His face lit up and continued staring until I finished my food.
We got out of the café and went downtown. As usual, the streets were packed because of the Cherry Blossom Festival. There were a lot of tourists and locals who were also there to see the King Cherry Tree blossoms.
It was difficult to walk through the crowd and then checking if he was still behind me every minute. There was an ongoing tug-of-war competition and karaoke stations in the middle of the street so a lot of people were gathering there.
I was about to look behind, but I was surprised when I felt his hand on my wrist and it slid into my palm. The hairs on my arm bristled and my skin tingled. It was so sudden that I just stood there, frozen.
“I thought I lost you,” he casually said. “Ang bilis mong maglakad.”
My mind was still reeling that I just uttered incomprehensible sounds. I cleared my throat and faced forward, trying to act as calm as possible despite my heart pounding loudly against my chest.
He didn’t let go of my hand and I didn’t mind.
That moment, it felt like there were just the two of us.
That moment, it felt like he just crossed a line he didn’t mean to cross . . . and maybe, I did, too.