It felt like my brain just short-circuited.
I was supposed to lead him to the best spot where we could see the cherry blossoms but he was the one pulling me now. My gaze landed to our hands and my face immediately felt hot.
“Dito?” he asked while turning his head behind and pointing at the right road.
I was so flustered that I just pointed at the left while looking at the ground. He just chuckled and continued walking. I was hoping he would finally let go of my hand but instead, his grip got tighter.
We arrived at the street with lesser people but most of them were couples. They were taking photos of themselves with the cherry blossoms as their background.
“Gusto mo?” he asked.
He pointed at the sakura tree beside us. “Picture-an kita?”
It took me a few seconds before his words sunk in my mind. I declined since I knew I would look awkward. He finally let go of my hand and started taking photos of the surroundings.
I sighed in relief as I stared at my shaking hand. His hand was warm and big enough to enclose mine. My cheeks got hot again after thinking how we just walked along the sakura trees while holding each other’s hand. It got to the point where I had to take off my cardigan because even my body got hot from the overwhelming feelings.
When I looked around, he was already getting asked by some couples to take their pictures. A smile escaped my lips as I watched him enjoy everything. I sneakily took a photo of him as he walked toward the sea of cherry blossoms but I almost stumbled when he suddenly turned to my direction.
“Yna,” he called and he pointed at the tree on his right side.
I went to his direction and stood beside him. We stared at the tallest and largest tree along the street and my heart fluttered upon thinking how romantic the ambiance was.
He suddenly chuckled, prompting me to look at him, and saw him staring at his phone. I wanted to ask what that was about but I didn’t have the courage. Our gazes met each other, and he grinned at me. My heart skipped a beat and I had to step back when he leaned closer.
“Look,” he said while showing me his phone. My mouth hung open when I saw a candid photo of mine, staring at the beautiful cherry blossom. “Maganda ba?”
I wasn’t able to answer because I was too flustered. The photo was aesthetically pleasing but me being the subject was too embarrassing.
He just snickered when I didn’t reply and we continued walking down the street. I kept my hands behind me and quietly followed him.
My lips curved upward as I stared at the flowers. The petals burst out from the boughs; others fluttered gently down the ground. It felt like I was a main character in a story that I was writing.
After spending some time in that street, he asked me where we should go next and I suggested Osulloc, a famous green tea house. We rode a taxi and I browsed my Instagram feed while we were on our way. Everyone seemed to be enjoying their vacation.
“May I post this?” he suddenly asked.
He showed me the photo I took a while ago while he was walking. He caught me doing it (which was so embarrassing), but he said he wanted a copy of it so I sent it to him.
“Eh? Mm,” I nodded. It was his photo anyway.
Few minutes later, we arrived at the tea house but it was packed. Luckily, there was a free space outside so we settled at the wooden table. He ordered Osulloc green tea, green tea roll cake and green tea ice cream for both of us.
“Masarap?” he asked after I tooka spoonful of ice cream.
I nodded. “Here.”
He scooped a spoonful, too, and smiled as the ice cream melted in his mouth. He must have liked it. We enjoyed our food as we watched the people passing by and the scenery. We also visited the green tea field just beyond the tea house.
My feet were already sore from walking. I didn’t know I would walk a lot today since I was only planning to see the cherry blossom and I wore my new sneakers. Surely, there would be blisters but I’d worry about that later.
“Are you okay?”
He stopped in front of me and I was about to say I was fine but his gaze drifted to my feet. He suddenly knelt and I had to sit, too, to prevent him from checking my feet.
“I-I’m okay!” I exclaimed but I almost lost my balance when I realized we were too close.
“I don’t think so,” he said while looking at my right foot. He sighed as his gaze returned to mine. “Sorry for being thoughtless.”
I waved both of my hands. “N-no, it’s not your fault!”
“You need to rest,” he added. “Hatid na kita sa hotel na tinutuluyan mo.”
“E-eh? No need—”
He smiled. “I insist.”
It was hard to turn down his offer. In the end, I gave in. We quietly waited for a taxi in the shed. I carefully scooted a few inches away from him because I didn’t want him to hear my racing heart. Honestly, I still couldn’t believe everything that happened today. It felt surreal. Even when he was right beside me, everything felt like a dream and I was afraid that I would snap back to reality.
We finally got a taxi after several minutes of waiting and he assisted me while getting inside.
“Are you still free tomorrow?” he queried.
“I still need a tour guide,” he chuckled.
Initially, I wanted to say no because I don’t think I could handle another day with him. My emotions were all over the place and being in a place away from the hypercritical eyes made everything more intimate. Every move of his was enough to get me flustered for several minutes. However, at the corner of my mind, I too was longing to spend some time with him after the portal incident.
“Okay,” I mumbled.
He craned his neck toward my direction. “Really?” he asked with a huge grin on his face.
My cheeks felt hot again but I managed to contain the panic. “M-mm.”
“Thank you,” he beamed. “But rest your feet and legs first.”
We arrived at the hotel I was staying and he accompanied me ‘til the main entrance.
“Thank you,” I muttered as we stood there.
He smiled and waved his hand. “Bye. Bukas ulit.”
I watched his figure as he walked away from me and I only sighed in relief when he boarded the taxi. My mind was reeling as I got into my room. I plopped on my bed and recalled everything that happened today.
Huh. I couldn’t believe I got to spend the day with him without worrying about rumors or articles that could get published. Still, I was still anxious because he seemed . . . different.
I remembered how he held my hand earlier and blood immediately rushed to my cheeks. Did that mean anything to him? I don’t like to assume anything because false hopes are the reason why a lot of people get hurt. He’s friendly in nature and he takes good care of the people around him. Maybe it was nothing special.
My shoulder tensed when my phone vibrated. I pulled it out of my purse and saw Steff’s name. I answered her call and saw her face on the screen.
“Hello,” she greeted with a teasing smile. “How’s Jeju?”
I gasped upon her question. “Ah! So you really knew?”
She giggled. “Kumusta ang padala ko?”
I blushed as his face came into my mind and immediately averted her gaze. When I passed out that day, I already somehow accepted that Steff would learn what was happening. The secret I kept for so long had been discovered.
“Alam mo, first time kong makita kang ganyan,” she added, the smile on her face getting wider. “When we were in high school, parang si Alice lang lagi ang may crush. It’s cute to see you getting shy.”
It was hard to keep a straight face when she kept on teasing me. In the end, I gave up and told her what happened today except him holding my hand.
“Heeeh~ that sounded like a date.”
I shook my head. “No, it’s not. I don’t think he’s—”
“Gisel is nice,” she added. “I like him for you.”
“Enjoy your date tomorrow~”
“I-it’s not a date!”
She shrugged her shoulders as she flashed a smile. “You should ask him if it really isn’t. Sige na, nandito na si Darryl.”
Before I could protest and ask questions, she had already ended the call. I stared at my phone, contemplating whether to call her again but she might tease me nonstop this time.
I heaved a sigh as I lay on my bed. A date, huh?
It was just 8 AM when I heard my phone rang. I groggily reached for it and placed it on top of my ear.
Hearing that voice felt like someone just poured cold water on me. It jolted me awake and I almost squealed as I sat up. I had to check my screen, too, to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating, and it was real. Gisel was on the other end of the line.
“Uhh . . . w-why?”
“I forgot to ask yesterday. Anong oras pala tayo magkikita?”
My brain was still lagging and I just realized everything that happened yesterday was real. I almost thought those were just parts of my dream.
“Hello? Yna?” he repeated.
“Uhm, 10 AM?” I answered, my voice shaking.
He huffed and I could imagine him grinning widely. Thank goodness it wasn’t a video call because my cheeks were already blushing.
“Sa café na lang ulit?” he asked.
“Alright. See you.”
Hearing that phrase made my heart race. I suddenly thought how easy it was to meet with him in this place and how this would never happen in the campus. Maybe Steff was right. Maybe I should just enjoy this moment until it lasts.
“Yeah,” I replied. “See you, too.”
I hope this would be a good day, too.