I only had three hours of sleep after finishing two chapters last night. When I looked at the mirror, the bags under my eyes were too noticeable that I suddenly regretted sleeping late. However, because I was anxious and excited, I couldn’t even bring myself to sleep so I just decided to use that energy to write stories.
And that made me more fired up. Especially after reading the comments.
ladyindisguise: Oh my god!!! Finally!!! Elena’s opening up to the 4th Prince. I’m so soft for them~
queenofthenight: Don’t you just love how Prince Cairo didn’t force her when she said she didn’t want to live her life in the palace even if it meant not being together most of the time?
knightmare: I do like how Elena chose to be happy away from people’s eyes because she knows how cruel rumors could go
ladyinwaiting: I feel sorry for the prince tho since he’s the one who’s always adjusting. But glad that Elena’s starting to step into his world, too, so that they can meet halfway
It was a bit surprising that most of the readers were able to read and comment even though I posted it at 2 A.M. Well, I guess because it was already weekend.
Despite the sluggishness, I started preparing and took a bath. When I went to downstairs, Xander was already in the living room, drinking his coffee while checking his phone.
“What a rare sight,” he remarked. “Aga mong nagising.”
“Ikaw rin, ah,” I retorted.
“Of course, I have to be ready,” he said, a hint of sternness on his voice. “Dad’s not here so I’ll be the one talking to him.”
Somehow, he learned that Gisel asked me on a date and told me that he should meet me here instead of somewhere else. I didn’t want to burden him, but he said it’s alright. I want to know more about you, he added.
“You know, I checked his background and he seems okay,” he noted, still scrolling on his phone. He turned to my direction and gave me a suspicious look. “You sure this guy likes you.”
My eyes narrowed at his contemptuous comment, but also felt embarrassed because of it. “S-shut up, Xander.”
“Ya,” he interjected. “Where’s the honorifics? Watch your manners.”
“You don’t deserve it,” I muttered.
Before it could turn into an argument, I returned to my room and started thinking of a suitable outfit for today but gave up halfway. I didn’t even know what would look good on me. Among the four of us, Steff, I think, had the best sense in fashion but I didn’t want to disturb her because she might be studying.
Just when I was about to give up hope, I received a message from Ate Mau, asking if my brother is at home. It turned out they had a small argument last night and she wanted to make it up to him as it was her fault this time. So, that was why he seemed to be in bad mood today.
I told her he’s here and excitedly agreed to help me in choosing a nice dress. Since she lives in a nearby village, I came running downstairs when she said she was already in our village. Xander gave me a funny look and I smirked in return.
“What? He’s here already?”
I ignored his question and opened the door for Ate Mau.
“Ate!” I beamed.
“Baby!” she returned as she hugged me tight.
It only took him a second to choke on his coffee. His expression was so hilarious that I regretted not taking a photo of it.
“Come on, you need to get dressed!” she said, and before Xander could recover, I pulled Ate Mau upstairs.
Good thing Gisel arrived when the two of them made up. Xander asked questions, some were downright cringey and embarrassing. Thank goodness Ate Mau was there to scold him.
“I’m sorry,” I mumbled as we got inside his car.
He snickered in return. “No, no, it’s okay. He’s protective of you and I thought that’s cool.”
It was kind of awkward when we both fell silent, but it was bearable. I could hear his deep and careful breathing while I chose to look outside. Honestly, everything that happened for the past few days still hadn’t sank in. My gaze slowly shifted toward him. I find it hard to believe that someone like him have feelings for me.
“May dumi ba ako sa mukha?” he suddenly asked.
He smiled. “You were staring,”
My face turned red almost immediately upon realizing that I was indeed staring at him. I shifted my gaze at the road in front of us, nervously fiddling with the hem of my cardigan, while he suppressed a chuckle.
I cleared my throat. “Uhm, w-where are we going?”
“One of your favorite places,” he answered.
His lips curved upward. “You’ll see when we get there.”
Maybe it was because I didn’t get enough sleep last night that I dozed off after a while. When I woke up, the sun visor was already flipped down and the car was parked.
“Ah, gising ka na,” he remarked.
I shifted on my seat and sneakily checked if I left a mark on it or there was something on my face. When I looked at the terrain outside, I realized where we were.
“Tagaytay?” I blurted out.
We got out of the car and a cute café came into view. I followed him inside and he started talking to the lady on the lobby as I gaped at the scenic view of Taal from where I stood. After a few minutes, we were given seats at the balcony and handed as the menu.
“So . . . how are you?” he asked, breaking the silence.
We were still awkward with each other, but we managed to talk about things without getting too overwhelmed or uncomfortable. It became less tensed when the food arrived. Fortunately, he was just opening topics about school or our daily activities.
After that, we went to a flower farm and it was honestly the best part for me. Despite being smaller than a field and the flowers were inside a greenhouse, I still felt happy seeing them growing beautifully.
“You said flowers look better in their natural habitat,” he said. “I figure you’ll appreciate this more than a bouquet.”
My heart fluttered upon hearing that. I couldn’t believe he remembered that even though it was just a random comment during a trip.
“Thank you for bringing me here,” I mumbled while we were on our way back.
He gave me a sweet and gentle smile in return. “You’re always welcome.”
When we arrived in front of my house, his expression suddenly turned serious.
“Yna,” he called.
“May I court you?”
His question caught me off-guard and it took me several seconds before the question sank in. My stomach churned and my skin tingled. I never thought he’d ask that question, but despite being flustered, I slowly nodded.
“Okay,” I answered, almost in a mumble.
He let out a shaky breath and finally broke into smile. “Thank you.”
I cleared my throat and opened the door. “G-good night . . . Calvin.”
“Good night, Yna.”
I wasn’t sure how my heart survived that day but one thing that I was thankful for was we were away from the people who know us. We could act like ourselves without getting any unwanted attention. Somehow, it felt like we were in Jeju once again, but this time, our feelings were clear.
And this time, I hope my feelings reached him, too.
The thing about dating secretly was the stark difference between our interactions in public and private spaces.
Whenever we cross paths, people would always sneak glances at us, observing even our subtle movements. But we were already used to ignoring each other when we’re in the campus. In addition, he was almost always busy because of his schedule this semester so I could only see him during weekends.
It had been a month since our “first date” but it still felt like it was just yesterday. I could remember how nervous we were. The way we stammered and spoke at the same time. How my heart throbbed so loud when he was walking behind me in the flower farm. The way our fingers touched when we both reached for the bill.
I realized I was blushing hard upon reminiscing the things that happened that day. I silently scolded myself for being sidetracked while studying.
Fortunately, the students in the library were too focused on what they were reading and studying since next week would already be the time for midterm exams.
I lightly tapped my cheeks and willed myself to focus on the pile of readings I had to study, but someone suddenly put some books on my table. When I looked up, a familiar face greeted me.
“May I sit with you?” he asked. “Wala na kasing free seats sa unahan.”
I nodded. “Yeah. Of course.”
It had been a while since I last saw King. He still had the same vacant expression on his face but he looked determined now. We stayed quiet while studying and his presence helped me to stay focused.
“You look way prettier when you’re happy,” he suddenly said after almost half an hour.
I looked at him but his gaze remained on the book. Few seconds later, it shifted to me. Somehow, I think he already knew what was going on. I remembered how he helped and accompanied me when I was too mortified to face my friends. He said he don’t want to see me cry anymore and I wanted to live up to that promise.
A smile escaped my lips. “Ki—I mean, Jervin. Thank you.”
His eyes crinkled behind his glasses. “Make sure you’ll be happy for a long time.”
“I’ll try,” I chuckled.
Being in the library after the article about Calvin and I got released became nauseating for me, but this time, I felt comfortable because of him.
“Ang sakit na ng ulo ko,” Alice complained. “Wala na talagang pumapasok na information.”
“Mag-aral ka na lang,” Jess retorted while flipping the pages of her notebook. “Kapag ikaw hindi nakapasa sa midterms, hindi mo na ‘yan mababawi sa finals.”
“You already survived yesterday. Just study the concepts that appeared on your problem sets,” added Steff.
Even I shared the same sentiment. It felt like my brain had already reached its full capacity. I just finished my exams on two subjects yesterday and I’d have another one later in the afternoon.
Jess suddenly groaned. “Advanced Stat is a pain in the ass.”
“Hindi ba forte ‘yan ni Patrick?” asked Alice.
“Kaya nga kailangan ko siyang mataasan sa exam.”
As usual, the four of them were fighting for the top spot. Despite being friends and lovers, I’m sure they won’t easily give up the chance to be the class valedictorian so they have to do well in every test.
At 10 AM, Jess and Steff left for their exams on their respective advanced courses, while Alice said she’d study with Kevin in the library. I decided to study at the nearby café and I’d just eat lunch there, too.
It took me fifteen minutes to arrive at the café. Fortunately, the table at the innermost corner was unoccupied. After ordering at the counter, I started reading my notes, hoping that I could still remember everything later.
Just as when the food arrived, I received a text message from him.
Calvin: Saan ka?
Calvin: Sa TRC?
Yna: Yup yup
Calvin: Punta ako dyan
He got here after about ten minutes and immediately found me. I almost blushed when he appeared in front of me because he looked good despite his simple and casual clothes. Also, he was wearing my cap.
It had been two weeks since we last saw each other. He said he’d been taking all-nighters because all of his major subjects were demanding.
He had two exams today and another one later. We were eating and studying quietly, but I was surprised when his fingers brushed mine. The next thing I knew, they were already laced into each other. He remained focused on his journals while my mind started reeling.
I took a sip of coffee and lightly tugged his pinky. “Uhm, mahirap ang subject mo mamaya?”
He let out a dry chuckle. “Yup. The hardest one.”
“Ohh. Sure ikaw na dito mo gusto mag-aral?” I asked. “Maingay slight.”
“You’re here,” he replied. “So, I’ll be fine.”
“Ehh?” What did he mean by that?
He suddenly averted my gaze. “Motivation,” he mumbled.
My face turned red when I realized what he meant. I remembered how Alice joked yesterday about giving him my answer so that he’d be motivated during exams. Would he really do good if I . . .
He was drinking his coffee when I finally got the courage to open that topic.
“What if . . . uhm . . .”
“Maging ano . . . boyfriend kita—”
I couldn’t finish my sentence because he was already coughing hard. For a moment, I was scared because I thought he wouldn’t stop, but fortunately, he calmed down after few seconds.
“I-I’m sorry, are you okay—”
He looked at me with a bewildered expression on his face. “Are you serious about that?”
“Eh? Uhh . . .”
My heart was already beating so fast that I couldn’t talk without my voice shaking. In the end, I just nodded.
“For real?” he asked in disbelief.
I had thought about it for quite some time, too. We both like each other and I am happy whenever I’m with him. don’t know what the difference would be now, but I want to step into that unfamiliar place. With him. And even if someone finds out about it, I guess it would be okay. The articles and reactions would surely be terrifying, but what matters the most is our own feelings.
Just like what he did last time, I pulled one of my prob sets and highlighted the word ‘yes.’ I turned it to his direction and smiled.
“Yna . . .”
He still looked dazed, confused even, and I lightly chuckled as I watched his gaze go back and forth to me and my prob set.
He finally smiled and that made my heart skip a beat. He pulled the cap lower to cover his flushed face and I tried peeking at it. For the first time in a while, he was the one who was flustered instead of me, and I found that cute.
“Now, I can’t focus anymore,” he mumbled as he squeezed my hand. He reached for my face and lightly pinched my right cheek. “You’re really something.”
I snickered in return. “Aral na tayo.”
“Paano?” he laughed heartily.
We went back to studying, and somehow, I became fired up.
And two days later, he became the talk of the campus after an article was written about him. He became the first Campus Elite to get a perfect mark in an advanced course examination.