Victim of A Sullied Past

Will you still love me despite my impurities?

Gwen Samaniego Mikko Evangelista Rain Gonzales Neshian Salvatierra

01 February 2010 – 22 May 2010 © sweetrax All events, characters in this story are fictitious. Any similarities to real persons or events are purely coincidental.

It was during the summer of my junior year when I first met Mikko. I was fifteen then, and he was seventeen. He had the typical boy-next-door look which makes every girl in the room swoon over him. Rumors about him being a playboy started to spread but I didn’t give a damn. We got close until eventually he started giving signs of liking me too. Most of our friends discouraged me of agreeing to be his girlfriend, but again, I didn’t give a damn. After a year of courting, I finally said yes to him. The moments we spent together were the happiest part of my teenage life—so far. Until that fateful event happened. July 14, 2008 Today, I celebrate my sixteenth birthday with the love of my life, Mikko. I even asked my Mom to allow me to spend the whole day with him. Good thing, Mom likes Mikko as my boyfriend, so she gave a ‘yes’ for her answer. “Gwen,” he said huskily as he buries his head on my shoulders. “What now, love? You’re drunk already.” He finished five bottles of San Mig Light already. His tolerance for alcohol is so low that drinking just three bottles of beer will knock him down. Just like now. He’s talking gibberish. “Gwen, let’s do it.” “Do what?” “Sex.” See what I mean? Alcohol already consumed his mind. He’s talking nonsense now. “Quit fooling around, love. C’mon, I’ll take you to your room.” “Hmmm.” Somehow, I managed to carry him to his room. Imagine me carrying an eighteen-year-old boy, weighing around a hundred and thirty or so pounds. Imagine the hardship I went through as we go up the stairs. We almost tripped down, but luckily we didn't. God is good; He saved us. “Gwen,” he mumbled as I lay him down on his bed. “Oh?” “Sex. Let’s do it. Now.” “You’re drunk, Mikko. You don’t “I said I want us to have sex.”





He suddenly grabbed my hand and pulled me down. He kissed me forcefully as if my lips were about to crush. I tried to resist but he’s just too strong for me. I am no match to his strength. “Please, Mikko, don’t do this.” “Shut up, Gwen. I’ve been dying to do this since the first day I met you.” He forced himself to have me. I resisted as hard as I can but I am so small compared to him. “Please stop…” I was crying so hard but there was nothing that I could do. I was violated. By my boyfriend. On my sixteenth birthday.

Now tell me, will I ever have someone to love me for who I really am? Will I ever find someone who’ll love me despite of my impurity?


Still with him

“Gwen, you’re spacing out again.” As soon as I heard Neshian’s voice, I shifted my gaze towards her. She was standing right in front of my table, her hands on her hips. She looks like a mother ready to scold her child for disobeying her rules. “Sorry, Nesh. May iniisip lang.” “Yeah, right. You better hurry up. Mikko’s waiting for you outside.” “Thanks,” I said then fixed my things. “I’m going now.” “Take care, Gwen.” It’s been two years since that fateful day. It’s been two years since Mikko forced me to have sex with him. And it’s been two years since I started living with him. Yes, I am living with Mikko—whether I like it or not. My Mom imposed that decision when she learned about what happened between me and Mikko. Though my Mom knew that something happened to us, she never found out about the truth—the truth that I was raped. When Mikko confessed to my Mom that he touched me, he told her a different story. He made my Mom believe that we both wanted what happened. “There you are, baby.” As soon as I approached him, he pulled me closer and gave me a forceful kiss. If we are at home, this kiss might lead to something else. Good thing, we are in a public place—the school’s parking lot to be exact—I have every reason to pull away. You wouldn’t want to know what he will do to me if I reject him. “We are in a public place, Mikko. Get a hold of yourself.” “Right. We’ll continue this later,” he said as he pull away and enter his car. I was quite shocked to see his friends inside his car. I guess there will be another drinking session at home. “Hi Gwen,” said Rain, Mikko’s best friend. “Hi Rain.” Those were the last words I’ve said as we leave my school and as we arrive in our house. Two years. That’s quite a long time, right? I’ve been carrying this burden for two years now. The only consolation I have is Eliah. He’s such an angel to me. With just one look at him, all my troubles are washed away. If only we could escape this mess. If only… “Gwen, can you buy some beers for us?” “Yeah, sure.” As if I have any other choice. I was about to leave when somebody caught my arm. It was Rain. He was smiling sweetly at me. The way he looks at me, it was as if I were the most beautiful girl in the world. If he knew about what happened to me, will he still look at me the same way as he does now? “Samahan na kita, Gwen.” “It’s okay, Rain. I can manage. Baka hinahanap ka na nila Mikko doon.” “Just let them be. Malalaki na sila. Kaya na nila mag-isa.”

For myself. I somehow felt that you’re forced to be with him. Lover or toy I left Rain standing outside the gate.” For Mom. and Miguel. “You know my friends. Bakit nasa tabi ka pa rin niya kahit mukhang napipilitan ka lang?” “Dahil kailangan. I always end up submitting myself under his will. He’s just using me. Gwen.” “Hi. Why don’t you leave him instead? Kung napipilitan ka lang. Buti at napagtiyagaan niya si Mikko!” The boys laughed while I just smiled at Mark’s comment. You have Gwen as you’re girlfriend.” “C’mon.” Silence ensued as we walk towards the store. “Sigurado ka ba sa sagot mo?” “Why won’t I be sure?” “I don’t know. It’s as if nobody wants to speak. As we neared the house. Glen. “You are so lucky. II. that is.” “I have standards. She’s a lot prettier than your ex-girlfriends. I can’t bear to hear more of his questions. I’ll just visit Eliah—” “Nah.” I said timidly. “Mikko. stay here for a while. Glen. I don’t go for easy-to-get girls. The thing is I just can’t do that. I never thought that Rain would talk to me like this. Ace. Mark. I guess I will forever be under his control as long as Eliah’s innocent. No matter how many times I try to convince myself.” “Wala kang alam sa mga bagay-bagay. Hunter.” “I guess it is Gwen that we have to commend here. Rain. He was right. He usually ignores me just like Mikko’s other friends.“Aryt. His every word pulls a knot in my chest. I opted to sit beside him rather than visit Eliah. “Gwen?” “Hmm?” “Do you really love Mikko that much?” “Y-yeah. . his lies.” With his rage in mind.” I was quite taken aback with his question. if you say so. I am under his spell— rather. Mikko. I should leave Mikko. for Eliah. Rain finally broke the silence. right? Rain. I’ve been trying to convince myself for years that Mikko doesn’t love me anymore. I guess so. I may not know a lot about your relationship with Mikko but I can feel that you’re not that happy being with him. I wouldn’t want his friends to see what he does to me if he doesn’t get what he wants.

” “Why would I aim for Gwen. may pag-asa pala.” “Ay. and gadgets.“Nah.” “Then be a third party!” Mikko suggested. What’s with him? He’s been glancing at me every now and then. Unlike the six boys. Rain was just smiling foolishly. I can freely go out of the house now and visit Eliah. Mikko! You should share your blessings!” “Nauna ako. back off. I changed my clothes and readied the things I need to bring. right now. Gwen’s mine. It goes out for everyone. Rain.” “Wait in vain? C’mon. . he was just playing along with his friends. Eliah The boys continued talking about girls. The boys will surely wake up by tomorrow morning. you’re just jealous `cause you can’t get girlfriends as beautiful as my Gwen here. Rain. Agawin mo na kung pwedeng maagaw!” Rain glanced at me for a while.” “Ang damot mo naman. Mikko? Are you really just possessive or you just don’t want your toy to be taken away from you? Am I your lover or your toy? III. they were already knocked down.” “Have you ever been in love?” I can’t help but ask.” the boys said in chorus. “Have you had any girlfriends in the past. I went out through the back door so Mikko won’t hear me go out. He looked at me intently and said. Best friend kita.” “Flings. However. cars. never had one. So. Hindi yata maka-relate si Rain!” Another bout of laughter enveloped the living room. Around nine in the evening.” said Rain with a forced smile on his face. “That’s good to know. Hunter. “Then why don’t you court her?” “I’d love to but she’s taken already. no. I was half-running as I go out of the house. It seems like the topic opened a fresh wound in his heart. Rain?” “No. perhaps?” asked Miguel. I am afraid that Mikko might catch me as I run away from home. dude. “Go for it. I plan to keep her. games.” What am I to you. “Same answer. too. I don’t have any plans on giving her away. I am willing to wait. man. don’t fool yourself. back off. “I am. “I respect her and her boyfriend. Mikko? I respect you. I ain’t giving her away.” “Oooooh. teka. Malay mo. After fixing the mess in the living room. From the looks of it. if you’re aiming for my Gwen here.

I grabbed his hand and brought him nearer to the bed.I was three streets away when I slowed my pace down. Hop in. I really followed you. bakit para kang nakakita ka ng multo dyan?” “H-ha? I thought you’re Mikko. He just nodded then followed me as we enter the house.” “Is he your brother?” I looked at Rain. “You want to come in first?” I asked Rain when we arrived in Mom’s house. smiled sweetly at him and said. He’s around eight months old. Rain. I’ll be turning eighteen five months from now.” “It’s okay. You’re a mom at eighteen?” “Seventeen. Ihahatid na kita. huh. I can’t help but admire my little Eliah.” “Is Mikko the father?” “Yeah. He was sleeping on the bed with my Mom sleeping beside him. A smile formed on my lips as soon as I’ve seen my bundle of joy.” “He’s fast asleep in your house.” “Mom said that too when we first saw him. Flashbacks of the incident two years ago started recurring. I went straight to the second floor and entered the nursery. but then a black car stopped right in front of me. He must have been wondering about the baby. no one dared to utter a single word.” I accepted Rain’s invitation and asked him to drop me at my Mom’s house. I glanced at Rain who was standing behind me and looking confused.” “Woah.” .” “For real?” “Yeah. I was holding my breath as the driver’s side’s window rolls down. “He’s Eliah. As we were on the way to Mom’s house. I was already composed. Isn’t he the cutest baby?” “Wow. I took my digital camera and captured that moment. “`Want a ride?” “Rain!” “O.” I smiled bitterly. He’s the cutest kid I’ve ever seen. he does. “Does he know?” “Of course. You can go now. My heart started to beat faster as fear consumed my being. “He’s my baby. I can wait for a cab.” “C’mon. he’s like your male version.

” I lifted Eliah and hugged him. It’s been a week since I last saw him. but he doesn’t want Eliah to stay at home. “Do you want to carry Eliah?” I asked Rain.” As soon as we got out of the room. I could vividly imagine everything that happened last night-. It was picture perfect. “Binugbog ka na naman niya. She knew what already happened.” “Hey. but my bag doesn’t contain school stuff. Fondness that should have been Mikko’s emotion towards his child.” I faked a cough and acted as if I am feeling weak. may we go out? Gwen is not feeling well. “Let me see them.” “I’m your best friend. He doesn’t care about Eliah—doesn’t care at all. Well. it’s unusual to bring that kind of bag when you’re having a class for just four hours. I can see fondness in his eyes. “Alright.the torment that could only be found in hell. I missed my child. Gwen. I’ll escort her to the clinic. It feels refreshing and overwhelming to finally hug and kiss Eliah.” As I take my jacket off. “Just some stuff.” I just looked at her and she knew what’s going on. you can go now. “Ma’am. Gwen. “Pwede ba?” “Sure. Rain seems more like the father of Eliah with the way he’s holding my baby right now. I can’t help but wish that it was actually Mikko who was holding Eliah right now. I couldn't seem to do anything but cry as I hold on to the pain I have so .” Happiness was evident in his face the moment he held Eliah in his arms. That’s why Mom’s taking care of Eliah. I slowly felt my tears run down my cheeks. spill it.” “What’s with the bag?” Neshian was referring to my overnight bag.“Does Mikko acknowledge the child as his own?” “Yeah. It was full of clothes good for one to two days. IV. Wounds “Hey. ano?” I couldn’t utter a single word. Neshian guided me towards the girl’s comfort room. I wanted to visit him during the past days but Mikko wouldn’t let me. I grabbed my camera and took a shot of them together. Rain was pleased while my baby looks peaceful. It felt as though I've been subjected to the same hell I've been through last night. Go on. He’s looking at Eliah lovingly. She grabbed my hand then dragged me towards the teacher.

I feel like I was in hell when he was doing those things to me. I’m afraid of what they will think about me. we decided to skip our class. “What did he do next?” “He dragged me up by the hair. I nearly fell while we were going up the stairs because he was in a hurry. “Palipasin mo muna init ng ulo ni Mikko. If not violence. He said that he’ll visit Eliah some time because he really liked Eliah. I never told anyone about what really happened to me during my sixteenth birthday. Nesh approached me and hugged me tight. and whipped me with his belt.” “Nahuli?” “He saw me with Rain the other night. nobody knew that I was raped. “Stay with me for a night or two. “Nadapa lang po ako kahapon.” I nodded as my reply. he was looking through the window pala. He pushed me so hard that I fell on the floor. His grip was so tight that it hurts so much. lumalandi daw ako. punched me in the stomach.poured my heart out so much that it hurt.” After nursing my wounds. napano yan?” asked the nurse. Fears “Rain and I went home at around 11PM. It was so painful. we went to our tambayan where I once again reminisced everything that happened-.” Whenever Mikko gets mad. She just let me cry as long as I want.” “What was his reason for hurting you?” “He knew I visited Eliah. I’m scared of their judgments. He knew that I went out to see Eliah. “O. The next thing I knew. “Why did he hurt you? Napapadalas yata ang pambubugbog niya sa’yo?” “Nahuli kasi niya ako. Usually. I thanked him for coming with me and for taking care of Eliah. As soon as I opened the door. “Why don’t you tell your Mom? She needs to know about this so she can protect you. Yes. he’d wake up the next day whenever alcohol knocks him down. He was so mad.” When I finally calmed down. Saka. he grabbed my hand then dragged me towards our room in the second floor. Instead.” “Tsk.grudgingly kept within my heart. I never had the slightest idea that he would turn out to be the person that he is today. It would be a shame if they all knew about it. he left and I went inside the house. Nesh brought me to the clinic where she took care of my bruises and wounds. At sa best friend niya pa.” “So you’re telling that Mikko saw you being dropped off by Rain?” “Yeah. Does Tita Amanda know about this?” “She doesn’t know anything. After that. he would often resort to violence. I didn’t know that Mikko was already awake. Nesh. then it would be something else.” Just like you don’t know that I was raped. She didn’t say a word.” V.” “T-thanks. he was already hitting me. He was the sweetest and most thoughtful guy I’ve known—before my sixteenth birthday. that is. Rain just dropped me off because he has to attend to some emergency at home. He slapped me many times.” .

The reason for not telling Mom that I was raped was the same.” After five minutes. It was Rain. right. I missed you already. I can say that we’re close friends already. we would talk about anything under the sun—from our family to random things. Are you here for Eliah?” “Yup. I guess it’s time to stand up for myself.” “Yeah.” It’s now time to face my fears.” “I guess you’re right. I don’t know if it’s just flu or whatever.“I can’t. It was completely different from the days I spend with Mikko. though. Those days were pure bliss. I realized that we share a lot of things in common. During his visits. I got out of my room and straight to the living room to face my unexpected visitor.” . I’ve been living under Mikko’s shadow for two years. “I’m doing fine. Any bad news is fatal for her. I mean. Accidents happen It’s been two weeks since I left Mikko. “Oo nga pala. I’ve been sick since the week started. She had a heart attack the moment she heard me say the word pregnant. you and Eliah. He knows that I am weak when it comes to Mom. just maybe. KNOCK KNOCK “Ma’am Gwen. If I do. stay with me for the next two days then go back to your Mom’s house for a while. Tita has a heart condition. I’ll probably stay with Mom for a couple of weeks. I am pregnant again.” My mom has a heart condition. I don’t want my Mom to suffer. Maybe. Yaya Jo. Today is Saturday and I am feeling nauseous. He’s been visiting frequently to see Eliah. I don’t want her to go through the same ordeal if I tell her that I am beaten almost everyday.” “Yeah. I have a hunch. I’ll be out in a few minutes. is he here today?” “He’s out for the moment. Mikko convinced me that I should not tell anyone that he violated me. she almost died. She might die. That’s why I am enduring all the pain in exchange for Mom’s safety.” “Thanks. I’m going to have a check up later to see what’s wrong with me. He used it for his advantage. He blackmails me. Daddy misses Eliah. So can I see Eliah’s mom instead?” “You’re seeing her right now. of what might be the cause of this sickness. From our talks. When she learned that I was pregnant at the age of sixteen. “Hi Rain! Kamusta?” I said then kissed him on the cheeks. Being with my Eliah lightens my day while being with Mikko burdens me. he would tell Mom about it.” “I see.” “Anyway. Let Mikko cool down first. Mom brought him to Daddy’s place. may bisita po kayo. VI.

” Did I hear it right? I’m six weeks pregnant? For real? “Woah. “Hey. I’m completely clueless. When I arrived. He was in the room. I’m… I’m actually speechless. He gave me a list of vitamins I’m supposed to take so the baby would be healthy. After a few minutes. I’m wondering if you can drop me off to the hospital. I just dropped by to tell you something. I’m nervous. “Gwen!” “Hey. gosh! I-I didn’t know you’re here. what’s the result?” “Congratulations. I admit. I still find him handsome. After all. I don’t know how Mikko will react to this. I went to our room since he wasn’t in the living room. I hailed a cab and gave the address to the driver.” “Right now?” I nodded. He was shocked to see me. I’m just a toy to him. He must have been tired. He moved a bit then later on. I went inside and looked for Mikko.” So there. I can’t believe that he’s actually cheating on me! So after all.” The doctor and I talked some more about my current condition. Rain. he deserves to know because he’s the father of this child.” “What is it? Uh… can you just g-go out for a while?” “H-ha? Don’t wo—” “Baby. I went straight to my Ob-gyne to have my check up. Will he accept it? Will he get mad? Will he ask for an abortion—which I will surely object? I don’t know. I approached him to have a closer look at his face. I still… love him. Ms. I really enjoy his company every time he visits. Rain dropped me off in the hospital. He usually doesn’t have classes on a Saturday. Samaniego. sleeping soundly. snoring loudly. I was right. the result was out. If he’s not watching TV. . “Mikko. I want to tell him about it right away. I had fun talking to him.” I felt my tears run down my cheeks. I’m sorry. “Sure. then he might be sleeping in our room. he opened his eyes. I can explain!” “Oh. Gahd.Like every time he visits. Ancheta. After the check up. though it’s not as passionate as it used to be.” I whispered as I caressed his face. I went straight to our house—mine and Mikko’s— so I can tell him the news. “So Dr. I’m just a trophy girlfriend. The doctor asked for a urine test to confirm my hunch. You’re six weeks pregnant. His eyes popped out of its sockets in surprise. what’s going on?” Am I seeing things right? There’s a girl on the bed with Mikko and she’s freaking naked? “G-Gwen. we spent time talking and kidding around. It was like I’ve known him since forever.

Ancheta. goodness.“No need to explain. “Hey. I’m scared for my baby. I must be in the hospital. Rain. is my baby okay?” I sounded frustrated this time.” “Don’t be. I’ll be here for you. I’ll leave you two alone. We would have died there. He’s not his usual self lately.” “Sshh. Please. honey. I felt a soothing feeling as Dad continues to stroke my hair. not my baby. Don’t worry about it. “Thanks for bring me here. but I caught him sleeping with someone else. so I will be strong. “Shh. okay? We’ll receive the news together. A black car stopped right in front of me. Somehow. I’m bleeding.” “I’m apologizing for Mikko. I thought as I opened my eyes. My baby’s barely six weeks old. That guy has some family problems right now.” “I d-don’t know. is my baby okay?” Daddy sat on the bed and stroked my hair. I couldn’t figure who is this man. how are you feeling?” “I’m scared. too. The driver got out of the car and assisted me. I’m here for you. VII. Rain. I’ll call Dr. Your Mom.” “You’re welcome. “Dad. Then I felt a searing pain and I started bleeding. honey.” .” Dad went out to call the doctor.” It’s a good thing Rain is here. Rain. I was blocks away when I felt a searing pain.” Everything went black. He’s being strong for me. you’re awake. I wanted to get away from him that’s why I ran away. Dad and Eliah’s here for you. I only recognized the man because of his voice. Oh. As if on cue. I was so upset with what I saw. I held my womb with the thought.” I ran as fast as I could.” “Dad. “Alright. Due to my blurred vision brought by my tears.” He smiled sadly. There was a throbbing pain in my head and an empty feeling in my womb. Can I just ask what happened? Why were you running away?” “I dropped by Mikko’s house to tell him the news. I feel ready to hear whatever news the doctor will bring. “Gwen! You’re bleeding!” “R-ra…Ra---in. I want to get away from this house immediately. Calm down. Truth A crucifix and white walls. I felt a hot liquid dripping down my legs. too. Rain entered the room and took Dad’s place a while ago. My baby’s alive right? “Hey.

” Those were the last words I’ve heard before I fell asleep. I was abused. his dad. Samaniego.” Rain hugged me and allowed me to cry on his chest. Sana si katulad na lang ni Rain si Mikko. We won’t leave you.I was about to say something but then. Mikko. I’m finally free from Mikko. Is my baby okay?” Rain held my hand and squeezed it tightly. “I’m sorry. and I lost my second child. His Dad got mad at him for what had happened. I’m still here. called me to apologize for his son’s misbehavior. Your parents are still here. I pretended to sleep so I can hear what they’re talking about. I let my daughter live with you. Ms. Evangelista. I understand why she did that. he was forced to go to Spain. The last thing I heard about Mikko is that he’s having a vacation in Spain. I lost my baby—my six-week-old baby. You had a miscarriage. For the past two years. Tito Robert. I was sleeping peacefully until I’ve heard loud voices. I was battered. Samaniego. I took a peak and saw Mom and Mikko talking.” “Let’s get straight to the point. I’m not giving her back to you unless she begs for it. “Good morning. Ancheta. I was drunk!” “I don’t know Mikko. but your baby didn’t make it. That’s . Dad entered the room with Dr. I’m taking Gwen back. For the mean time. It hurts so much. It’ll be okay Gwen. “I trusted you. Mom. and Eliah. I may be physically fine right now. It was as if he’s telling that he’ll be there no matter what.” “Fine! I don’t care. Mom asked me to stop studying for a while. more like arguing. I’m sorry. He’s like a best friend to me now. Mom said he’d be spending the rest of the year with his Dad. They were arguing inside the room. No. kahit di ko kaanu-ano palaging nasa tabi ko. Companion It’s been two months since I left Mikko and started living with my Mom. Buti pa si Rain. Doc. but I’m taking my daughter back. He’s such an angel to me. A lot has happened and it may take a while for me to recover. Tita Amanda. I wouldn’t have carried on if not for Rain. VIII.” I heard the door shut. “Sshh. You’re the reason why Gwen had a miscarriage!” “But Tita…” “But what? You broke the trust that I’ve given you. ano pang ginagawa mo sa anak ko?” “I’m sorry. I was being cheated on. so as a punishment. We meet again. He was utterly embarrassed for what his son did to me. Pero anong ginawa mo? Ginago mo!Tell me. You’re not taking care of her. Eliah’s still here. but I am still emotionally stressed. He helped realize the purpose of the situation. ginagago lang ako. Samantalang si Mikko. Ms. I was just problematic that time. Those three months were enough for me to move on and grieve over my lost child.

Am I seeing things right? Rain is actually blushing? “So cute! Ay.” “Mom!” I blushed and I don’t know why.” “Well. Gonzales. “You know what. she’s drooling over me. excuse me. sorry. he was looking at me intently. ” “Oh. “I just want to see Eliah and his Mom `cause I like being with them. How are you.why when Mom and I discussed about stopping for another year. you got it wrong. ” “Hey.” “Sa iba or sa’yo?” “Whatever.” “Oh. what’s important is that I am safe. He even plays along with Mom’s joke. April 2010 “Yo!” “What’s up. They make me really happy. . If I know. ah?” Yeah. He doesn’t mind whenever Mom pairs us. my love. I gladly obliged.” “Bluff. no?” “H-ha?” “Joke lang. perfectly fine. right?” he asked. Mommy—este Tita pala. “Huy. Rain? I think you should train yourself calling me Mommy. I’m doing great. Mom. Rain?” Mom said then kissed Rain on his cheeks. bagay na bagay!” “Mom! Stop teasing us! Saka. You’re the one drooling over me!” Hey. Tita? I feel that. in love sa iba itong si Rain. Nagpapakipot lang `tong si Gwen. too. nandito na pala ang future son-in-law ko. He’s kinda weird today. too. hey. Mr. Rain has been a constant figure here in our household. He would stay up until 10PM just to talk to me and take care of Eliah. I feel that you’d end up with Gwen. When I looked at Rain. Our day wouldn’t be complete if Rain wouldn’t drop by. I don’t know why but it’s kinda awkward. changing the topic. It doesn’t matter.” “You know what.” “You like me. Eliah’s first birthday was last Sunday. hey. Rain? Parang kahapon lang nandito ka sa bahay.” Mom just gave a whatever-you-say-darling look. I don’t care if I am nearly eighteen years old but I haven’t graduated in high school. “Mommy!” “You are such a kill joy.

“Ana kadi ti maitulong ko kenka?” said Manang Lupe. So. we didn’t celebrate as extravagant as other families do. Though. “HAHAHA. There was a quivering sensation as Rain hugged me. nakakaintindi ka ba ng Ilokano?” “Ahh.” “Manang.” “Gosh. Origin If Rain did not invite us for his birthday. Ayos lang yun. I would not have realized how big shot he is. As soon as we got back to their ancestral house.” “So the whole family is involved in politics?” “Aba’y oo.” “When’s your birthday ba?” “Tomorrow. can I ask you some questions?” “Tungkol saan. some teenagers and kids would shake hands with him or walk with us. that’s a yes.” “Ah. Eliah. by the way. Ang sabi ko. Ang ama naman niya. but how can I say no? It’s very tempting. He rushed to my side and hugged me. right?” I nodded. (Anong maitutulong ko sayo?) “Eh?” “Makataros ka ti Ilokano?” I frowned.” “I’m thinking if you want to celebrate it with me. Tiga-Maynila ka nga pala. what do you think? You need not to worry about the food and whatever. Kasabay sana ng birthday ko. iyon? Apo ng Gobernador iyang si Rain. pasensya na po. Mayor ng bayan na ito.” . I’ll cover the expenses for it. It’s too sudden. They greet Rain as if he’s some celebrity.” “So.” “OMG! For real?” “Yeah. When we arrived in his hometown here in Ilocos. She has been serving the Gonzales Clan for thirty years. Manang.“Yup. Tita Amanda and your Dad if he’s free.” “Ania? Ano?” “Is Rain a celebrity here in Ilocos? Most of the people here know him. Rain. their oldest housekeeper. When we were strolling around the streets. Kilala talaga iyan dito sa bayan namin dahil ma-PR katulad ng kanyang lolo at ama. What could it be? IX. Everybody there knows him.” “Ay sus. anak?” “About Rain and his family. I talked to Manang Lupe. the natives welcomed us warmly. I just want to spend my birthday with you. It will be in our rest house in Ilocos. Pasensya ka na. April 18. Aywan ko kung sasabak rin sa pulitika yan balang araw.

They would spend their vacations and other special occasions here since both of their parents live here.” “Of course. Mom and Tita Lucy would get along so well. “What? Why are you looking at me like that?” I asked Rain. Naragsak a panagkasangay. From the looks of it. English and Filipino. I only know two languages. Manang.) “Naimbag nga aldaw din. Manang. Masama bang tumingin sayo?” “Not really.” (Thank you. Now I know where Rain got his pleasing personality. O siya.) “Agyamanak. honey? I’m just telling what I feel. They both have a hyper personality. “Nothing. of course. I didn’t understand a word.Manang Lupe and I continued talking about Rain and his family. I don’t know any other language than that. I also learned that he has an older brother named Ryan who’s now living in the States to practice Medicine. What do you want?” “I have something to say to you.” “Ay. “Naimbag nga aldaw. I love your place! I just hope my Gwen here ends up with Rain so I can stay here some time. no?” “YES!” Mom exclaimed with her hands held up high. Amanda. They were talking in Ilocano and I am illiterate in that language. nakakahiya ka talaga!” “What’s wrong. Manang.) Okay. They look together. Rain. Actually. maiwan ko muna kayo dito ha? Magluluto lang ako ng hapunan. . and how many girls had camped outside the house just to have his attention. He was looking intently at me again. Happy birthday.” “O sige. His mom and dad were both cheerful and friendly. “It’s a good thing that you invited Gwen and her family here.” “Sure.” (Good afternoon. Manang Lupe. Rain. I’ll just tour Gwen around the house. dear. Gwen. everyone in Rain’s family was present—except for Ryan. I agree with you. Rain. how naughty he was whenever he stays here. hijo.” (O sige. They grew up here in Ilocos but transferred to Manila to study. He’s not cursing me right? X. Gwen. Manang Lupe.” “Mommy. boo me. She told me stories about Rain’s childhood. Busted When we had our dinner.” he said then left the room immediately. I am sure they are enjoying their stay here.” “What?” “Ipatpategka. Okay.

Rain?” “Yes. You’re just too beautiful not to like plus the fact that you’re actually my dream girl. let’s eat dessert! I especially made this cake for my birthday boy.” “Thanks. Tita Amanda. I followed Rain as he walked his way towards the veranda.” “I see. She butts in too much and I hate it. nothing. What was that word again? Ipatpatin? Or was it Ipatpatela? Argh. too. Why. habulan?” I disregarded Mom’s comment.” “Mikko? Is that Mikko Evangelista? Your best friend.Sometimes. “Ma. Sabi na nga ba. You’re using my weakness to confess to me.” I said with a big grin on my face. His cheeks were red as a tomato.” “Excuse me. Don’t argue with me. I will always love my baby boy. I think I need to breathe fresh air.” Yeah! That’s it. my dear?” I love you? Rain loves me? For real? I looked at Rain and he looked flushed. Rain. Mama.” “Yes I do love Mikko. Ipatpategka! “Excuse me. Ayayatenka. Nevertheless. “Uh. my baby boy. Contradicting.” “How is he? I haven’t heard from that boy in ages. I don’t know. I can’t remember. okay? You’ll always be Mama’s baby boy.” “I can’t help it. let’s not forget that Mikko and Gwen have Eliah. She’s too nosy and I am always annoyed whenever she imposes her decisions without consulting me. it means ‘I love you’ in Ilocano.” “Pabayaan mo na iyon. “Ipatpategka. Tita. I love her and I accept her for who she is. I know. I think he knows that I’ve busted him already. I used to like him but he cheated on Gwen. I’ll be the same Gwen that you know.” All of a sudden. too. “Excuse me for a while. I was just curious. Don’t worry. hijo. Tita Lucy. The same old Mikko. So. you’re so into me. Naragsak a kasangay.” “He’s with his dad in Spain. I don’t like him for my Gwen. But what if he learns about my past? Will I have my word? Will he still love me like what he's telling me now? . I want to ask myself if she’s really my Mom. What does ‘ipatpategka’ mean?” “That? Oh. I won’t change just because you said your feelings towards me.” “Ay. Or maybe not. I think I need fresh air. “Ikaw ha.” Yes. I know you still love Mikko so I’m giving way.” “Sorry if I feel this way. Well.” “Aww. I think he’s going to finish his college education there. the scene at the kitchen earlier popped in my mind. Just let me love you from a far. Too much flattery. I won't change. Ma. I can’t handle it. Rain. Rain.

I went to Eliah’s nursery to take him and bring him to my room. His charming smile brightens up my day. ikaw pala. I need to turn on the AC unit on full blast because Eliah can’t stand the heat. Mom insisted on looking for a babysitter for Eliah since I have been attending therapy sessions to cope up with my loss. Yun nga lang. but Mom really wants me to attend those sessions with her shrink.—though I don’t understand a thing—there’s a warm fuzzy feeling inside me. My instinct is telling me that it will bring good vibes. Kayat ka. He likes moving around so I put a space where he can move freely.” “Ay. When all his energy was drained. Bringing Eliah’s baby stuff with her.” I don’t know but I could feel the sincerity in his voice. all my apprehensions vanish. I’ve been loving you since God knows when.” “Masanay ka na. As he speak those words.“Thanks. Right after turning on the AC. Translations: Naragsak a kasangay . As much as I want to save electricity. I could actually feel the love that he’s declaring right now. I'll cling on to what my instincts are telling me. As I . INVITATION Blame El Niño for this hot weather that we are all experiencing now. he finally fell asleep.” “Ipatpategka. “Ate Gwen. I respect you and Mikko. Don’t worry. “Hi. I just hope he won't change once he knew about my past. but he may not be my last. He’s really hyperactive. she followed me back to my room. I appreciate it. Mom specifically asked the carpenters to do one so I could easily rush to Eliah when he cries. Ate Gwen. naunahan na ako ni Mikko sa lahat ng bagay. Good thing he’s cute. I used the connecting door that would lead me straight to the nursery. I know it’s been two months. Just remember that I love you. agree ako dyan! Siyempre mana sa yaya niya di ba?” “Ikaw talaga.Happy birthday Ayayatenka.” “He might be my first in everything. Nevertheless.” said Chammie. I’ll try not to take advantage of you. Gwen. Looks like you and Eliah are enjoying each other’s company. For now. I rested beside him and decided to take a nap. Eliah’s babysitter. O siya. Gwen.I want to hug you Kayat ka . He would cry every time I would turn the temperature a notch lower. huh?” Chammie had just started working a week after we got back from our Ilocos trip. This kid is really hyperactive.I love you Kayat ka nga aprusan . Di yata nauubusan ng lakas. right. really. “Ang hyper nga niya. I’ll put him to sleep first. I enjoy watching him as he circle the bed. I think he never runs out of energy. I just hope so. Kayat ka nga aprusan. Ipatpategka .” “Ugh. I laid Eliah on the bed and surrounded him with pillows.” Chammie lifted Eliah and handed him to me. With just one look at his angelic face.I admire you XI.

Both are fine with me. “You think so? Don’t I look fat in this dress?” “Of course not! It flaunts your curves flawlessly. Gwen. you look stunning! That dress suits you perfectly. It was just 3:20PM.” “Wait. But really. Just like now. my mobile started ringing. girl!” I just laughed at Neshian’s remark. Nesh.” “I’m not as biitchy as you think. What do you think? Hey. I'm not really that excited. a decent top plus jeans minus make up. I really admire Neshian’s abilities when it comes to fashion and make up. I stood up and immediately answered the call. I love how a simple tee can look elegant by just adding some embellishments. anyway. Unconsciously. To tell you the truth. I’m still in school. Promise. are you actually asking me out?” There was a long pause after my statement. I’m actually saying yes. Fearing that Eliah might wake up. Rain.” “Alright! I’ll see you at seven. right? XII. so why did you call?” “About that. I'm thinking of wearing this one or this one.” “Do you doubt my skills as a future fashion designer. my class will end at 5:30PM.was about to close my eyes.” “What about this one?” I reached for my other choice and showed it to Nesh. he didn’t even let me finish my word. He got a couple of hours more to go. it’s me Rain. I love how I transformed from a plain looking Gwen to someone I don’t even recognize as me. the black dress suits you better.” “Oh hi Rain. I prefer to keep myself simple. Gwen. nothing but the truth. “Uh… yeah. You can say no if you want or you can bring Eliah with you. I am pretty bad in making myself look stunning or whatever. Knock Knock . I went straight to my closet and started looking for something to wear later. I adore how a plain face will look stunning with her touch.” Nesh raised her right hand as if she were a witness swearing to tell the truth. “Hello?” “Hey. “Nah. “Right. I asked her to come over so she can help me to fix myself. wait. What’s up?” “Nothing much. My professor’s here.” I took a glimpse on the wall clock to check the time.” Neshian screamed as she entered my room. I was hoping if you could join me for dinner tonight. “I trust you on this. Gwen? Have a little faith. Bye!” “Bye—” He must be in a hurry. I like the dress. it’s okay if you’ll decline my offer. GUARANTEE “Woah.

But we can never be. kids. The look from his eyes in the world. I have a lot of burden to carry—a past that I can’t easily haunt me every night before I go to sleep.” I answered as I take his hand. I hate it when people flatter me too much. MESSAGE I was astonished when Rain brought me to my favorite restaurant. Her jaws literally dropped the moment our eyes met. You better go down now. I gladly accepted it then smiled at him. exposing my mother. I have no idea how he knew about it. smile!” Before my mind could digest hat Mom had just said.” I gave Neshian a tight hug before I followed Mom out the room. but I’m thinking he asked Mom or Neshian about it. princess?” asked Rain. girl. I felt like a debutante making her grand entrance for her party. I was with Mikko the last time I went here. I really appreciate the fact that he brought me here because it has been so long since I last dined here. “Thanks. I can never guarantee that his views about me would still be the same once he knew about my past. “Oh. I suddenly became conscious of my moves. that is. he’s every woman’s fantasy. “Gwen. I blushed. Take care of my only daughter. she just ignored me. you look… gorgeous. you go now.” Neshian bowed like a princess giving respect to her queen. I’ll never break that trust. I entrust her to you.The door swung open.” “Go. “Mom! Stop it. Nevertheless. “Woah. It took a few seconds before I recovered from the flash coming from Mom’s camera. Rain. I’m not used to receiving that kind of flattery. okay? It’s embarrassing!” I reprimanded her but being the stubborn that she is. a past that cannot be taken for “Shall we go now. I can handle the mess here. his hand. Breathtakingly gorgeous. I’m just her masterpiece. “You look dashing yourself. kids. squeezing my hand tightly. Lahat yata ng angle meron si Mommy! “Oh. Gwen. a blinding light engulfed my eyes. Rain’s here already. a past that continues to granted. See how nosy and hyperactive my Mom gets whenever she likes what’s happening? Ugh. His eyes offer a promise of happiness and care. Tita. Gwen? You look so stunning!” Alright. You might be late for your reservation. As I make my way down the stairs. I could sense that their gazes were fixed on me. I would have been the happiest girl in the world.” Rain offered me his hand as soon as I reached the stair’s last landing. is that you. He seems so perfect. . She continued taking shots until she got tired of it.” “Of course. Ma. XIII. Don’t let him wait.” “Go now! Go!” Rain glanced at me and offered says I’m the most beautiful girl promise is tempting but I can’t escape. “Ay. I hate it. If I knew Rain way before I knew Mikko. anak. You should commend Neshian here. I admit his give in easily. I don’t know how to handle those kinds of pleasing words. I'll be in charge of Eliah for now.

His other friends would just talk to me to ask for something related to Mikko. I chose to keep my mouth shut and tried to just forget about it. both of us were quiet. “Actually. I often drop by here to take out. Though I wanted to talk about it. I was waiting for him to finish his word but he must have forgotten about it already. It wasn’t the same from the international caller. it was not an emergency. Rain was the only one who talked to me and got interested in knowing me. . He still has the I’m-going-to-punch-someoneright-now look on his face.” After talking with Rain about random stuff. No one dared to open up about the recent phone call as if it were a jinx. I noticed that it was an international call. “Hello?” I said in a worried tone. Anyway. then the caller should have answered me right away. That may be the reason why I’ve warmed up to him since the day we got to know each other.” I gave my phone to Rain and let him answer it for me. While waiting for the bill. “It’s the same caller. “I’m fine.“So.” “Let me answer it.” “It must be a prank call. The ca—” His words were interrupted by waiter that served our food.” “Their pasta is superb! It’s the best I’ve tasted so far. If it is. It was a text message from an unknown number. And maybe two is better than one. “Hello?” I noticed Rain’s forehead creased as he listened to the other end of the line. my phone started to ring again. I was doing some retouching when my phone rang. I answered the call.” “I agree with you on that. They serve great food here. I excused myself and went to the washroom. but then. what do you think of Vallejo’s?” asked Rain as we wait for out food to be served. This time. thinking that there might be an emergency from our relatives abroad. So maybe it's true that I can't live without you. “May I know who this is?” My hunch was wrong. “Are you alright?” I asked Rain as he gave back my phone. so I decided to end the call. I kept on saying ‘Hello’ but no one’s answering. among Mikko’s group. it was from someone here in the country.” Minutes later. this is my favorite restaurant. they can’t contact Mom so they chose to call me instead. I checked to see who’s calling and found out that it was the same caller from a while ago. “No one’s answering the call. The caller must have said something offending or unpleasant that Rain looked like he’s about to punch someone in the face right now. All the while we were eating. Maybe.” I said then shrugged. I realized that we actually share a huge pool of common interests. I immediately took my phone to check who is calling. “Who was that?” “I don’t know.

Is it Mikko? Probably not. I don’t even know what I am to you. You are such a good man. You have many good qualities. I could feel that he was somewhat hurt that I opened a topic about Mikko. I always do. but remember that I'll do what it takes to be the right one for you. I want to embrace you in my arms and never let you go. I may be the most flawed person in the whole world but I can always change for you. he was more of the vocal type. After all siya naman ang nauna eh. that must be it. it has been so long since I last went here. I’m willing to be a better man for you. I may be the most flawed person in the whole world but I can always change for you.” “Ang emo mo!” “Ikaw kasi you opened up about you and Mikko. I deleted the message believing that it was accidentally sent to me. Again. What if the numbers were just mixed up? Yeah. Who would send me this kind of message? Rain? Impossible. how am I supposed to respond to that revelation? I’m really not used to these things so I pinched Rain’s cheeks and said ‘Ang cute mo. I’m willing to be a better man for you. SOON +639171234567 05/07/2010 8:30PM You may be with somebody else right now. we decided to stop by and hang out for a while in Manila Bay. Unless. I know this isn’t the right time to reminisce about our times together but I just can’t stop myself from thinking about it— about how close and tight we were before.+639171234567 05/07/2010 8:30PM You may be with somebody else right now. “Can I ask you questions. I got jealous. kanina ka pa?” I asked as I approached him. I love you.’ Lame. I wanted to know how he would react if he knew about it. “It’s okay. he’s got a lot of advantages against me. I’ll just be asking hypothetical questions to see how he would respond in each situation.” “I hope you’re not saying those things just to console me.” I mumbled bitterly. “The last time I went here was when Mikko and I were still fine. He could have just told me what he feels personally. I always do. too. I remembered about a constant thought of asking him about my past. so in love with each other. He’s in Spain so he should be using an international number. I was about to return to our table when I saw Rain waiting for me outside the women’s washroom. Rain?” . though. He reached for my hand as we go out of Vallejo’s together. “Hey. I was taken aback with what I read. Rain.” Woah. I understand. I won’t tell him frankly. XIV. I love you. but remember that I'll do what it takes to be the right one for you. every woman’s dream guy. he acquired a new number and had its roaming service opened. his best friend and rival in love. your first boyfriend. If you think about it. Let’s go?” I nodded as my reply.” “Don’t pull yourself down. Judging from the times we spent together. “Not really. the father of Eliah. He was your first love. Since we were near Roxas Boulevard. I want to embrace you in my arms and never let you go. avoiding my gaze. right? In a snap. I looked at Rain and saw him bow his head. You’re impossible not to be liked.

I accept all your imperfections and whatever grave secret you may have. Everyone has a secret.” “I’m fine. keeping a secret for example. what’s up? `Haven’t talked to you in a while.” I said. Am I still Mikko’s girlfriend? I don’t know.” I was about to speak when somebody approached Rain. Gwen. “Rain Gonzales?” “Jairon Villegas?” “Yeah. It’s really hard for me to dig this conversation. Honestly Gwen. unsure of my answer. From: +639171234567 05/07/2010 9:42PM .” My heartbeat was slowly going back to normal. I loved you for who you are.” “What if I’m r-raped?” I stuttered. There is still someone who’s willing to love me despite my impurities. man. While I was composing a message for Nesh.” Rain said.” “What if that secret is very grave? Would you still accept me?” “By grave.” “Thanks. “Are you Gwen as in Mikko Evangelista’s girlfriend?” “Uh… yeah.“Sure. Right now.” “Hi!” I greeted Jairon while shaking hands with him. By the way. this is Gwen Samaniego. dude. I decided to text Neshian while I am waiting for Rain to come back. “Then I’ll ask my stalkers to rape me too. Rain. You should let go of your worries. We didn’t have a formal break up. “What if I’m not really the person that you know? I mean. It was a message from the same sender a while ago. I was a bit getting impatient but I had no choice but to wait. “Excuse us.” I took a deep breath to ready myself for his answers. Gwen. at least I know someone is still willing to accept me despite my sullied past. It wouldn’t be love if I’ll be turned off with your mistakes. I saved my message as a draft and read the new message. this is Jairon. I noticed a new message icon. I could feel my heartbeat increased it beating rate. how grave do you mean?” “What if I killed someone?” “Then I’ll kill someone too so we both have grave sins. Love is seeing an imperfect person perfectly.” “It doesn’t matter anyway. I don’t give a damn about those things. Gwen. “You think too much. I could breathe perfectly now. though. After five minutes… Five minutes had passed but Rain and Jairon were still out of no where. one of my friends in the university. fire away.

Nesh!” I shouted back. For me. holding a bunch of flowers on his hands. I’d go crazy if I’ll lose you. it was already my eighteenth birthday. I checked my phone to see the time. Today marks the second year of an unfortunate event that happened to me when I was sixteen years old. I was half-running when I reached the parking lot. “Thanks.I’ll prove to you that we are meant for each other. “Hey. BZZT! BZZT! I immediately took my phone and read the contents of the message. I saw several notifications indicating messages and missed calls. Everyone was in party mode. Imperfect as we are. “Gwen. Instead of seeing the time. I want to know who’s sending me these messages. Gwen!” Neshian greeted loudly so I could hear her clearly.” he said softly. I love you since the first day we met. That’s a promise. I was. He stood straight when he saw me approach him. I admit I am nervous to know who that guy is. God sent you to me to fill the voids of my life. I saw a guy leaning on a silver SUV. REVELATION July 14. I just went with the flow and danced my heart out there so I could forget my disappointment. Me? I am starting to fidget while waiting for my anonymous texter's message. EBM 528? Sounds familiar. XV. we are a match made in heaven. I rushed to the parking lot right after reading that message. well. I still think you are the most perfect person in the whole world. On your 18th birthday. I decided not to have a grand party for my birthday and opted to celebrate it in a bar with my family and friends. what's more important is to be with the persons closest to your heart and share the memorable moment with them. I am more excited to know who that person is. . 2010 Time surely flies so fast. I was hoping I could still see him there. EMB 528 Audi Q7. From: +639171234567 05/07/2010 9:58PM You’ll know soon. There. let's dance!” one of my friends said while tugging me towards the dancefloor. My heart started pounding as my steps were getting nearer him. Today. More than my birthday. To: +639171234567 05/07/2010 9:45PM May I know who this is? It took a while before the anonymous sender replied back. disappointed to find out that it was just a birthday greeting coming from a friend from school. You complete me. I really thought my anonymous texter would reveal to me at once his identity. Silver Audi Q7. He even knows me. The next thing I knew. Gwen. “Happy eighteenth birthday. It’s creeping me out but it’s warming my heart. even my parents were enjoying the party. +639171234567 07/14/2010 11:56PM Club Synergy Parking lot. Gwen. Time passed by so fast while I was on the dancefloor. my anonymous texter will reveal his identity. too. The whole VIP section of Club Synergy was reserved for us.

Happy birthday. Gwen. What? Are still in love with Mikko? C'mon. Gwen. Those messages? I want to tell you I'm learning to be the Mikko you knew back then. After two years. When Mikko tried to get up. Dad made me realize how stupid I've become. teary-eyed. someone rushed to him and punched him on his face. okay?” I was about to hug him when all of a sudden. FIGHT July 17. I just want to make use of the time we are together. what was that for? How long have you been here?” “I went back here just for your birthday.” “I don't have to know everything! What you did was foul! You slept with another woman while you still have Gwen as your girlfriend. Rain.” “I will. We'll see. I love you. nobody knew that Mikko and I were seeing each other. Mikko.” “Will you still accept me by the time I've changed?” “We'll see. “What are you doing here. I dashed to his side and helped him get up. 2010 “Thanks for the ride home. He fell down the road. Mikko. love. I am afraid that somebody might see him and I might get busted for lying to Mom. I rushed to him and hugged him tight. “Good night.” “Happy birthday. All along.” I leaned forward and kissed Mikko on the cheeks. Mikko. . Mikko. he cheated on you!” “Don't act as if you know everything. I still love him. I'll see you tomorrow. I still like the same old Mikko I knew a few years back. it was the first time I heard him call me 'love' again and greet me for my birthday. Except for me. love.” he said softly as he wiped my tears. I'm so sorry. “Shh. You were even the reason why she had a miscarriage. Gwen. You've already shed so much tears because of me. his nose was bleeding already.“Oh my gosh!” On instinct.” I said. Gwen.” shouted Rain as he grabbed Mikko's collar. Drive safely.” “Good for you then. “I'll walk you to the gate.” “Thank you. bastard?” “Rain!” “You don't deserve him. I really hope you'll change for the better now. it was just him? All along it was Mikko?! “I missed you. “Those messages.” “Thank you. I still do despite all the pain he inflicted. don't cry.” Mikko got down the car even before I got the chance to refuse him. I'll be here for five days. I'll change for you. love. I kept it a secret from everyone because I was afraid they might tell me to stop seeing him.” XVI. face down.

he was in a hurry to get away. “Please… stop it already! Rain! Mikko!” I pleaded but it was as if no one heard me. I was about to lie down on my bed when Dad knocked at my door and entered my room. I swear he mouthed those words to me. rode his car. “What’s the meaning of this? Are you guys fighting in front of my house?!” No one dared to answer my father’s inquiry. looking at the direction of my window. Though the distance was a bit far. the two boys were quarreling. honey?” asked Dad with a blunt expression on his face. From the looks of it. the fighting would have ensued and more of Mikko’s blood would have spilled. cuts. How would Mikko and Rain respond to my dad? Will they be alright? Can they answer my father’s question? I know it sounds as if my dad would eat them alive but I can’t help myself but to feel worried about them.” he mouthed. My heart started beating loudly as we approach the couch on my room. he waved and smiled at me. Mikko’s plain white shirt was now tarnished with his own blood. inside! Now! You better answer my questions or else I’ll wring your necks!” XVII. on the other hand. There was a tug in my heart when the thought of not saying goodbye to him crossed my mind. They must be both terrified with the way he delivered his question—authoritative and loud. I love you. On instinct. I have always been weak when it comes to things like this. I waved at him to let him know I got his message. When he saw me. “D-Dad—” “All of you. “I’m sorry. I’ve never seen Dad as angry as he was a while ago. remained spotless—free from any wound or cut. Mikko did not fight him back. It was Mikko’s. I wanted to get in between them but I was too weak. It was the first time I have seen and heard him like that. I heard our metal gate squeaked open. was standing beside his car. He wanted to discuss the matter with the boys privately. I heard a car sped away. my Dad and one of our male househelp were holding both Rain and Mikko. I rushed to him and kissed him on his cheek. His handsome features were now clouded with bruises. HEART-TO-HEART Loud thumps of my footsteps were the only sound audible in my room. a-hole. and wounds. Are you a coward now?” Mikko did not budge even a bit. His face was now covered with bruises and wounds. on the other hand. Rain. I could not deny the growing tension inside of me. A stream of blood was dripping from the corners of his inflamed mouth. Mikko chose to receive all his punches. “How are you. Am I that worth it for their friendship to be tainted with disgust? “Fight back. I kept pacing back and forth as I wait for my dad to finish talking with the two boys. Rain. Moments later. No bruise was evident in Rain’s figure. As I wait for them to finish. Even I was frightened with the impact of his voice. . He continued to accept all of Rain’s jabs. I peeked from my room’s window to see which car had gone. Just because of me. If not for them. and sped away. He asked me to wait for him in my room and we will have our own discussion as soon as he finishes talking with the boys. He waved back.Tears were streaming down my face as I continue to watch Rain beat the hell out of Mikko. “Coward!” Rain growl as his fist landed on Mikko’s swollen cheeks.

” Dad let out a heavy sigh before he turned to me. It was to prove to you that he’s willing to be a better man and he wants to start now. What do I think about them? “I-I don’t know. In fact. You’ve learned a lot from all the trials that you went through. If I knew him before Mikko came along. If Mikko or Rain wants to see you or talk to you. No cell phone. There must be some reason why everything’s happening the way it is right now. no internet. I don’t know Mikko’s issues but there was a strong force that tells me that Mikko really wants to be a better man. “Don’t cry. honey. Sadly it didn’t happen that way. Rain was so determined to prove to you that he really loves you. He has been there during the darkest moments of my life. no anything that’s related to communication.” I frankly stated what I truly feel about Mikko. I really do.” My heartbeat became faster as I wait for Dad to continue his sentence. I’ve talked to the two boys already. I can hardly think of what to answer. Four men love you. Dad. Gwen. Alam mo. you got it wrong. I can see conviction in their eyes. I’m so lucky to have an understanding father like him. He wrapped his sturdy arms around me and hugged me tight. As a consequence. and of course your little Eliah. “Four?” “Me. I can see the desire to change in his eyes. I wouldn’t trade him for the world. Never did I hear a single word from him contesting me about being a young mom. honestly.” I found myself crying again because of what Dad’s narrating to me. We will always have a connection through Eliah. He accepted me for who I am. I mean. Dad!” I embraced Dad tighter and rewarded him with a kiss on his cheeks. No. he’s the best friend I could ever have.” “Do you still love Mikko?” “I do. I would have chose and fallen for him.” . Of course. ha. Mikko is and will always be Eliah’s father. You lied to your Mom. Let them prove to you how sincere they are. the fact that he was the first man in my life will never be changed. He’s always there for me and never hesitates to help me. Call me a martyr or whatever but I believe in him. He is such a good friend. “Kung akala mo nakaligtas ka na. I am so proud of you. the reason why he didn’t fight back when Rain was beating him was because Mikko believes that he deserves all those punches. I know he can still change for the better. They are both special to me. Dad. I was touched. calm down. “What do you think about Mikko and Rain? What are they to you?” Silence enveloped the room for a few minutes. you cannot go out of the house for a week. too!” “Thanks. Rain. I didn’t quite expect that Mikko would do that just to show me how regretful he is. “How about Rain?” “He’s a good friend. “You’ve grown so much. he’s special too. I owe him a lot.“I’m fine. How did your inquiry go?” “Hey. All those misunderstandings. As for Rain.Si Mikko naman. Mikko. Though we have a lot of misunderstandings. when I was talking to the two boys. He planted a kiss on my hair before he spoke. they have to do that here—at home with your Mom as the witness. You should be proud. You don’t have to choose right away. there must be a reason why he did those things to me.” Dad assured me as he wiped away the tears on my cheeks. I already know their intentions and the reason why they had a fight. He received all those powerful jabs to show to you that he’s repentant for all his sins. Dad. honey. He can be the Mikko that I used to know—the Mikko that I fell in love with. I have to scrutinize them.

There was a hopeful glint on his eyes. We all have a chance to be someone we want to be. he was smiling at me as if I were the prettiest girl in the world. Have a safe trip. All we need is to grab every opportunity that comes our way and do something about it. there was no sign of Mikko. “Hey! Are you sure you want to hear my answer?” “Would I ask if I don’t want to hear your answer?” “I do. not meeting my gaze.” “Will you give me the chance to prove myself? That I am sincere with my intentions with you? That I’ve been loving you for a long time?” He was looking at me intently while waiting for my answer. I still think he deserves it. “Forgiven. He looked up in the sky. He did not meet up with me after the fight with Rain and the talk with Dad. How am I supposed to answer him with that kind of question? Should I say yes? Should I decline him? What now. He tucked me in and gave me a good night kiss. he looked back at me and said. I miss Mikko. Mikko must be one of the passengers of that plane. Have a good night sleep. I’m sorry.” With that. I looked up and saw an airplane pass by.” “Good thing I didn’t spoil you.” “Then. His eyes were begging for a . right?” “Of course.” “I love you more. “Thank you for being honest. I was having a little trip down memory when somebody placed a hand on my shoulder. will you forgive me for beating the hell out of Mikko? Though. “But everyone deserves a chance. “Sweet dreams. honey. I closed my eyes and silently wished for his safe journey to Spain. happier. Too bad.” There’s no need to deny it. Rain.” said Rain. Mikko. I thought absuwelto na ako. Unlike earlier. looked away. As usual. “Missing him?” I turned to the person who just spoke and saw that it was Rain. Dad. Dad.” Dad carried me and laid me on my bed. my princess Gwen. Ain’t he the coolest dad? XVIII. he turned off the lights and closed the door. It might hurt Rain but it might hurt even more if I lied. HELLOS AND GOODBYES Two days had passed but still. on the other hand. I. I thought with my eyes still closed.” He was still looking up. I remained in that position for a while.” “Good night. I love you.“Aww. Gwen? I tried to take a glimpse of his reaction. Gwen. in the same direction where I was looking a while ago. He must be on his way back to Spain. I missed the chance to say goodbye to him before he left. I don’t want to lie about my true feelings. his expression now is lighter. I heard a buzz from the sky. When he was about to close the door.

” I stood up. Make the most out of it. I don’t regret the decisions I’ve made in those times. They stood up and gave Rain him a tight hug. I. I just hope it's true. “Hi.chance to let him prove himself. Yes. won't I be betraying Mikko? We don't have a formal break up which makes us still a couple.” “I guess it wouldn't hurt to actually believe in your words. Rain!” Isabel and Koo chorused. You won't regret this. Babe. Gwen.” I said proudly. We’ve been together for five months now. . After all. A lot has happened in two years and one of which is falling in love with Rain. “Gwen?” I let out a deep sigh before I finally answered Rain. one of my classmates this semester. looked at the person that Isabel is watching. Yes. what matters right now is the present. He gave me a kiss on the cheek and hugged me tighter. I'm giving you one chance.” said Koo with a big smile on her face. “Alright. I’ve never been this happy. What will I do if all of my doubts and fears happen? How will I respond? I guess I'll just cross the bridge when I get there.” Isabel. A big smile started to form on my lips as I watch the person walk towards us. I am back to school. I'm confused but I have this urge to give him a chance. XIX. I hope you end up with him. approached Rain and hugged him. “Thank you. I don’t care about what my other classmates say about me being twenty years old but still in first year. “You seem so in love. I should just enjoy and savor every moment. Gwen. I think it’s the best decisions I’ve made so far.” I turned to Isabel who’s looking at someone from the opposite direction. in turn.” “Hi. I guess falling for Rain made my life even better. His words were very reassuring. “Hi. Should I stick to what I have said earlier? Should I give him a chance that he truly deserves? But if I said 'yes'. Kudos to him for doing such a great job in making you happy. Rain and I are officially together. I can really see that she’s happy for me. “Ehem. NEW BEGINNING 2 years later… “Wow. I feel like I would not regret any moment that I am with him. Only Isabel. speaking of the devil. “Superhuman? Grabe ka naman. They already know Rain since they’ve met a couple of times already. I’ve never been this happy and I am glad that I allowed myself to give that person a chance—that special person. I am currently a first year college student in one of the prestigious universities here in Manila. I promise. commented. Koo and three other friends know the real situation. I was sharing some parts of my life with her and Koo.” What will I do if I fall in love with him? What about Mikko? Eliah? What if he learns the truth about me? Will he still love me? Too many what ifs are entering my mind. I’ll never get tired of this. my other classmate and friend. I’m just blessed to have someone who’s willing to accept me for who I am. girls. Gwen. you’re like a superhuman! You can handle your baby and your studies very well. I just have someone to lean on that’s why I’m taking the situation lightly.” Rain hugged me tight as he kept on saying his gratitude.

The best reward that I got was when you finally accepted me and learned to love me. “I’m happy. “If there’s somebody who should really be happy. I love you. I really do. why are you smiling?” he asked. Rain. INEVITABLE QUESTION I was doing a research paper on one of my subjects when heard my bedroom door opened.” The two girls giggled as I gave them my whatever-you-say look. too.If you’re wondering about Mikko. He taught me how to leave the past behind. still embracing me with his small but chubby arms. “Hmm… a little bit. “I guess Koo and I should leave already. I am really hoping that this relationship will work better than my previous one. he never fails to make me feel how special I am. showing a set of perfect white teeth. I was able to move forward. I love you. There was a big smile on his face as he peeked inside my room.” Rain smiled. I know that he’s pleased with what he just heard. I never thought that I could stand a chance against Mikko. that would be wishing that I could spend the rest of my life ith him. He showed me the beauty of life that is yet to uncover. I will. I decided to forget him and just move on. Mommy?” he slowly asked. Gwen. I’m really happy that you gave me a chance to prove myself. Rain. in turn. Take care of our friend. he’ll feel how much I mean those words.” I said as I hugged him from behind and kissed his plump cheeks. Thanks to Rain. I. cupping my face with his two hands. “Hey. hugging him tighter. I just can’t help but smile at the thought that this handsome guy beside me is mine and I’m his. I have not heard any news about him since the day he left the country. From his expression. It was hard but I’m glad I managed. He never attempted to reach out. Baka makaistorbo pa kami sa lambingan niyo. He taught me a lot things and I owe it to him. he’s your first love. You taught me a lot of things.” I said.” Some of the students are looking at us as we approach his car with our hands clasped together. to make the most of the present and to hope for a better future. wishing that through my hug. that should be me. He turned to me and coiled his hands around me.” said Koo as she and Isabel wave goodbye. “Bye. With his actions. Thank you for this chance. XX. lifted Eliah and let him sit on my lap. After all. The tiny opening from the door revealed my little angel’s handsome face. too. He gave me a big fat kiss on the cheeks that made me smile even wider than my smile a while ago. If there's one thing that I am praying so hard for.” He hugged me tight and kissed me on my forehead. I love Rain. “Hi baby. When I smiled at him. I have nothing to say.” “Let’s go?” “Yeah. I owe the past two years of my life to you.” “Are you doing that for school. “I’m just happy because you’re mine. You don’t need to worry. Mommy?” . Eliah’s waiting inside the car. well. I hope this will work better than the last time. Gwen. Rain. he dashed to my side and hugged one of my legs. “Are you busy. we should leave already. well. I felt warm with his gesture. “Of course.

He treated Eliah as if Eliah was his own son—a feeling that Mikko. baby. I hate it when he cries. HIS APPEARANCE? The following day. Argh. too. you’ll go to school like Mommy. stressing out his point. it is for Mommy’s school. He’s fond of watching Barney and Friends and enjoys singing with them too.” Eliah looked disappointed with what I just said. I have less time to spend with him. Rain was the one who was taking care of Eliah whenever I have to attend school. Together with Mom. “You will. It is actually the first time that I heard him ask about Mikko. It seems that he was anticipating meeting Mikko. Will I get to see Daddy Mikko when I’m four?” he said as he pointed out Mikko’s face in the picture. I never thought that he was interested in meeting his real father. As a mother.” “Will I go to school. Mommy?” As I look into my child’s eyes. he would just nod and walk away. I will do everything to grant Eliah’s wish. “When you’re four. to read. to dance. Though Mikko was indifferent to his own son. He knows that Mikko is his biological father. his real father. At the age of three. I thank Rain for doing the things that should have been mine. I am proud of his little achievements. baby. My son deserves to know this for he is carrying his father’s name—Eliah Brenn Michael Evangelista III.” Yes. Rain said that Eliah deserves to know who his real father is for Eliah is Mikko’s flesh and blood. too. I have no news about your Daddy Mikko. He freed himself from my embrace and tried to reach out to one of the picture frame that was on my study table. I never had a second thought to let Eliah know who his real father is. Rain and I talked about the possible ways on how we could contact Mikko. and to sing. “I don’t know. Yes. when I am four?” “But you always see Daddy Rain right?” Eliah shook his head hard. he could now read some children’s book and could write his name. right Mommy?” said Eliah in between sobs. It makes me want to do the impossible just to make him happy. and Rain is his second father. he would patiently teach Eliah how to count. It’s a good thing that Rain was open to the idea of letting Eliah meet his own father. never let Eliah feel. Mommy. I could see his desire to enter school. I would have been prouder if I were the one teaching him how to write.“Yes.” I showed him the number four with my fingers to indicate what I am saying. “I’ll get to see him right? I’ll get to see him. He imitated me by showing the number four with his hands. “Will I get to see Daddy too. Because of school. and to write. but I think. “I’m asking about Daddy Mikko. to read. Usually. Honestly. The only question is where do I start? XXI. Tears were slowly forming on his eyes. I promise you’ll get to see your Daddy Mikko even before you get four years old. honey. whenever I tell him about his Dad. I am shocked to hear Eliah’s question. Just like my opinion. .

I might as well give it a shot. I decided to start sending Mikko some messages. Doña Althea Esguerra-Evangelista. my supposed-to-be mother-in-law. especially in my case—a rape victim and a teenage mom. Think about it. as usual. He wants to see you badly and I hope you can grant that wish. there’s no harm in trying right?” Our last plan. Tita Amanda loved me to be Rain’s girlfriend.” “Well. I know. It was a clear sign that Doña Althea does not want to involve herself in this search for Mikko. But I guess we have to give up on this idea. I know in my heart that they would still accept me and love me for who I am. If Doña Althea never liked me for Mikko. she never bothered to answer any of his calls. Mikko. He said he wants to meet you when he gets four years old. That same night. a pretentious relationship. Or simply Tita Althea to the people she likes. it’s about Eliah. I guess it doesn’t matter anymore. The public knows her as a sweet and loving matron. How are you? It’s been a while right? I hope you’re doing fine wherever you are. but in truth. remember? You know. He had been calling Doña Althea for five days now. She never liked me for Mikko.“Have you talked to her already?” I asked Rain as he put down his mobile on the table. You know that I always wish for your happiness. I was never one of those. I know you are wondering why I wrote to you. “She’s out of reach. Quote Hey Mikko. organizing charity programs and stuff. I just hope he still uses his old email address. I . Though they (Rain and his family) still don’t know about me being raped. is Mikko’s mother. She’s a busy person. I don’t know if this one would work but Rain was right. In those five days. She would just talk to me whenever Mikko’s around. Well. If I am lucky enough. “I guess we really have to stick to our last plan. I just hope he would take time in thinking about seeing Eliah. Acceptance is what I need best. Mikko might be able to receive the messages and pictures that I would be sending him. There’s no harm in trying.” We tried reaching out to Doña Althea to ask the whereabouts of MIkko and to ask her on how we could possibly talk to Mikko. I am hoping that Mikko would receive and read those messages. she was only affectionate to the people she favored. Thank God for this kind of people—open-minded and not judgmental.

Mommy! Daddy’s here!” Eliah was really happy as he shared his story. you can show him that you are his father and that you actually care for him. I’ll be waiting for your reply. on the other hand. He just got home from the learning center that Rain enrolled him in. Mommy. okay? I’m sure he won’t hurt Eliah. Do you have any news about him?” “I don’t know. -Gwen --Months had passed but still. baby! How’s your day?” I asked as I lifted him. “He was waiting outside our classroom.” Eliah followed immediately and ran up to his room with his Yaya not forcing you to do this if it is against your will. called Rain. Rain. we have no contact from Mikko. I was watching TV when a familiar laugh caught my ears. . Eliah said that he saw Mikko a while ago. Mommy. I guess something good happened at school. his aura was glowing. The door burst wide open and two figures emerged from the outside. I just really hope that for once. I’ll try to ask our friends if Mikko did come back recently. Now. It was evident in his face. I really had fun playing with Daddy! I finally saw him. “Mommy! Mommy!” Eliah said enthusiastically as he approach me. He’s back. honey. We’ll talk later. Don’t worry about it. I just don't want to bother him because this means a lot to him. I hope you get to read this message. how are you?” Rain said as soon as he picked up the phone. I hope to talk to you about this topic soon. Though he does not reply. It will mean a lot to him. go up and change your shirt. Gwen. I. Rain and I decided to let him join Rain’s aunt’s pre-school. Eliah looked so excited. Don’t worry now. I just really hope the messages reach him. okay?” “What about your review? Won’t it interrupt you?” Rain is currently reviewing for his Accountancy Board Exams. Thanks. What if someone’s trying to pose as Mikko? You know how some kidnappers work right?” “If you’re worrying about it. I continued sending him messages and updates of how Eliah had been for the past months. Mommy! I saw Daddy Mikko!” He saw Mikko? How can that be possible? Is Mikko back here in the Philippines? Questions started to invade my mind as Eliah narrated his day with Mikko. “I’m bothered.” “I’m not worried about that. “Hey. “Really? I’m happy for you. Rain. “It’s okay. then I’ll personally fetch Eliah everyday from his school. He played with me until Yaya Chamie arrived. “Hi.

” “Thank you. Are you here to fetch your son?” “Yes. dear. Where is Eliah? Did the man posing as Mikko abduct him? Or is Eliah just somewhere near the school? Oh. I went to the classrooms and checked every room to see if Eliah was there. If I were a wax. Eliah kept on sharing that he saw Mikko and played with his dad. “Check the classrooms.” “Thanks. too. Mikko. I want Mikko back for Eliah's sake. Drive safely. Tita Amie.” “I love you. there was no single trace of Eliah. . Quote FR: Rain You know I can’t argue with you. He never failed to make my heart flutter everytime he sends me sweet messages. Take care. After replying to his message. That’s when I decided to see for myself whether my son was really seing Mikko or not. Panic started to invade my senses when after checking all the classrooms. Take care. He insisted to do the job. “Hi. You’ve always been my weakness. I think that’s where I last saw him. Rain. I haven’t seen you in a while.” I greeted the old lady then kissed her on the cheeks. and drove to Eliah’s school. my kryptonite. Eliah’s safety is much more important.” “Thank you. Mikko. Tita Amie runs the learning center where Eliah’s a part of. ignited the engine. COMEBACK Rain had been fetching Eliah from school for a week now. “Hi. I love you. dug out my car keys. Gwen! It is good to see you here. Tita. Gwen. I can't even imagine my son being away from me! I really hope it's really Mikko. I really hope. In that one week. I love you. Don't get me wrong. Tita!” With that. good Lord. okay? I’ll call you later when I get some news about Mikko. Are you really back or my son’s just too excited to see you? XXII. Rain had seen no trace of Mikko’s existence. I’m yours for all eternity. I texted Rain that I would be the one to fetch Eliah from school today.” I can't help myself but to doubt whether Mikko's back or not. too.“It’s okay. but I argued with him and told him to review for his upcoming board exam. I’d top the board for you so you can be proud to have me as your boyfriend. She’s about my mom’s age and she’s Rain’s mom’s sister. princess. Right after class. I would have melted right now. please assure me that my son is safe. I put back my mobile inside my bag. Mikko. Have you seen Eliah?” I courteously asked Tita Amie. But what if my thoughts were right? What if some kidnappers want to take my child away? Gosh.

” “Shut up!” I feel like a bi-polar. For the first time in three years. Though my eyes were blurred with tears. Gwen?” “You’re back. I was still crying for I could not control the flow of tears streaming down my eyes.” “What do you mean you and a certain someone?” “I’ll explain later. masaya na tayong pamilya. seeing you here.” “Believe it now.” “I missed you and our son.” Eliah grabbed my hand and drag me towards the man who was kneeling on the ground a while ago. I felt my tears roll down my eyes as comfort replaced the panic that had set in my system.” “Thank you too. Sana noon ko pa naisip na magpakatino. Mommy. Gwen. The messages got me thinking. It was the first time that the three of us were really together. Daddy Mikko’s here. I am back and I’m staying here for good. Just so right.” “Don’t worry. bowing his head down. I owe it to you. “Mommy!” Eliah shouted animatedly the moment he saw me standing two feet away from him. We sat on the opposite side of Eliah. he would always tell me stories about you. I am certain that my vision is not playing a trick on me. At first I don’t want to believe but now. It was really him. And it feels just right. I’m happy to see him this happy. You are back. the comfort rooms. Whenever he comes home after school. I was just talking to Daddy Mikko. I was on the right while he was on the left. Me and a certain someone for that matter. “Why can’t I be a father to my own child?” It was really a revelation. laughing so hard while crying at the same time. . For now. I know I should not think about morbid thoughts but I cannot help it! This is about my son! I cannot just put this issue to rest. “Hi. baby. Thank you Gwen. God. He jumped down from the swing and ran towards me. the activity area.” he said. “I received all your emails.” I said in between sobs. the playground! I was half running just to reach the playground in record time. Mommy? Did you and Daddy Rain have a fight?” “”Mommy’s just happy to see you. I hugged him tight as soon as I was able to reach him. Yes. Mommy. for realizing those things. There’s one place left—the playground. we looked like a family. It was him. the quadrangle. I… I can’t believe it.Paranoia is freaking me out. “Why are you crying. Come. E di sana noon pa. “Oh. his lips forming a bitter smile. my gosh!” “How have you been. The three of us walked together towards a nearby bench. stop crying will you? You look gross. baby. Please stop crying. I’m happy. “We can always start over right?” I said assuringly. I was worried because I did not see you in the classrooms. having embraced my child like this. Gwen. I was relieved when I saw Eliah sitting on the swing while a man was kneeling in front of him. I checked all the possible places of where he could possibly be—the classrooms. Eliah really needs you. Once again. I feel so reassured.

I’m having a family dinner with my Mommy and Daddy!” Having my family complete. his shoulder to lean on. why are you sad? Will Tita Krizza come here too just like yesterday?” “No.” The tone of his voice suggested authority. Gwen. baby. The place had a perfect view of the majestic sun as it fades across the horizon. The ‘what if’ and the ‘would have been’ scenarios flooded my mind as he and Eliah bonded as we wait for our food to be served.” “Daddy. why are you smiling like that?” Mikko commented. You don’t know how long have I been wishing for this moment to happen. the loud thumping of my heart was audible. I wish I didn’t force you. “So. Everything has a reason. I wouldn’t have Eliah as my baby. a miracle in my life. It was like a rule that should not be broken. Memories of the yesteryears started to rush in--memories of Mikko and I as we first told each other ‘I love you. I mean. You and I might as well discuss some important matters that concern our family. I wouldn’t have an angel to make me happy every time I am sad. She has to fix some papers then she’ll go back here soon. Mikko and I. and laugh all at the same time.“I hope so. Tita Krizza went back to Spain this morning. . He’s the Mikko that I once knew. his best friend. But I didn’t regret having Eliah. I am happy.” he said. “Yeah.” It is true. He spent most of his time in Spain in a rehabilitation center that his dad sent him to. JEALOUSY Mikko brought us to a fine dining restaurant that sits across the Manila Bay. We would have been together for four going on five years now. okay?” I said. “Are you free tonight? I’d like to have a family dinner with the two of you. as he says. I know Eliah is now happy to be with Mikko.” “Yay! Yay! Family dinner! Yehey. knowing that Mikko accepts Eliah. but I wish I did it the right way.’ Looking back gave a familiar feeling inside my heart. I’m sorry for being such a jerk years ago. tell me how have you been?” Mikko and I shared of what had happened about us for the past two years. I guess it’s a good idea.” “Who’s Krizza?” Instead of answering my question. I can now say that he’s back. scream. I would still let that fateful night happen. sure. and the shivering feeling of giddiness was equally present. He’s a blessing. “Me too. “I am just happy to see both of you together. XXIII. The familiar fluttering of butterfly wings inside my stomach was there. he stood up and carried Eliah. I hope so. seeing Eliah this happy. reaching for his hand on the table. “Hey. If not for that day. “Let’s not talk about that. too. the Mikko that I had once fallen in love so madly with. He was healed emotionally.” “Well. All those bad memories. Mikko.” He had this regretful look on his face. It makes me want to cry. his lips forming into a frown. that Mikko was able to accept Eliah as his own child. I could not ask for more. If I were to rewrite my life according to my own desire. I know we both didn’t what happened. There he met Krizza. and mentally. “Let’s just move on.

“So I guess this will be the last time I’ll see you as a bachelor?” I said sadly. ELIAH BRENN MICHAEL EVANGELISTA? WHY ARE YOU WITH THAT SLUT?” screamed Doña Althea Esguerra-Evangelista. please don’t cry. but it didn’t reach his eyes.. I know he’s against it. please? I don’t want to see you cry. I let loose of all the tears that I’ve been holding back. I still love him. alone in our own world. Both of us object it. I was with him for a long time. too. I am jealous.” I was left speechless. Don’t make this hard for me. He’s the only one all along. I called Chammie to take Eliah to his room. The awkwardness of the moment began to rise up. It was just too sudden. But I guess at the back of my mind. Krizza is in Spain right now to ask for Dad’s help. There was a pang in my heart as the words he uttered began to sink in. No matter how many times I deny it. love. Gwen. XXIV. He was my first in everything. “Shhh. dishonored. we both got down from his car. the waiter came and served us our meal. I did love Rain. I do. .“So tell me more about this Krizza girl. I know we’ll make it together. What is happening? “Don’t think much about it. Mikko’s mother. Gwen. He was my first love. Someone. “Wow… Best wishes to the two of you then. I still do. Just like now. I wanted to have a word with Mikko.” He smiled. We quietly dined and right after finishing our meal.” Mikko hugged me tighter.. there will never be a perfect moment. I felt dirty. my heart still belongs to Mikko. Her words were usual but were powerful enough to make me feel like a shameful woman that should be banished and tormented for her crimes. But then. “The truth is that Mom and Krizza’s parents want us to get married.” “H-How?. Just hang on. He’s getting married with Krizza. He was the first man in my life. REVELATION Doña Althea’s words pierced through my heart like a sword. dumbfounded. “Don’t worry about it. a bit. It was just Mikko and I. All the feelings came rushing back to me. I was standing in front of him while he was leaning down on his car. We’ll make it through. he’s still the one. I… How’s that possible?” How could Rain know everything? Rain told me he has no contact with Mikko. For a moment. Don’t cry now. I felt as if I were really a slut—sullied.” There was a long a pause between us. the world seemed to stop. Rain knows everything. When we reached the house. as a single tear rolled down my eye.” Love. Painful. love. “W-what about R-Rain?” I whispered in between sobs. somehow will arrive and ruin it. I know I should not feel this way but I cannot help it. His eyes were telling a different story. He reached for me and enveloped me in a tight embrace. plague of the society. he took Eliah and me home. He called me love. “WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THIS. I promise you. Good thing. It’s just our parents’ decision. the antagonist in our own love story. After Chammie arrived.

” “I won’t go home without you. still with the smug smile on her face. Mom! You are overreacting already!” . We have a wedding to arrange. my little angel. People bow down before her. not even her own son. I am usually the calm one but this time. Is that bad. clenching his fists tightly into a ball. His eyebrows were now forming a line. He’s too precious to be called as such. that I can still take. hijo. I am going to forget that she’s someone from the high society. Mom. mom. her lips were pursed by so much anger. Eliah and me. I intend to build our family—Gwen. the rule. mother.” Doña Althea commanded Mikko like a dog. I am going to let loose all the anger within me. I bowed down and reached for my forehead. The old woman began to close the distance between us. my son? I just used your suggestion from way back. “Stop it. But calling my son. The wounds she created were getting deeper and deeper. and play dead. Mom!” shouted the infuriated Mikko. As she moves closer to us.” Mikko’s voice was calmer now. hijo! You don’t have a future with that immoral woman and her bastard son!” She was screaming her lungs out this time. I am taking you away from that slut! She’s no good for you! Krizza’s way better than her. I don’t care. I closed my eyes for the attempt to compose myself and control the anger building within me. our son. Her wrinkle-free face was now tainted with creases. Mikko? Have you gone insane. After hearing her words.” Mikko shoved his mother’s arm when his mom tried to grab him away. Call me stupid for loving Mikko all these years despite the sufferings. I don’t give a damn. She was up for a scandalous night. Call me brainless for letting someone like Rain slip away. I can’t let it pass. but his mother thought otherwise. I am trying to remind myself that she is Mikko’s mother. I came back for her. “I love Gwen. She sounded like a dog trainer commanding her pet dog to sit. She never cared about anyone. “You are choosing that slut over our family. Let us be. “What are you doing here anyway. though. She sure is full of herself. Come on now. There was a trace of impatience and irritation in his voice. that I can’t endure. Call me a martyr for enduring all the pain that Mikko gave me. You know. He’s trying to reason out with his mother in a peaceful way. Mom? How did you know I am here?” “I am taking you back from that slut. when you and I had suspected that your father was having an affair with one of my amigas. But one more word—one more foul word—coming from her. She was always like this—so full of herself.“Stop calling her a slut. Mom. She is the high society’s authority. Mikko. “I hired someone to look after you. That woman has polluted your mind already. I tried to change for her so she can take me back. I swear. Mikko gently pushed me aside when his mom was just a few steps away from us. “Don’t drag that old issue back. I can tell he did not like the idea of having his mother following him around. and her eyes were blazing with fury. His mom was taken aback for a moment but was able to recover easily—in a mad way. The high and mighty Doña Althea Esguerra-Evangelista was making a scene and it’s pissing me off. Let’s talk some other time. mother?” Mikko repeated his words with much intensity. She should be respected. lie down. her perfectly shaped brows formed an almost one straight line. She never cared about anybody’s feelings and emotions. my son? That money-sucking whore? Get a life. Go home. I was hurt even more. No one dared to break her rules. I could feel Mikko’s grasp tighten. “How did you know I am here.” The woman shrugged. a bastard. “Then what is she? A whore?” A smug smile dominated the old lady’s face.

Mom. We need to bring Tita Amanda to the hospital. This is just too heavy on my part. I clung onto Mom tighter. Gwen. “Don’t worry about Tita Amanda. After all. okay?” reassured Mikko. My parents raised me up as a decent woman. footsteps of about two to three persons running. we’ll brave this storm together. I’ll be here. She’ll fine. Ma’am. Please save her. stopping his mom from slapping me. Your son raped me!” “How dare you speak ill about my son!” The old woman hurriedly closed the remaining distance between us. After a few minutes of crying on Mikko’s chest.“Hah! So you are siding with that loose woman? Are you even sure that her bastard son is your child? You’ve become a fool. I saw my mother having a heart attack right in front of me. She needs me. Mom! I RAPED GWEN! I FORCED HER TO HAVE SEX WITH ME!” I heard a collective gasp coming from the front gate. I opened my eyes and saw him holding his mother’s arm. “MOM!” I shouted and ran to her side the moment her body made contact with the ground. I closed my eyes and waited for her hand to land on my cheek. I heard the metal gates creak. During the whole trip. her hand on her chest. CONFRONTATION It has been three days but Mom has not opened her eyes yet. I’m going to make sure she’s safe. “It’s true. except Mom whose brows were connected in a line. Mom. but I was never a slut! Never did I flirted nor seduced your son! He raped me. The moment I heard Mikko’s voice. I love her. I don’t need Mikko for his money. Her doctors assured us that it is quite normal . Save my mother from harm. love. “It’s all my fault. Mikko! Can’t you see through her plans? She’s just us—” “I’m sorry to cut you off. Sorry to burst your bubble. it’s not your fault. we decided to follow Rain to the hospital. I witnessed my Mom as collapsing to the ground. my heart was pounding rigorously. It’s all my fault. but I think you have no right to accuse me as such. waiting for Doña Althea’s hand to land on my face. “If something happens to Tita Amanda. She had a heart attack because of me. allowed me to cry my eyes out. I felt somebody pull me away from my Mom. XXV.” I started crying again. He pulled me up and enveloped me in a tight hug as Rain carried Mom towards the car. Ma’am. I was too absorbed by the pain that I am feeling right now. Though blurred with tears. “C’mon now. This is all my fault. He gathered me in his arms and once again. I swear I won’t talk to you ever again. Mikko’s mom insulted me. I kept my eyes closed. dear Lord. I resisted. still clutching her chest. Mom had a heart attack. She was slowly kneeling down. Chammie and Rain who was carrying Eliah were all standing there. I just nodded at him and silently prayed for their safe arrival in the hospital. “Shh. I won’t forgive myself if something happens to her. I need her in my life. Gwen.” That was the last thing I heard from the surroundings. I was restless. love. I won’t be able to make it without her. I won’t leave you now. I’ll be here. Don’t worry. She needs to be taken care of. I guess God wants them to know about our past. More tears were flowing down my face and blurring my vision. I know about the high society’s so-called etiquette. Mikko.” said Rain before he rushed Mom to the hospital. I can’t bear to lose my mother. Save her. She raised her hand and was about to slap me. hugged her tighter. I cannot leave her at times like this. Tears are streaming down my face even before Mikko’s mom’s hand reached my face. I am the root of all this mess. having a heart attack. They were all wearing the same shocked expressions. Mom probably heard the truth about me already. Lord.” Mikko pulled the car into a halt and parked the car in the nearby parking lot.

since Mom is still coping up and regaining her strength. It was good news, of course, but the thought of Mom being half-conscious makes me shiver in fear and guilt. She had an attack because of what she heard about me. If something happens to her, the blame would be directed towards me. They may not air their opinions but the tension inside the room every time everyone is present is suffocating enough for me not to notice. I am the one at fault. I am the one to blame for all of this. “Sweetheart, you should rest a bit. You’ve been looking after your Mom for more than 24 hours. Take some nap, honey. I’ll take care of your Mom for you,” said Dad calmly while caressing my back. He just got back from the convenience store to buy some food for us. Mom’s hospital room has become our home for the past few days. “It’s okay, Dad. I can still handle myself.” I don’t want to leave Mom’s side. Not when I am the cause of all this mess. “Can we talk then?” A lump began to form in my throat. It was becoming hard to swallow. My nasal airways were becoming narrower as air finds it hard to go in and out. My heart began to pump twice the usual pace as my mind was clouded with questions. Is this the inevitable confrontation? Will they disown me? Will they deny me now as their daughter? Will they still love me despite of being dirty? Will they still love me like the way they used to? Will they treat me as the Gwen they used to know? Dad patted my back and led me towards the couch. I know for sure that this conversation is about me being raped years ago. I sat there stiffly, waiting for my Father to utter his first word. Beads of sweat were running down on the sides of my face to my neck. “Why didn’t you tell us, Gwen? We could have helped you before. Why did you keep it to yourself, anak?” His voice was mild but it was not enough to put my heart at ease. I am scared that Dad might shove everything to my face. I am afraid that he would blame everything to me. “I am so sorry, Dad. I am so sorry.” I broke down. I was never good in confrontations like this. I always end up the loser without even starting the fight. “Forgive me, Dad. I was scared that you’ll reject me. I was scared of what you guys might brand me.” I buried my face in my hands while crying endlessly. Dad just sat there probably looking down on me. He must be disgusted with me already. He must be thinking of ways on how to tell me that he doesn’t want me to be his daughter anymore. But I was wrong. Instead of telling me harsh words, he held me close in a warm embrace. He stroked my back as he mumbled comforting words to stop me from crying. “We will never do that, Gwen. We love you so much, anak. We would have fixed things earlier.” “Sorry, Dad. I was so scared that you might reject me. I was engulfed by my own fears. Mikko threatened me that he’ll tell Mom about it. I was frightened on what will happen to Mom so I never dared to tell anybody about it. I’m really sorry, Dad. I’m really sorry it turned out like this.” Dad freed me from his embrace and wiped my tears away. His eyes speak of assurance, concern, and love. I guess they’re right. You will always run back to your family when things get out of hand. “We will never reject you, honey. You are our only child. Of course, we’ll do everything to make you safe and make sure you’re alright. But please don’t get mad at Daddy when you hear what I am going to say, okay?” My forehead automatically creased after hearing his words. Nevertheless, I nodded and assured Dad that I’ll

listen to him and won’t get mad at him. But one can’t deny the fact that my heart is like racing with a dozen horses and roaring like an angry lion. Dad took a deep breath before speaking. “The truth is I already know about this.” I was… dumbfounded. My jaws dropped literally. I never had a hint that Dad already knew about it. He never said a word nor gave a single clue that he knows something. His actions towards me were still the same as before. We never had an awkward moment when we’re together. To think, Dad became even sweeter to me. How? How come Dad knew all along? Did Mom knew something too? Why did he not confront me about this earlier? “I know a lot of questions are formulating inside your mind right now. Listen to me please, darling?” Dad pleaded while holding my hands tightly. I wasn’t able to speak a word. I was too shocked. All I could do was to nod and to listen to his words. “Do you remember that day when I caught Mikko and Rain fighting in front of our house? We had a serious talk that night. I asked them about their intentions and they were both serious with you. Then unexpectedly, Mikko started telling about that incident. He told me everything that he did to you. I was shocked when he told me that he forced you to have sex with him, beat the hell out of you, he cheated on you. You lost your second child because you saw him with another woman. He confessed everything to us, anak. I admire his courage to confess that. But I admired him even more when I heard the real reason behind everything and heard of his desire to change for the better.” I was too absorbed with what Dad has been narrating that I did not notice that I was crying once again. I wiped my tears and eagerly listened to Dad as he continues his story. “He did everything on purpose, Gwen. He wanted you to hate him. He wanted you to leave him. He did all the bad things that he could think of so you would find him unbearable. He was actually saving you from his mother’s wrath. He told me that from the beginning, his mother never liked you for Mikko. Though it was hard for him, he did all those things for your own sake.” So it was all for me all along. It was all about me. “He flew back to Spain because I asked him to. I told him not meet you unless he hasn’t changed. I salute him because he did so. He was in touch with me all along. I was monitoring his progress. He even asked my permission if he can go back to the Philippines and rebuild your family. Of course I permitted him because I wanted you to be happy. I know Rain is making you happy but it was different when you are with Mikko.” “I feel guilty about Rain, Dad. It was like I used him as my rebound.” “You don’t have to worry about it, anak. Rain loves you so much to the point that he was willing to step aside for his friend. He promised Mikko that he’ll take care of you while he’s still in Spain. He knows everything too and is in touch with Mikko too. I admire both of them, Mikko and Rain. They were able to do those things because of love.” Am I that worth it? They made those sacrifices for me. They did a lot for me already while I haven’t really done anything for them. “We all love you, Gwen. Don’t let your insecurities bring you down. We love you for who you are. We love you because you are our own. We love you despite of all your impurities. All of us are flawed so are we to judge you?” People who does not know and understand the real situation tend to judge us hastily because they let their fickle mindedness prevail. But those people who understands the situation will never do that because they love us and accept us despite all our flaws.

XXVI. Eliah Brenn Michael Evangelista, Jr.
Right after talking to Dad about some pressing issues about my life, Rain came and clarified many issues concerning our relationship. On that same day, we parted ways, wishing each other well. There were no hard feelings involved since we now both know the real score between us. For the past months that we've been together, I have learned to love him more than a friend. Yes, I did but my father was right. It was far different from the times I had with Mikko--the earlier stages of our relationship though. I may be contradicting my own words before but this time I am sure. I love Mikko more than other guy in this world. I gave my thanks to Rain for taking care of me while Mikko was away. If I were him, I would have given up from the beginning. I could not dare to look after the one I love for the sake of another. Worse, for the sake of my rival. He is someone worthy to build a statue for. He is such a selfless man. I wish all the best for him. After all, he deserves it. The following day was pure bliss for us. Mom finally woke up from her three-day slumber. The first person she called was me. I immediately rushed to her side and hugged her tight. I bombarded her with my apologies to the point that she jokingly shoved me away becuase she was getting stressed up again.

Doctors told us that Mom was doing fine and in a span of one-week max, we could already bring her home. True enough, just two days ago, Mom was released from the hospital and was able to go back in our house in Makati City. Though we have to hire a private nurse to take care of Mom and to assist her as she tries to walk normally again. Things are going back to normal. Mom is recovering, Dad is working again. Rain is preparing for his upcoming board exam. He still comes by during his free time to play with Eliah. Eliah is keeping company to her grandmother since school's over. Everything is well again except for one thing. Mikko and I haven't resolved our issue regarding his arranged marriage with Krizza. “You okay?” asked Mikko while squeezing my hand tight. The truth is I am nervous but with his gesture, it somehow lessened the fidgety feeling. We are on our to Doña Althea’s house. Mikko’s Dad and Krizza had just arrived from Spain the other day and they all agreed to talk to Doña Althea about this issue. “I’m fine. I’m just a bit nervous. I don’t want another accident to happen, if you know what I mean.” Mikko gently snaked his arms around my waist and cuddled me tighter, closer to his body. Due to the proximity, I could hear the natural beating of his heart. Hearing his heartbeat regulated the rapid beating of mine. “I’m sure Dad can persuade Mom to cut off the agreement. Let’s leave this thing to adults and Krizza okay?” “I hope this turns out right.” “It will, love. Just keep the faith.” We met up with Krizza and Mikko’s dad at a café near the Evangelistas’ mansion in Quezon City. They were both there when we arrived. Though it’s my first time to meet Krizza, she welcomed me with a warm hug.

” Krizza smiled timidly. Mikko’s parents were both standing across each other. No one from the three of us—Krizza. darling. Oh the joys of being a mother. “To whom dol I owe this visit. but also for Krizza. He definitely has the privilege to come here anytime he wants. Gwen. who’s Jung-su?” “He’s my boyfriend.” Tito Mike cut our conversation and told us to go. her boyfriend and her baby. She’s actually pregnant! I rushed to her and hugged her tight. After all. and I—dared to speak out of fear. Two security guards watched over the five hundred square meter lot. He’s staying in Seoul right now. Fine marble consisted the flooring of their front porch. You can visit our house anytime you want.In the few minutes that we talked. . Gwen. “I hope we can get to know each other more. Mikko. We really need to talk to Doña Althea as soon as possible. “Don’t I have the right to come and visit my own home. “Thank you. Doña Althea stood there with might as we watched us ascend the steps of her precious porch. Mikko’s mom broke the deafening silence. my dear Mike? It’s been a while. ---x-x-x--- The Evangelistas’ abode on La Vista Subdivision in Quezon City speaks of elegance and luxury. his dad asked us to ride with him as we go to their house. She turned her back to us and went straight inside her comfort zone. She was leaning on the wooden door while one of her maids was fanning for her. I saw the almighty Doña Althea back off. I’ll be flying there in two months’ time.” I offered Krizza before hopping inside Tito Mike’s car. It’s not just for me and Mikko. It was like he was marking his territory.” “Wait. I can say that she’s a very nice person. Since Rain and I took a cab going here. With his Mom’s reaction to Tito Mike. I was too overjoyed that I actually forgot our real intention. After a few minutes or so. he was the one who worked hard to build this dwelling. It would be unfair for them if Doña Althea would push through with the wedding. Kai. One would not have awkward moments with her. giving one another a scornful gaze. her cheeks were as red as a rose in full bloom. For the first time. It’s no wonder she and Mikko got along and even became best of friends. We followed Tito Mike in and sat on the couch. Althea?” Tito Mike answered with supremacy. The metal gate automatically opened as soon as the bumper of Tito Mike’s car crossed over the sensor located a meter far from the gate.” greeted the Evangelista family’s matriarch sarcastically. I hope you wouldn’t mind if I visit your place often and keep on bugging you about pregnancy issues. I’m sure the old man can pull us out of this mess. Tension was starting to fill the room as the staring contest between the two older Evangelista ensued. “Of course I’d love to!” “Jung-su finally got it right! Congrats. I guess Mikko’s right. I squealed in delight as soon as the message registered in my mind.

” Mikko started shaking in his seat. Don’t take away their freedom to choose whoever they want to spend their life with!” Tito Mike’s words were calm but powerful. She was actually forcing herself not to cry. She’s ridiculing her own husband. I know Mom and Dad had already agreed to you about my marriage to Mikko. Not when I am carrying the child of someone whom I dearly love. He was crying. Tears fell down from my eyes as I gathered him in my arms. I noticed Krizza slowly standing up nad began saying. I felt like I was feared like Medusa. Mikko wasn’t able to catch a glimpse of her mother’s expression for he was still leaning on my shoulders. then go marry her parents!” I looked up and witnessed Doña Althea cry. he still did. He was searching for his mother’s attention all along. He rebelled against you but you never knew. Please. They’re big enough to decide for themselves. Confusion and denial was written all over her face. Mike? Are you saying this because I never allowed you to marry your mistress?” A mocking smile appeared on her face. Althea. Mike? Why did you bring that woman inside this house?” Of course. This is about Mikko’s life! You don’t know how affected he was with you taking over his life!” “Changing the topic aren’t you? Why don’t you tell your son how much of a bastard his father is? Why don’t you let your son know that you asked for an annulment just so you could live with your mistress?” “Then why don’t you tell your son that you begged me not to file that annulment because you were afraid to lose all this wealth? I gave in to your selfish whims and left Mikko’s full custody to you because I thought you’ll take care of my son. she still has her pride on top of her vocabulary. You might be his mother but you don’t have the right to interfere with his life like that. However. “I’ll go straight to the point. He was not shouting but one can feel the vigor in voice.” “W-what are you taking about. You used Mikko to secure your status. his jaw was clenched. I cannot let that happen. Give your son some breathing space! You’re suffocating him with your self-centered whims. Tita Althea. She took a couple of deep breaths and shook her head. Althea. Too bad. His fists were molded into a rigid ball. Tita. Althea. . crying his heart out. “I’m sorry. Though it was hard for him to do so. She threw me a sharp glance but when her gaze shifted towards Mikko. Of course. How dare she? She never really cared about anybody’s feelings but her own. I love Jung-su so much. She was avoiding my gaze though. You neglected your own son. She was obviously disappointed with what had just transpired. Let the children decide for their own. “Hah! Are you saying that out of experience.“What is your business here. She was even pointing her finger towards me. You know why? Because you are so full of yourself! All you think about was how to maintain your status. Althea! He obeyed you all his life but you never gave a second look at him. Mikko’s your sure pass so what you did was to command him. Tita. I know this will hurt your ego but please understand. but when the time came that he wanted you to look at him. She was sobbing quietly. Althea. Up until this moment. turning every person that meets my gaze into a rock. I do not like the fact that you took over your son’s life! You even brought innocent people in this mess! Let them be. Althea. Tita. That was the gravest mistake I’ve ever done. you ignored him. “He did the things that would make Gwen hate him because you wanted him to leave her. Not at this time. her eyes softened as if asking for forgiveness. He did all those misconducts because he thought you would finally care about him but you never did. she was pertaining to me. cancel the preparations for the wedding. You never did. If you badly want to tie up with Krizza’s family. “Don’t dig up the issues of the past. “Do you know why Mikko raped Gwen? Do you know why Mikko beat up Gwen every time he comes home from this house? Do you know why Mikko cheated on Gwen and slept with another woman? It was all because of you. Mike?” Doña Althea’s words trailed off. Althea. Love is much more important than a bruised ego. His mouth was shut tight. But I was so wrong. You are his mother so he followed you everytime. You even dragged Krizza into this chaos.” Doña Althea hastily wiped away the beads of water that were slowly gliding on her face. Tita. I don’t want us to break apart.

I. “Good morning. she walked away and headed for the grand staircase. He help Mikko stand up and guided his son out the house until we reached his car. It was as firm as if he was too frightened to see me vanish in thin air. This is the face of the man I love. Gwen. He’s been through so much. I answered back wholeheartedly with a smile. Good thing it was big enough for the two us. A warm smile freely materialized on my lips. and he shall do the same. We both went straight to my bedroom and slumped on my bed. “Don’t worry about Althea. I will know why God has purposely let us to be together. Mikko fell asleep on my lap. His weakness strength. We can be together now. We’ll be together `til infinity.” XXVII. No one will stop us anymore from being together. but it didn’t break us apart. I’m apologizing for her—for all the damages that she had done. I know she will eventually accept the things that had just happened. “Mikko. I brushed off the hairs that blocks my view of his forever love this man despite of all his flaws. What matters is I accepted him as he is and loved him because he is Mikko. . As we travel back home. I love you. I know this will work out. He did those things because he thought he could experience the love he had been longing for from his mother. We’ve been through a lot. I slowly opened my eyes and caught a glimpse of him—the man I love the most. she already vanished from my line of sight. gorgeous face. love. not of his own will. “It was worthy loving your son.” I just gave the old man a courteous nod and a sweet smile as I try to wake Mikko up. I lightly tossed the velvety covers of my bed that was keeping me warm during the night. He was the real victim. Thank you for keeping up with Mikko and loving him despite of everything. and his body systems went into a deep slumber. Thank you for still being by his side. In a few seconds. his eyes shut down.” “My son is so lucky to have you. I’m sorry. love. He patted his son’s back. It means a lot to a father like me.” Tito Mike smiled genuinely at me. Gwen. for how long I don’t know. Just give her time. I said my thanks and goodbye to Tito Mike before Mikko and I got down from his car. FIRST LOVE I was awakened by the gentle caress on my cheek and by the soft feel of warm lips on my forehead. but it doesn’t matter. I will pamper you with all the love you need. remained awake and full of energy. I love him with all of my heart and I don’t care whether he’s perfect or not. Everything is starting to be fine now. After all the hardships that we’ve been through. Tito Mike. He was a puppet of his mother. All along. assuring Mikko that everything is fine now. I don’t care anymore.” I whispered then moved closer to him.Doña Althea once again. yes. He was able to do those horrible things to me so I would end up hating him. So I could leave him because his mother does not approve of me. God all his flaws. Now I gave him to me as my other half because I will fill in will be my strength and my weakness shall be my I was not the only victim in this game. Forever will. Tito Mike closed the distance between us.” Right after giving her short speech. He reached for my hand and held it tight. Gwen. Mikko would be staying with us for the mean time. took a deep breath then declared. I kissed his forehead tenderly then whispered. on the other hand. Mikko must have been tired that the moment his body made contact with the bed. a mother’s love. we managed to stay strong together.” he said dearly. He was moving because of his mother’s will. “I’ll let you feel all the love that your mother had deprived you of. “Do whatever you like. I waved my goodbye to Krizza and promised to keep in touch.

really. Fine.” before continuing my greeting. Oh. “Go. I’m flattered. what do you want?” I sat straight then crossed my arms over my chest. He’s obviously fooling around. Gaah. You know me so well. I was just exaggerating a bit.” I pouted. cut the crap. “Makes me want to kiss you. What’s with this guy? Did he just come here to kid me? “Argh. He lifted my head then pulled me out of the comforting warmth of the blanket. I glanced at the alarm clock sitting on top of my bedside table—it was a quarter past four am. The next minute. “It’s Eliah’s birthday today. The past few days have been stressful and I have not fully coped up yet. rubbing my hurt cheek. he never changed. I love him. This must be important or else I’ll wring your neck. What have I done? “Pouting. He pushed me towards the door of the bathroom inside my room and said. “Alright. take a bath. one. “Hey. He must be here to ask something from me.” “C’mon. I raised my eyebrow and the right corner of my mouth. I really did forget that it’s our son’s birthday. what in the world is happening? . It was screaming the numbers four. you caught me.” Argh. What does he mean by that? “Just go okay? Leave the packing and everything to me. “I forgot!” I blurted out. it’s embarrassing.” I dug my journal under my pillows. and five. You’re cute kapag bagong gising. I made a quick glance at the alarm clock sitting on my bedside table. I know something’s up. What brought you here? It’s a quarter past four in the morning. he sought for my cheek and then pinched it tenderly.” With his free hand. It was freaking 4:15 am! “Aww. What kind of a mother am I? Forgetting her son’s birthday? Tsk. seriously!” I’m not mad. he was fooling me. Just like the same old Mikko. goodness gracious.” Just a while ago. that hurts!” I complained. I quickly turned to the page where the bookmark was left. I’ll pack your things for you. To finish the I-knowsomething’s-up look. Nevertheless. “Sorry. I buried my face in Mikko’s shoulders.“Good. I can’t help it. I’m just acting up.” I turned to him and raised my eyebrow. love. stop doing that!” “Doing what?” I was clueless. Oh. he was flirting with me.” he said while pointing to my lips.“ morning too.

Knowing you. No wonder Eliah’s this excited to see them. the plane finally reached our destination. He didn’t say anything. Mikko was feeding Eliah stories about those nocturnal species during the whole plane ride. Mom.” . When the van arrived. They were sitting on a bench near the exit gate while waiting. “Aww. “Can we go now. punching him lightly on his arm. Daddy. Gwen. Dad. I looked down and saw Eliah smiling from ear to ear. Eliah squealed and scurried towards the vehicle. Mikko took the honor and lifted his son. sticking his tongue out. mom’s private nurse. Happy birthday to you. ---x-x-x--“Happy birthday to you. He just stared at me for some seconds. I only knew about it when we were about to board the plane going to Tagbilaran City. By eleven. Once we’re done. Mikko conspired with everyone in the house to not tell Eliah and me about our supposed trip to Bohol. Mikko had already hired a driver-slash-tourist guide for us. “It’s a surprise.” Eliah hugged Mikko and gave him a kiss on the cheeks. He’s really excited to see those tarsiers. you’ll blurt it out as soon as I’ve told you about it. Our foreheads touched. And it worked. we went straight to the airport’s arrival area and waited for the hotel’s service van. I was about to move away when I felt somebody was tugging the hem of my dress. baby. Happy birthday to you. I was about to turn away from him but he immediately caught my arm. “Happy birthday.” we sang in chorus as the birthday boy enthusiastically claps his hand waiting for us to finish our song.” he said. Happy birthday. Surprises are supposed to be kept as secrets. He raised his arms. were busy taking pictures around. Mikko and Eliah. we decided to take the countryside tour. on the other hand.” I said. He is always like this—taking advantage of my temper. Chammie and Luisa. “You are so mean. the driver had already arrived and drove us to our first destination.” “Thank you. It wouldn’t be a surprise anymore if it’s spilled already. Since we arrived in Tagbilaran around ten in the morning. “Pikon. my baby boy’s excited so let’s go!” After waiting for our luggage. were with us too. Daddy? I want to see the tarsiers already! Please. happy birthday. motioning us to carry him. “What?” I finally broke the silence going on between us.--x-x-x-After about an hour of flying in the air. Eliah.” I frowned. his mouth formed an ‘O’ then rapidly blew the four blue candles on his chocolate cake. What a vain father and son.” He smirked. As it turns out. He cupped my face then brushed away the strands of hair that were covering my face. “You’re one sneaky little boy. Daddy?” “Alright. you haven’t wished yet.

” Eliah stated with conviction. I almost lost my mother.” There was a tinge of sadness and guilt in his voice. I met another guy. My heart was beating rapidly as if a thousand horses were competing in a race. I was reminiscing about four years ago. I am surprised with his answer.” Chammie took Eliah from me to assist Eliah while he eats. He stood up and brushed the sand that got stuck on his pants. honey. I. “What about it?” “Wala naman. The proximity was sending shivers down to my spine. I realized how love could be so powerful. “Hey.” I said. I lost my second child. Thank You. The gentle blow of the waves against the fine white sand was music to ears. Papa Jesus already gave me the best birthday present ever. I was touched with my son’s words. I dumped the perfect guy for the bad guy.” I mumbled. And I am happy that we are able to give him what he really wanted. I could not ask for more. My tears were on the brink of falling. right?” He did not wait for me to answer his question. Mommy. My feet led me to the shore of the crystal clear Bohol beach. Then. everything was rooted at his faults but those mistakes were triggered by something bigger. for granting my son’s wish. A family. in a span of four years. “Can we eat now. He’s too young yet he understands. went out to have a feel of Bohol’s warm breeze. I was raped. Imagine. I tried hard to resist the urge to let all the drops of tears fall. Lord.” My baby boy stood up on his chair then wrapped his tiny arms around my neck. Yes. I lay down to see a better picture of the heavens. I glanced back to confirm my hunch. I left you. “Emo moments?” The familiar voice made me rise from my pseudo bed. how love could change the course of our lives. I realized na madrama pala ang buhay ko. I looked back and soothed his crumpled face. he looked at me lovingly and offered his hand to me. Party music from the nearby crowd was loud but it did not affect the serenity that the place was giving me. Mommy? I want spaghetti!” “Sure thing. I was cheated on. I had a chance to ponder on the things that has happened to me for the past four years.” “What are you thinking?” “The past. on the other hand. playling with the buttons on my long-sleeved polo. “Just thinking about some stuff. I never thougt that I am still capable of feeling this way—giddy and gay— considering that I am turning twenty in three months. I accepted his hand. I could feel butterfly wings fluttering inside my stomach. Without a doubt. “May I ask what is that?” “One big happy family. I was beaten. “I haven’t asked for forgiveness. He .” “And it was all because of me. Truth be told. I got my family back. I had a child.“It’s okay. I was branded as a slüt. He sat behind me and wrapped his arms around me.

If I do. With his free hand. I kept asking myself. you’re here with me. Guilt. I cupped his face and made our foreheads touch. love. you can wring my neck anytime. We continued dancing though the only music we could . Insecurities over Rain ate me whole. I cannot imagine spending the rest of my life without you in the picture. he took his phone from the pocket of his pants and started pressing the keys. These past few days. This time. The way he holds me right now was different from the way he does before. for the love that he never experienced from his mom. You are always gonna be my love Itsuka dare kato mata koi ni ochitemo I'll remember to love You taught me how You are always gonna be the one Imawa mada kanashii love song Atarashi uta utaeru made We danced with the sea singing the song for us. You still love me despite of all the troubles that I’ve caused. We may have faced a lot of trials but it just made us stronger. And now. guilt. for being the reason of this mess. We kissed with the moon and the stars as our witness.” His eyes speak of sadness. Tachidomaru jikan ga Ugoki dasou to shiteru Wasuretakunai koto bakari Ashita no imagoro ni wa Watashi wa kitto naiteru Anata wo omotte 'run darou' “I am so sorry for everything I’ve done. Gwen.” You will always be inside my heart Itsumo anata dake no basho ga aru kara I hope that I have a place in your heart too Now and forever you are still the one Imawa mada kanashii love song Atarashii uta utaeru made You are always gonna be my love Itsuka dare kato mata koi ni ochitemo I'll remember to love You taught me how You are always gonna be the one Mada kanashii love song yeah Now & forever ah. I won’t hurt you again. a bittersweet love song filled the air. ‘What have I done for her to love me this much?’ I am thankful to have you and to hold you this close. I am lucky to be loved by you. You effortlessly captured my heart with your enchantment ever since the first day we met.” “You don’t know how happy I am after hearing you say that. So don’t ever doubt my love for you. Sadness. considering the gruesome things I did to you. This time. I can't even spell the word forever without you. Thank you. You made me believe and trust in love. I thought I’ll never be with you again. I badly wanted to prove myself to my mother. I’ll be better. I did the worst just to please her. Longing. he was handling me with care as if I were a sculpture worth millions. I thought you’d choose him over me. I wanted you to hate me because I was becoming a jerk. Gwen. I love you. You chose me. I caused you pain.” The song ended but we remained in our position. It has been you all along. You uplift my weary soul. I really won’t mess up this time. We cuddled as the cold wind blew. I promise.. But I guess luck is on my side.rested my arms on his shoulders. You suffered because I was so blinded by my goal to prove myself to the mother who was never one to me. “I love you. I felt protected. Saigono kissu wa Tabako no flavor gashita Nigakute setsunai kaori Ashita no imagoro ni wa Anata wa doko ni irun darou' Dare wo omotte 'run darou' The moment he circled his arms around my waist. I did those because I wanted you to leave me. “But I guess I am one lucky man. and longing. Let’s start over.. Gwen. After a while. I love you. Gwen. for all the bad things that has happened. love.

And I would not trade this feeling for the whole world. the black sedan. Maybe because he’s still trying to cope up even though he told me he was fine. I really have no idea where he is right now. The man was talking to someone on the phone and was walking his way towards my direction. waiting for a free cab to drive me home. It means a lot coming from you. “Look across. As if in slow motion. I answered Rain’s call. The moment our lips met. Somehow. he gently planted soft kisses on my forehead. The kiss we are sharing right now could not be explained by a simple word. I moved a little so I could see his face—handsome and perfect. His kiss gave me an idea of heaven here on earth. XXVIII. His whereabouts. Mister.” I did what he told me. long time no talk. He was only keeping in touch with Mikko and he doesn’t even leave a single message for me. It was as if I am being kissed for the first time again. . I have no idea. SURPRISES I was outside one of the school’s main building. my nose. we forgot the world and minded our own. Rain. stroking my cheek gently. Gwen.” “Where are you anyway?” I asked. my hand seemed to have a mind of its own. Gwen.” There was a long pause before he spoke again. a man descended from the car.” “You are always the honest one. talking to him casually is awkward. he looked at me intently before his lips landed on mine. His eyes speaks of unrelenting love and passion. “I miss you.” “Thank you. “I know it’s awkward but I’m just being honest. Quote Rain Gonzales 091750041** Calling Immediately. He had been so busy from his board exam last month. Then. Most of the cabs were occupied since it was dismissal time. “Hey. A black BMW was parked perpendicular to where I am standing. I was about to hail a cab when my mobile phone rang. we shared some intimate moments in the five months we spent together as a couple. my eyelids. tiny fireworks exploded inside my system. For a moment. For a while.” I greeted him as soon as I tapped the answer button on my phone. Once again. I looked up and saw him looking at me fervently. He copied my move. My hands dived inside my bag to search for my phone. I haven’t heard from him in a while. It voluntarily caressed his cheek. and my cheek.hear was the song of the sea. After all.

hugging me back as tight as my hug for him. Maybe. "Buckle up. He even opened the passenger's side's door. I don't care if many people would see us like this. There's more to her as her face suggests. he would not look as vibrant and handsome as he is right now. Gwen. What a gentleman he is. during those moments. he found the girl that would really be for his taking. we're in this sort of 'it's complicated' thing. There's no need to rush things. Rain. "What's with the look." Looking at him. I don't want him to be locked up with his feelings for me. a wide smile was plastered on his face."You remembered. I rushed up to him and hugged him tight. His aura was exuding brightness. Thank you. "Happy birthday. Gwen?" I was looking at him with a big stupid grin on my face kasi. the sweetest as possible. Good for you.” I meant what I said. I could say something has changed in him. he looks like he's. It cannot be denied that he is happy and contented now. Looking at him now.. in love. “Kung hindi ko lang alam na in love ka sa best friend ko. alright. “When will I meet her?” . Oh my God. you were actually.” "Rain!" Still in awe. he is truly the one who deserves to be loved. Err." So there really is a special girl in his heart now. Right now.My jaw literally dropped when the man from the car stopped in front of me. Her eyes were commanding me to get to know her more. So tell me. I smiled. If not. I know he usually is but it was overflowing this time. I'm just happy. the days he spent alone gave him enough time to cope up with reality and to accept the things that we can never change. the time that we were away from each other has been good on him. He was vibrant." "How could I forget you? You are the world to me. Gwen. it was Rain! I was not able to move a muscle when he flashed that familiar lopsided grin. who's the lucky girl?" He grabbed me by the hand and pulled me towards his car. Rain. We have the whole world ahead of us. iisipin kong patay na patay ka sa’kin. I am so happy for him. I'll tell you about her on our way to your house. --- "She's not the prettiest woman I've ever seen but there's something in her that makes me look back at her. Maybe." he said. I want. "Nothing. “You seem happy. I moved away a bit and looked at him in the eye. And maybe. even brighter than during the times we were together. rather we both want to take things slow. but hey." All the while Rain was narrating these things about his girl. I missed this guy.. Of all people. Then. And so I did.

cutting my words. My friends from elementary. high school. “Nesh.” she commented. have you seen—” “I think you should change your dress. is it me or is it just a hallucination? . Rain walked past me and welcomed the girl with a hug. I glanced at Rain with a questioning look but he just shrugged. but actually. My close relatives also attended the said event. She might not be the most beautiful girl in the world. Alyssa. While talking to her. twinkling and giving off light. “Gwen. I just sat there. The moment she put down the brushes. were not there. I obeyed her instructions. Many cars were parked along the street of our place. we get along. And I am sure that she and Rain will last long. but again. my ex-girlfriend and my best friend. I just went with the follow. the comb. Neshian finally settled with a black and beige combination. It was like a magnet. and the hairdryer she used. Though confused. watching through the mirror how she rummaged my clothes. attracting you to come up to her and get to know her better. She made me sit in front of my vanity mirror. I guess she is his special girl. my girl.” Alyssa greeted eagerly. But the most important persons in my life. Neshian carried out her magic on me again. She extended her hands to me for a handshake. he just shrugged.He looked at me with excitement. I discovered that we have many traits in common. Again. Mikko and Eliah. The reflection on the mirror. I shot another inquiring look at Rain. She pushed me inside my bathroom and asked me to change into the dress that she chose for me.“Now. “Is this what I get for drinking three shots of tequila?” My forehead creased out of disbelief.” Rain was right. this is Alyssa. We were about to enter the gate when I saw a beautiful woman standing by the metal gate. “Hi. The house was bright with lights and party music was playing loudly. She waved in our direction and started walking towards us. Rain and Alyssa.” The car pulled into a halt a few blocks from house. It must be the reason why Rain was shot by cupid. the party music were all part of the surprise birthday party that my friends with Neshian as the mastermind had given me. I accepted it then hugged her afterwards. and college were there. My parents were there. We got down his car and walked our way towards our residence. this is Gwen. I wish both of them well. It may seem awkward for the ex-girlfriend and current girlfriend to be together. though confused. His eyes were like stars. I was stuck on admiration. but her sweet smile and her chocolate brown eyes will enchant you. and even Rain’s parents were present too. if not forever. --The bright lights. the line of cars parked along our street. I followed her towards my room. The woman I am seeing now in the mirror was different from the Gwen I used to know. After a while.

It was Rain. the journey is not important but the destination is what matters most. “Careful. Nesh told me that for this day. My heart began pounding deafeningly as the seconds pass by. I convinced myself to focus on the surrounding. my eyes had adjusted with the light. I tried calling out Neshian's name. “Relax. Moments later. there was no ramp in this field. No doubt about that. But those things would be answered later. Like your love for my best friend Mikko.” What in the world will we do in UP Sunken Garden at this time of the night? --I felt the car stop. “I know you’re surprised to see me here. isn’t it? “I have accepted my defeat from the day I agreed to take care of you while Mikko was away. The only . Seriously. and more soil. let’s go!” Neshian cheered then snatched my arm and escorted me out of the room.” “Oh. I sensed a huge bulk behind me. She guided me as we walk down the ramp.” she uttered while helping me get out of the car. I have no idea what is happening since Neshian had blindfolded me the instant that Mang Johnny had hit the gas. I know. Eliah became the eyes I was deprived of at the moment. what is the catch with the people today? They have been dragging me to here and there since Rain fetched me from school. hoping that she was just playing a prank on me. Mang Johnny. okay. hinting of flowers. too. as I cannot sense any person within my reach. I wanted to fight for you but there are things that cannot be changed. “Nesh?” I voiced out as her hand vanished from my grasp. I continued the process until every bit of distraction has been wiped way. A glint of hope rushed through my veins when a warm hand touched mine. My knees were wobbling. The person was untying the blindfold. I am receiving too many surprises for my birthday. okay?” I nodded in response. I’m sorry baby. We must be in UP already. The last time I remember. Gwen. Now. Once again.” I zipped my mouth then I heard Eliah giggle. small and chubby ones held onto my hand. grass. A fresh and sweet scent filled the vicinity. Of course. He was holding a bouquet of red roses on his right hand while a lit candle on the left. Instead of letting paranoia kick in.” She turned to her driver and said. I inhaled deeply. My vision was welcomed by a bunch of red roses and a candlelight. “Where are we going?” I asked Neshain as we occupied the back seat of her car. The ground only has tree roots. “UP Sunken Garden. Just listen to me first. soil.“You really are beautiful. He cautiously directed me to a certain place in the field. But instead of Neshian's big and slender fingers. “Eliah?” “Shh. we’re not supposed to talk Mommy. that many questions are entering your mind right now.

I love her as she is and I am happy to be with her. I closed the distance between us and hugged him tight. dear. He had sacrificed a lot for the sake of his friend. A silent wish escaped from my mouth. Rain.” My mother’s words confused me. You will always be Mommy’s greatest gift from God. I was so moved by Rain’s words.” Drops of tears escaped from my eyes. They did not utter a single word. honey. tulips. You will always be my best friend. “Sometimes. Hey. You deserve someone like her. But it’s all in the past now. “I love you. Instead. anak. giving joy to her Mom and Dad. Gwen. my parents welcomed me with another bunch of flowers and a lit candle. The whole time the video was playing. and together. This time. I really. really hope that Alyssa would be the one for him. we’re letting you go. “Thank you. Dad. they just smiled and led me towards a big white screen. Though it is hard on Mommy and Daddy’s part. She’s my life. my world. I love you. We know you’ll be in good hands. right? I hope you find happiness with your new girlfriend. Gwen. too.” “Good for you. he was wearing a bright and wide smile on his face. Remember that okay? We love you so much. He was walking towards our direction.” He freed himself from my hug and tied the blindfold over my eyes again. Watching my old self made me miss those times that the only problem I had was to pick a color for my coloring book. Some people may think she is just a rebound girl. was holding a bunch of flowers—this time. It may have not lasted long but rest assured that I’ll treasure everything. Happy birthday. When the whole video was done. the blindfold was once again untied. Mom. you will always be our little princess. I was bawling my eyes out. Gwen. I hope you two will spend the rest of your lives forever. Looking back at the past is really a touching activity for me. best friend. my universe now. Don’t ever let her go. He deserves all the happiness in the world. His gaze was fixed on me. his brother. we watched an AVP. I know she loves you so much.” said Dad as if his words were a caress. not minding the flowers and the candle he was holding. too. Mom and Dad loves you. I wish I was a child again so I would be everybody’s princess.” “Thank you. the first thing I did was to hug my mom and dad. but she isn’t. I’m sorry for breaking your heart and leaving you for Mikko.consolation I had was the time you said ‘yes’ to me. He had been so selfless for the past four years. he. Letting me go? But why? What is this all about? My train of thought was put on hold when I saw Mikko emerged from a white cloth that was separating the whole field into two. “I won’t.’ After a while. how I miss those times. Like the others. Oh. I gotta escort you to your next post. You’re grown up now but you’ll always be Mommy’s little girl. You’ve been a very good friend to me. God. . I felt like a child when my mom had to wipe away the tears that were streaming down my face. my favorite—and a lit candle. Rain. Gwen. Gwen.” “Shh. Slowly.” “Hush now. we walked over to my ‘next post. okay?” I said in between sobs.

I love you. love?” I looked back at Mikko with my tears streaming down my face. everything that’s transpiring right now is the reality. “Take care of my daughter.” “How does the sound of ‘spending the rest of your life with me’ appeal to you?” “It’s one risk that I am willing to take. He’s asking me to marry him. I do. Love her as much as we love her. He planted a gentle kiss on the back of my hands—a gesture I always find sweet. He captured my hands and brought them to his lips. Can I ask you one question. the memory of your sixteenth birthday was horrible. You are a dream come true for me. jaw-dropping confession. You can count on me. too. Gwen. We walked a little before he untied the cloth that was covering my eyes. He cupped my face then looked at me intently. sir. “Will you marry me. But this time. I can’t believe it. Together. I want to make your twentieth birthday. It took me a while to adjust my vision. I’ll take care of our princess. his hands took over the place where the blindfold was.“Can I have a moment with my lady?” My parents took the privilege to answer for me.” “Yes.” Mikko took my hand and held it tightly. I never thought that we’d go this far. he took his hand off from my eyes.” “I’m so happy to have you here with me. he stood behind me and tied the blindfold once again. Though he untied the blindfold already. It spelled out the words. I want us .” “I’d never want to wake up if everything that’s happening now is just a dream. “I love you. “Four years ago.” “Don’t worry.” He did not respond to what I have said. Shadows of glimmering light reflected through the thin white covering. I want to erase that negative thought in your head. Candles were laid out all over the other half of the field. though?” “Sure. Slowly. His eyes were shimmering with joy and excitement while mine was revealing confusion and nervousness. my God!” Those were the only words that left my mouth after seeing that breath taking. Mikko. Gwen. Mikko. gruesome and whatever negative adjective you might think of. you know that right?” “Of course. we went to where he came from a while ago. Treat her like a precious crystal that you are afraid to lose. “Oh. go ahead. the day you’ll never forget. I want to make everything right. Instead.

our family would be complete. May 22. I resisted but he was too strong compared to my fragile body. It was the right thing to do. . From this day on. my Mom spent five grueling hours of pain and fear on this day. I believe in him as much as he believes in me. And I want to share all my love with you. And today marked the day when I promised him that I’ll spend the rest of my life with him. I chose to celebrate my 16th birthday with the one I love. 2014 XXIX. July 14. I tried to leave him but he's a drug I can't resist. Today. Mikko. July 14. Every stride leads me nearer to the paradise that we will build and expand together. As I march from behind the doors of the cathedral. I have committed a million mistakes in my whole life. At a young age. living under one roof—happy and contented. But actions speak louder than words right? I closed the distance between us and sealed everything with a kiss. we could finally get a chance at happiness. love. Oftentimes. We will brave all the storms that will come our way. Today. A promise that I am sure I will never break. My first love. The only thing that’s right. I don’t know what to say. On that day twenty years ago. closer to the promise of forever that he has to offer. I love him and I cannot imagine spending the rest of my life without him. No one else will do. I have been through a lot of trials and hardships in life. You’re every step I make. From this day forward. That little girl was I. you’re every breath that I take. I let my emotions control me and take over my reasoning. On that day four years ago. Will you spend the rest of your lifetime with me?” he declared while offering me a diamond ring. loving him even more. I know we can do this together. what is mine is his. I am still with my boyfriend. there awaits the man who will show me the meaning of forever and eternal love. Most of it was because of impulsive decisions and hasty judgment. A martyr. PROMISE OF FOREVER My love there’s only you in my life. --July 14. She exerted so much effort to provide a life for a little seedling growing inside of her. The one I loved forced me to let him have a feel of my body. Twenty years ago. Everything was going well until that dark memory of the past happened. I just turned twenty years old. every breath and every step that I am going to make will lead me closer to him. The little girl was named Guinevierre Grace Samaniego. Though I have been tested over and over again. After all the storms that we have encountered. Four years ago. Let’s rebuild our relationship as husband and wife. I know. It was as if my voice was robbed off from me. I will shower him even more with love and care—the love and care that he never experienced from his own mother. From this instant. the best decision I have made in my entire life was when I agreed to spend the rest of my life with him. I remained strong for those sufferings taught me how to stand up again. And for some reasons. we will share the times of joy and sorrow together with none of us backing down. a healthy seven pound baby girl was born. I was raped by my very own boyfriend. At last. as husband and wife. and what is his is mine. But if you ask start over.

Oh yes.” my father commanded as we reached the first pew where Mikko. white tulips. that’s for sure. your eyes. Please don’t do anything that could hurt her. In Eliah Brenn Michael Evangelista Jr. this would have not happened. He really needs you. It was as if our eyes were glued to one another. I found the eternal paradise of overflowing passion and unconditional love. I know he would not do it. Gwen. I was smiling the whole time I was walking closer to him. “Please widen your patience for Mikko. I’ll take care of him. “Take good care of our dearest princess. son. In his deep-set eyes.’s eyes. In his eyes. Mikko. adding wonders to the elegant marble structure.’ For me it was a sign that my parents accepted Mikko as my husband. my parents and Mikko’s dad hugged both of us and welcomed us into the family. Rain. “Call me Dad. we would have not made this far. I looked at him straight in the eye. When a soft and sweet music filled the air. approached us. I know he loves me very much. My father clutched my arm gently. his eyes were twinkling in delight. Mikko. your eyes. Happiness was manifested on his face and so was on mom’s. “I will. don’t hesitate to call us for help. If problem arises. I found forever. Most of the pews were occupied by the primary and secondary sponsors and guests—all dressed in formal attires with a touch of white and gold. I’ll give her back if she gets irritating. He was wearing a big and bright smile on his face. Though she had been sobbing since we arrived at the cathedral. If not for His guidance.” “No need to worry. Papa. Large chandeliers. I beamed then uttered a simple prayer of thanksgiving. Though she was crying. In his words.” Beads of water clouded my vision. I could feel the love that he had just promised. you will always be my endless love. I entrust her to you. “Thanks. Understand him as if he is a little boy lost in the woods. alongside his best man. I glanced at him.And your eyes. Don’t worry. Mikko asked for my parents’ blessings then he hugged them afterwards. “Don’t you ever cheat on my only girl. He sure is lucky to find someone as selfless as you. and white calla lilies lined the path towards the altar. . He gave me a tight embrace as a sign of welcoming me to his family. I know for sure that those were tears of joy. I believe in you.” “Thank you… Dad.” For the last time. it was our cue to begin walking down the aisle. Don’t ever break my trust or else I’ll skin you alive!” said Mom in between sobs. Gwen. I love her so much. M-Mom. There I found the love that I was looking for. I looked up at the crucified image of our Lord. Mikko’s father. The cathedral doors swung open and revealed its timeless interiors. If not for His divine Will. I’m your father too. From now on. Continue loving him.” Mikko declared with so much conviction in his voice. son. Tito Mike. As we walk towards the altar. My gaze was locked on the man waiting for me at the altar. she still managed to crack a joke. For the last time as Guinevierre Grace Samaniego. It was touching to hear Mikko call my father ‘Dad. Love our baby Gwen. Mikko.” Mikko chuckled a bit then winked at my direction. Tito. they tell me how much you care. Mikko took my hand and held it tight. he smiled sweetly at me then he tucked the loose strands of hair behind my ears. Light traversed through the stained glass windows. You know how hard life had been for him. I punched him jokingly on his arm as my response for his joke. my partner in life. was standing. I found the attention that I am wishing for.

in times of progression and in times of deterioration until God Himself sets us apart. do you take Mikko here present to be your lawful husband according to the rite of our Holy Mother. He squeezed my hands as if reassuring me that he will never leave me hanging and that he loves me with all his heart.” “Do you give yourself to him as his wife?” “Yes. Father. Father. . Thank you for being what you are to me. I am the happiest woman in the whole world today. It would be a great honor to be with him for the rest of my life. I would be with Mikko in times of sorrow and in times of joy. I would be with him. I'll hold you close in my arms I can't resist your charms “Gwen. with all my heart. in sickness and in health.” While he was expressing those thoughts. I will forever cherish this day—the day I officially became the wife of the man I love the most.” Gently. He was staring at me as if he was memorizing every line and every feature. two hearts that beat as one Our lives have just begun “Gwen. Long ago you were just a dream and a prayer. for richer or for poorer. until death do us part. we should take our time.” “Now please say together. “Mikko. Forever. With our future as bright as the promises of God. He heaved out a deep sigh before he finally answered. one heart. I do. honor and protect you. For a while. Instead.Two hearts. and Mrs. the Church?” I looked at our clasped hands before answering. I prayed that God would lead me to his choice. in times of weariness and in times of liveliness. he placed on my left ring finger the symbol of our unending love. the Church?” Mikko did not answer right away. my love. I do. but it is all coming true. Evangelista have just begun. my friend and my love. Today is a very special day. I thank Jesus for the honor of going through time with you. “Mikko.” Just like what I had promised earlier.” I can’t help myself to cry as I state my vow. I know he will be with me too because I trust his promise to our Lord. “Yes. Today I give to you me. This day like a dream come true the Lord Himself has answered that prayer. I love you. “I do. that together we may grow in the likeness of Christ and our home be a praise to Him. One body. you as my joy become my crown. I lay down my life for you. I used to dream about this moment. to be one heart and one soul from this day forward for better or for worse. Gwen. to follow you through all of life's experiences as you follow God. Gwen. he looked into my eyes for about minute. We have the world in our own hands. Right. O Lord. I praise Him that tonight His will is being fulfilled. one soul. These are not tears of sadness but tears of joy. do you take Gwen here present to be your lawful wife according to the rite of our Holy Mother. I love you. Father.” “Grant us. “Do you give yourself to her as her husband?” “Yes. he was looking intently at me with a gorgeous smile on his lips. I thought he would back out for the last minute but it seems that he was just savoring the moments. I do with all my heart and soul. Father. Our lives as Mr. I will care for you. For today. every step of the way.” I was his from the every beginning. Through the pressures of the present and uncertainties of the future I promise my faithfulness.

too. bolero!” He chuckled again then took me in his arms. I've found in you my endless love “I love you. I thought he was sincere when he said that. At that moment. for loving me still. I never wanted to let go. you'll be the only one 'cause no one can deny this love I have inside And I'll give it all to you. oh. I was actually mesmerized by your beauty a while ago that’s why it took me a few seconds before I finally answered.” “Your existence is the sole reason for my own existence.” “I love you too. I know. Every word I uttered was full of promises that intend to keep. my love. Judging by his face.Every word that came out from my mouth was filled with love. On this day. we shared to you one special moment in our lives. I know. you know I don't mind. void of any emotion. I felt him plant a soft kiss on my head. (I'm sure. And love. You are the eternity for me. “Eh?” He burst out laughing then pinched my nose lightly. Mikko embraced me tightly as if he never wants to let go.” He leaned down and kissed me passionately.” And. 2014. his act was really convincing. not minding all the people who’s watching.” “You are the world to me. Always and forever. leaning on his chest. Oh. yes. our supposed sixth anniversary as a couple. And when he presented us to the public as husband and wife. Gwen. I'll be a fool for you. Mrs. I would forever choose to be enveloped in sturdy arms for it gives me that warm and secured feeling—the feeling of being loved. 'Cause you. love. Thank you for choosing me. my love. “I love you. love. Mikko scooped me by the waist and made our foreheads touch. “You may now kiss the bride. On this day. And I would never trade that feeling for anything in this world. I closed my eyes and listened to his heartbeat.” “Hmpf. Ikaw lang. enlighten me please?” “I was hesitating. The minister continued the ceremony. we promised to one another to spend our lives forever. together. Thank you for loving me. in front of our Lord. we made a solemn pact to build a family of our own and to never break apart. . Mikko. May 22. I snuggled closer to him. That was when I realized that he was just fooling me. you know I don't mind) “Do you know why I paused for a while before I said ‘I do?’” inquired Mikko as we were on our way to the reception venue. “Gotcha! I was just joking. my endless love On this day. you mean the world to me Oh.” His face was serious.” In one swift motion. my love. Mikko Evangelista. “No.

they really are close to one another.” “Are you giving him some sort of growing pills?” The couple laughed at my joke. he’s currently five feet three inches. Eliah who is now fifteen years old. He gave me a big. Alyssa was three months pregnant with their second child. But this is not the end. okay?” “Yehey! Thanks.” “Thanks. You see. One thing I like the most about Ana and Eliah is that despite their age difference. They never hesitate to show me how much they love me. I love you despite of your flaws. The news came as a shock to them because they were sort of the conservative ones. “Yeah. Receiving a kiss and hug from them erases all my worries away. The three of us was in that position when Ana’s godmother and Eliah’s godfather came. “Mommy! Mommy.” EPILOGUE .” I commented. It seems that Eliah was sort of jealous so he sat beside me and hugged me from the side. Guinevierre Grace Samaniego-Evangelista. Every one of us was happy to hear that news. I love you as who you are. He’s been feeding all kinds of food to Axl these days. playing with his wife’s fingers. Ana. Rain announced to us that Alyssa has been conceiving their first child. I planted a soft kiss on her forehead as a response. everyone except for Alyssa’s parents. Three months after Rain introduced Alyssa to me. The two got married four months after Axl was born. They have been praying so hard for this baby since Alyssa was having a hard time conceiving. Axl. I slumped back at the pool chair then continued reading Paolo Coelho’s Eleven Minutes. “I love you even more. The beginning of our lives as husband and wife. Alyssa and Rain arrived together with their eleven-year-old boy. for sympathizing with us. My little girl was learning fast for she was able to cross half of the pool already. This is what I love about my kids. “Hi Ninang Gwen!” greeted Axl as soon as he approached me. “I love you. look at me!” cried my baby girl. She was in the middle of the pool with her elder brother. Rain charmed his way to Alyssa’s parents’ hearts. Mr. Rain and Alyssa were sitting side by side on the pool chair adjacent to mine. baby! Don’t swim on the deep part. I have never heard them fight or shout at each other. Ana! You’ll be one heck of a swimmer someday. I stopped reading to watch how my little girl has progressed. Alyssa leaned back at the chair’s backrest while Rain was sitting on her side. it’s a good thing that I trained them to be like this. Despite of our sullied past.” “Careful. But later on. Kuya!” Ana hugged her brother as soon they got out of the water. fat kiss on the cheek before he went off with my two kids. Well.” “Your Dad and I will talk about it once he comes home from Spain.” I hugged him and kissed him on the lips. I accepted you as who you are. “Mom.Thank you for being with us. okay?” I shouted as my seven-year-old little girl jumped off the pool. That’s for sure. Eliah was teaching Ana on how to do the back float. “Axl is growing so fast. Mom!” Ana sat on my lap then hugged me tight. Eliah Brenn Michael Evangelista Jr. And I will forever love you despite your dirty past. you should enroll Ana in a swimming class. they even got married ahead of us. I’m sure she’ll love it. Both of them were wishing that it would be a girl this time. “Good job. It is just the beginning. Imagine his humongous height at the age of eleven. “Blame Rain.

it’s not your Ninang’s birthday. honey. a mom to her kids. For sure.” “Oh. Rain and Alyssa on the cheek. isn’t it? We were eating lunch inside when all the house helpers ran outside. He’s back. For now. All of us are in our early thirties now. Alyssa and I look up to her. These two really get along well.“Hah! He should be like his father. A familiar manly scent filled my nose. We do not know how she manages to be a nurse and at the same time. love. We are all actually grown ups now. Like father. And I am happy. Kriz. and other grown up stuff. I feel for her.” “Yeah. work. Ana. I know this person. today. The teens were dragging their Mom inside our house. Ren and Rae kissed me.” “I hope they grow up fast!” “But I’m sure you’ll miss them once they’re adults already. “C'mon Mom! Ninang Gwen is waiting for us! You don’t want to be late for her birthday!” “Rae. Time flies so fast. she just wants us to eat lunch with her today. like son. sturdy arms enveloped me into a hug. Though alone. Our house helper was fast enough to open the gate. Warm. she is raising Ren and Rae alone. The four of us chatted about parenting. Both of them are funny in their own ways. surprise. Krizza positioned behind me to cover my eyes with a large handkerchief. guided me to stand up and walk. My kids are getting even more mischievous everyday. I spotted my daughter. he told me that he would be back by next week. you’re right. . She. She is actually a wonder mom. “ We feel you. When he called me two days ago. After that. which school should our children study. together with Alyssa. Ten years ago. “My twins are becoming naughtier each day. kneeling in front of the shards of glass scattered on the floor. they ran inside the house to search for the three other kiddos. I hugged him tight as my response. Krizza still does not know the exact year when Jung-su will be home. The three of us are having a nice chat when somebody pressed on the doorbell.” “Eh? Then what’s the celebration today?” “Nothing.” Jung-su was drafted to serve the Korean army.” complained Krizza. I know him for sure. Now. this is another surprise. We were near the dining room’s entryway when we heard a loud thump from the second floor. surprise. I’ll just wish Jung-su’s home already. Mikko had to stay in Spain for a month to help Papa in our family business. I dashed to where the fall came from to see what was broken. Alyssa just laughed it off. well. She emphasized her complaints by washing her face with her hands. You are not alone. we were just talking about school stuff and other childish topics. “Mikko!” “Hello. Two similar looking teens emerged from the metal gate.” Rain smirked. I think she is doing a great job in raising her kids. But oh. I can’t handle the twins alone. we are actually taking about ways on how to raise our kids. what happened to Ana?” I asked my eldest son while stroking Ana’s back to calm her down. This is always their trick if they are going to surprise me.” he whispered after untying my blindfold. “Eliah. what food should we feed our babies. I cannot believe it.” Krizza approached me with her twins in hand. I thought it’s her birthday.

M-Mommy. honey.“We were racing towards the TV room when she accidentally bumped into the flower vase. P-please don’t h-hate me.” Ana nodded then hugged me back tightly. Loving is not all about being perfect for another person. M-Mom. maybe due to the fear that I will reprimand her. my loved ones proved to me that it doesn’t matter. I-I’m sorry. my shortcomings. Please don’t get mad at me. I d-didn’t mean t-to break y-your favorite v-vase. “Why would Mommy hate you. “I’m s-sorry.” “Stop crying. We must learn to accept each others’ flaws in order to understand and to fully love the person we are with. okay? I love you. Nor is it about being perfect just to be loved. we all commit mistakes. Mommy can always replace that broken vase. Remember. M-Mommy. love is about seeing an imperfect person perfectly. They loved me for who I am. In my life.” “I-It’s your f-favorite v-vase. Sometimes. Ana. I have been scarred too many times. But promise Mommy that you’ll be careful next time and that you’ll not repeat the same mistake again. Though scarred. . After all. Faults happen to teach us to stand up and to learn from it. baby.” I continued stroking my baby’s back. They loved me despite my flaws. baby? It’s something trivial. I whispered to her comforting words that somehow lessened her sobbing. She was bawling her eyes out.” I hugged my baby Ana tightly to comfort her. Mommy won’t hate just because you did something wrong. Please don’t hate me. these scars are what makes us beautiful. Nobody’s perfect. Everyone in this world commits mistakes at some point in their lives. I learned to stand up and to be brave. for who you are. But these wounds thought me a lot in life.

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