My heart fluttered as soon as I saw him sitting in the corner of the café. Maybe it was just me but he looked a lot better now compared before. It felt like he was radiating beauty and good aura.
Our eyes met each other and he immediately gave me a big smile while waving at my direction. I shyly nodded and I went inside.
“Good morning,” he greeted.
“Good morning,” I returned.
It was quite awkward, at least for me, to talk to him after what happened yesterday and what Steff talked about. He asked me about the itinerary today so I showed him places that we could visit and told him to just pick among them.
“Hmm . . . want to go to the beach?” he asked.
Besides the cherry blossoms, one of the places I wanted to visit when I got here was the beach. Summer wouldn’t be complete without visiting one.
“Okay,” I replied.
“But the beaches must be packed right now,” he added.
I thought about that and pointed an island off the eastern coast of Jeju. I went here before but I didn’t enjoy it because I had my period that day. Xander had to pick me up right after I arrived.
“We can go in Udo,” I suggested.
Udo is a separate island which is located a few kilometers away from the main island. However, compared to Jeju, there are less visitors in Udo and is less commercialized so visitors could enjoy the scenic and natural view.
We hailed a taxi when we got out of the café and he drove us to Seongsan port. Along the trip, we saw the sakura trees and canola in full bloom, and I couldn’t help but smile at the scenery.
“You really like flowers,” he commented and I didn’t realize he was watching me.
My cheeks suddenly felt hot. “Oh. Y-yeah.”
“You must have received a lot of bouquets during Valentine’s,” he teased.
I shook my head. “No, no. I rarely receive anything. Besides, I don’t like flowers that way.”
“I think flowers look best in their natural habitat,” I reasoned. “Giving flowers in bouquets as a present seems like a waste of money because they die after a few days. I’d rather visit a flower field than receive something like that.”
He stared at me with a curious look on his face. I averted his gaze after I rambled about my preference in flowers. That was quite embarrassing.
“S-sorry, that was un—”
“It’s romantic,” he said.
He smiled as he looked at the falling sakura petals carried by the wind. He didn’t say anything anymore, which made me more curious. I wonder what he was thinking.
We arrived at the port after almost an hour. He volunteered to wait in the line and let me rest in the designated waiting area. After several minutes, he handed me the ticket and we went to the ferry.
It was just a fifteen-minute ferry ride and we watched as the island getting closer. Seeing the lighthouse made me smile a little. I admit, I’m a hopeless romantic so a view like this could move my heart with ease.
We got off the ferry and went to a bicycle rental shop since you could only go around here with that or public buses. Getting your own car here would cost a lot and there wouldn’t be enough parking space, hence, it would just be a hassle.
“Can you ride a bike?” he asked.
I nodded reluctantly. “I-I think so.”
It had been a while since I last rode a bike. I remembered how Xander laughed at me when I almost hit a post when he was teaching me how to ride it.
Fortunately, my body could still remember, though I was unstable in the first few minutes. He adjusted his pace and looked out for me, which I was thankful for. We rode quietly as we enjoyed the view and searched for a restaurant or a café where we could have our lunch.
We stopped by a nearby café and ordered some black pork burgers and peanut ice cream—the delicacies of this island.
“Masarap?” I asked, worried that he wouldn’t like the food I recommended.
He nodded. “Mm. Didn’t know black pork tastes different and better than the regular one.”
I was relieved that he was enjoying it. He seemed really hungry as he ordered another one. I chuckled upon seeing him eat like a kid.
After having lunch, we rode our bicycles again and went to the beach several meters from here. There were only two persons aside from us so it felt like the place was just for us.
He happily ran toward the white sand and I followed behind. I snapped a photo of him while he enjoyed the salty air and the view. I was about to take another one when he turned toward my direction and grinned widely.
“Ah. Did you take a photo?” he asked.
Despite the blood rushing to my cheeks, I nodded. “I-it’s good.”
I showed him the photos I took and asked me to send them to him. He unfolded and laid a blanket, which he said he bought at a nearby store, and we sat there while appreciating the emerald water. The café at the back was blasting some good music, too.
We talked about the food we just ate a while ago, music and other stuff, but my heart sank when the topic diverted to the campus. It felt like I got slapped by reality, reminding me that this would just be a short-lived enjoyment.
He sighed as he threw a stone at the sea. “I hope the advanced courses won’t be that hard.”
“You’re smart,” I commented. “Kaya mo iyan.”
He tilted his head to my direction and smiled. “Nag-i-improve ka na talaga.”
I had to lean away because his closeness was giving me butterflies in the stomach. I wanted to say that he helped me a lot but I got tongue-tied. Despite seeing him up-close a couple of times, I still couldn’t get used to it.
Once the academic year starts, it would be hard to see him again. I remembered how harsh the articles written about Alice before when they associated her with Kevin. When we appeared on the same article, the time that I faint, some people were already throwing hurtful comments at me despite the article saying he was just there because Steff asked for his help.
His voice jarred me back to the present and I realized I was lost in thought.
“Hmm? Sorry, ano ang sabi mo?”
“Ayos ka lang ba?” he asked with a worried expression on his face.
I gave him a quick smile. “Mm.”
After minutes of convincing him that I was okay, we visited other beaches, which were mostly deserted, and went to two more cafés. The sun was already setting when we decided to get back to the main island. Seeing the sun set and how the colors in the sky changed from orange to pink to purple while we were in the ferry felt magical.
We arrived at the port and I realized I would be leaving tomorrow noon. The next time I would see him would probably be in the campus. That kind of made me sad as I enjoyed being with him away from the eyes of the students.
After we got off the taxi, we walked through a crowded street. I almost reached for his hand instinctively when a group of friends moved between us but realized what I was about to do so I pulled back. My cheeks were flushed as I continued walking with my head down.
My shoulders flinched when I felt a hand on mine. His warmth spread onto my hand and my face that I couldn’t lift my head up anymore because I was too embarrassed.
He didn’t say anything and we just walked quietly along the crowded street. My heart was throbbing painfully and a lot of questions flooded my mind.
Why did he hold my hand? Is he just being nice? Doesn’t he get embarrassed? How does he see me? Am I just assuming things? Will this end once we return home?
My thoughts became more gloom ridden as time went by that even the picturesque view of the sakura and canola petals felt dull.
We arrived at the café where we met earlier and he finally let go of my hand.
“Ayos ka lang ba talaga?” he softly asked. “Mukhang pagod ka na.”
“O-okay lang ako,” I replied.
“Hatid na kita sa hotel—"
I pulled the hem of his shirt and that made him halt. He turned to me with a confused look and I glanced at the café in return. It took me a lot of courage to do that but I was already regretting it.
“Ah,” I murmured as I let go of his shirt. “N-nothing—”
He smiled at me. “Tara, pahinga muna tayo sa loob.”
I wanted to spend more time with him before returning to reality. What happened yesterday and today made me feel things I was scared to even think about and I don’t think I could stop them anymore.
We went inside the café and I thought he’d sit on the vacant table near us but he walked to the piano at the corner instead. I sat on the nearest table from the piano while looking at him in daze.
He started playing, which attracted the customers’ and staffs’ attention. My heart raced upon watching him playing the piano. I think he looks best when he’s doing something he enjoys.
The sweet melody filled the air and my heart skipped a beat when he started singing.
“I used to think that this was something that would drive a man crazy.
Now lookin' back it's kinda clear I needed someone who would step in and save me.”
Something inside me stirred when he met my gaze while singing.
“Unwilling to trust, I guess I was lost,
I thought it didn't exist.
Uncovered my eyes, my vision's so clear.
And I could not resist.”
A genuine smile escaped his lips and I screamed internally upon seeing that. It felt like my insides were melting.
“You are the one, where I belong.
And I don't need to play cause I've already won with you.
You can dive right in cause I'll never give up on you.”
Maybe it was because of the atmosphere and my emotions were playing with me but I almost teared up. I was scared to acknowledge my feelings. I was scared because I might get hurt.
Just this time, I’d let my feelings overwhelm me.
Just this time, I’d assume he likes me, too.