Blown By The Wind – Kabanata 7
“She’s not really you’re girlfriend, right?” I heard Miss Almacen, my tutor’s oddly enticing voice from behind the door.
Papasok na sana ako sa library nang bigla kong narinig iyon. The door wasn’t closed kaya isang tulak ko, mga isang pulgada, ay narinig ko na agad ang mga boses.
Vincent chuckled under his breath. The playfulness in his tone did not hide the roughness of his normal voice.
“Come on. Don’t insult me like that. Just because I confessed, doesn’t mean you’re allowed to laugh at me,” si Miss Almacen.
I couldn’t believe it. Heat rose in my head. Kahit na mainit ang ulo ko’y sa labas, para akong binuhusan ng malamig na tubig. Tikom ang bibig ko ng mahigpit habang pinipigilan ang sariling buksan ng malaki ang pintuan.
Nawala ang tinig ng ilang sandali. My face reddened as my thoughts fly to whatever was probably happening inside.
“This is not the place,” Vincent said in a low musculine tone.
What does he mean that this is not the place? Bukod doon, hindi niya girlfriend si Vanessa? Then what is she?
“Hmm. You’re particular, huh. Sa bagay, Eury might come here and see us. You want to be in bed. I have an apartment.”
At the mention of my name, agad kong binalik ang pintuan sa dati nitong ayos. It wasn’t my common sense that worked but it was my adrenaline. I pretended as if I just got there and tried knocking on the door.
I gave them at least ten seconds to scramble and go back to their original position before I opened the door.
Diretso ang tingin ko sa aking lamesa, hindi tinitingnan si Miss Almacen man o si Vincent na naroon parin sa madalas niyang puwesto.
“Good afternoon, Eury,” Miss Almacen greeted.
I did not greet her back. Nilapag ko na lamang ang aking mga aklat, determinadong tapusin ang aking session nang sa ganoon ay umalis na itong si Miss Almacen dito.
Hindi man sinasadya ay padabog kong nailapag ang aking mga aklat.
“Bad day, Eury?” Miss Almacen said in an amused tone.
I couldn’t help but glance at Vince’s table who’s looking at me with an eyebrow shot above. Knowing that he’s inside this room is one thing but seeing him inside is another. His presence is demanding. Hindi ko nga lang alam kung dahil ba iyon galit ako o ganoon talaga ang epekto niya sa mga tao. Maybe it’s the first reason, though. Because he’d caught my father’s eye both in business and personality.
Napalunok ako at tiningnan na ang mga aklat. I glanced at Miss Almacen with surprisingly seething anger. Seriously, I have a really bad temper lately. Just looking at Miss Almacen made me hate so much that I need to be violent or something.
“Let’s just get this over with, Miss Almacen. The finals is approaching and I have lots of lessons to catch.”
“Whoa! That’s a good attitude you got there, Eury. Sige, magsimula na tayo.”
Miss Almacen threw a suggestive glance at Vincent. He nodded with amusement and my face burned at it. Parang may pinag-usapan silang hindi ko alam! Parang may sekreto na tinatago! And I hate that thought so much that I think I’m bleeding.
Nagsimula na si Miss Almacen sa kanyang madalas na ginagawa. Just explaining to the board how she got her answer. If I just listen to her closely, I’d learned. But I wish Vincent would go out of the room. The knowledge that he’s there, probably watching me, made me cringe.
Tumayo si Vincent. Pareho kaming napalingon ni Miss Almacen sa kanyang anyo.
I looked at him with the same angry glare. I hated in when he moves like a lion lazily gliding towards wherever he’s going. Gracefully fluid even in his massive six feet and so height and broad shoulders. He screamed so much musculinity that even the way he held the door handle made me a bit uncomfortable.
“Excuse me,” he said politely even when it wasn’t necessary.
Miss Almacen nodded too sweetly that it made mo so annoyed. Nang nawala si Vincent ay tila ‘tsaka lang ako nakahinga nang malalim at ‘tsaka lang din ako nakapag-isip ng maayos.
“You like him,” I said abruptly without looking at my tutor.
“W-What, Eury?” naririnig ko ang hilaw na tawa sa tanong.
Nag-angat ako ng tingin. My vision a bit bloody red for whatever reason.
“He has a girlfriend,” ulit ko kahit na alam kong nasabi na rin ni Miss Almacen na hindi naman talaga iyon girlfriend ni Vincent si Vanessa.
“What are you talking about, Eury?” She laughed again.
She continued with her lecture like she did not hear anything but I couldn’t. Hindi ko na kaya pang makinig ngayong ang utak ko’y punong-puno na ng kung anu-ano.
“Didn’t know you were desperate, Miss Almacen.”
Namutla si Miss Almacen sa narinig galing sa akin. If she was trying to compose herself a while ago, now she couldn’t do it anymore. Even her smile twitched as if there was something wrong with her face muscles.
“Leave Vincent alone,” mariin kong sinabi.
“Eury, anong pinagsasabi mo?” I saw the clear guilt in her eyes. All the more I got annoyed.
“Just leave him alone, Miss Almacen. You will only get hurt. He has had his fair share of woman. I know, I’ve seen it,” I said with a warning.
She looked at me, stunned. Nagsimula na akong magsulat para matapos na ang session naming ito. Hindi na siya muli nagsalita tungkol sa topic ngunit nararamdaman ko ang kanyang pagiging withdrawn sa aming session.
“We’re done for tonight, Eury,” anito ilang minuto ang lumipas.
Agad akong tumayo. Kasabay noon ang pagbukas muli ng pinto para ipakita si Vincent. His first glance was on Miss Almacen. And although she hid it, I saw her half smiled at him.
Padabog kong nilagay ang aking mga aklat sa aking bag at halos tumakbo na palabas ng library. Anger dripping everywhere in me.
The wind chimes touched by the sea breeze sounded so soothing. I wiped away the tears I shed just thinking about it… reminiscing about it.
I have long realized how whatever love I am asking for has dented my morale. I have been an attention-seeker as a teenager. I have learned so many things the hard way. At hindi ko alam kung bakit pagkatapos ng lahat ay ‘tsaka ko lang nalaman kung ano talaga iyon. What was it that made me unreasonably angry about.
Isang maliit na espasyo sa kurtina ay nakita ko si Miss Almacen na umaangkas sa motor ni Vincent. I swallowed the lump in my throat. Anger is still seething like an aura in me.
“Eury, anong tinitingnan mo?”
Kasabay ng pagbitiw ko sa kurtina ay ang pag-alis din ni Vincent. Hinatid ni Ate Lyanna si Vincent at Miss Almacen palabas. There was no explanation as to why Miss Almacen is now leaving with Vincent but I know why, anyway.
“W-Wala,” sabi ko.
Ate Reanne opened the curtain. Thank God, they aren’t there anymore.
“Umalis na si Vince?” Ate Reanne asked.
I shrugged as if I didn’t know and didn’t care. Bumaling sa kalakhan ng sala sa aming pangalawang palapag. Iniwas sa mapanuring tingin ni Ate Reanne kanina.
“Alam mo ba, iyong kaklase ko sa Taxation na si Alisha ay nagconfess kay Vincent kahapon.”
My eyes darted at her.
First of all, paano nakilala ng kanyang kaklase si Vincent? Pangalawa, nag confess? Saan naman nag confess? I don’t remember her bringing her classmates here in opur house.
Her smile widened at my reaction. I wrinkled my nose and started strutting towards our beige sofa. Akala ko’y lulubayan ako ni Ate Reanne ngunit sinabayan niya pa ako roon. I know that it is not really her to be here instead of studying. But then Ate Reanne is a bit cooler than Ate Lyanna. Maybe it’s because she’s born second. Maybe because Ate Lyanna’s expected to inherit Dad’s firm. Clearly, kailangan niyang pumantay man lang kay Daddy sa achievements.
When I think about it, I can actually recall Dad’s a bit disappointed tone when he realized that Ate Lyanna’s interest is interior designing rather than Dad’s field. Dad’s already satisfied with Ate Reanne since she’s pursuing Mom’s position. Ako lang naman ang wala sa dalawa ang pinupursue.
“We hung out at this restaurant after our major exam. That is where Daddy usually brings some of his teams.”
“Paano nakilala ni Vincent ang kaibigan mo?”
Ngumuso si Ate Reanne. Her eyeglasses a bit falling but she managed to put it in place with her index finger.
“You know our school is just beside Dad’s office. I come there often, sometimes for lunch. Kaya naabutan namin si Vincent.”
Her thin pink lips spread in a slow smile. Hinawi ko ang buhok ko at nag-angat ng kilay, nag-iwas ng tingin sa kapatid.
“Vincent said he’s busy so he can’t entertain Alisha. Ang problema pa ay ngayon, pati ang isa ko pang kaibigan ay gustong sumubok din! Ang swerte ni Vanessa, ‘no? Vince is like so talked about man, and she’s the girlfriend.”
I recalled Miss Almacen’s remark about Vanessa. Now, I am not sure which one to believe. Paano kaya naman nasabi ni Ate Reanne na girlfriend ni Vince si Vanessa? But he didn’t deny it either! So she has to be his girlfriend!
“Oh maybe just his series fuck buddies,” I said without hesitation.
Namilog ang mga mata ni Ate Reanne. Her almond eyes darkened. I have always envied that, not my hooded almost-chinky eyes.
“Where did you get those words, Eury?” Now she sounds furious.
I rolled my eyes.
“Kay Amer ba? Oh, that boy!”
“But it’s true, though. I do think he is a playboy. Is that what you want for a brother?” I said ignoring her words.
“He’s a good friend. Almost like a brother to me… and Ate Lyanna. And to you…” there’s a hint of something in her mention of me. “So it doesn’t matter. You should spend more time with him and stop the hate, Eury.”
Tumayo si Ate Reanne at hinalikan ako sa noo bago umalis at naglakad patungo sa kanyang kwarto. I carefully watched her long slender legs alternately gracing our corridors.
Kinabukasan, unang araw ng aming exam, maaga ako sa bahagy dahil tapos na ang dalawa. When the maids said that Dad was around, I went immediately to the library.
I opened the door and found that Vincent is also there, looking intently at his laptop. Isang sulyap para sa akin habang nakakunot ang kanyang noo at binalik ulit ang kanyang mata sa laptop.
“Your tutor isn’t here, yet,” he said in a monotone.
I gritted my teeth at that. Hindi iyon naalis sa aking utak habang ako’y nag-eexam kanina.
I went directly to his table. Although, his presence intimidated me big time. The way he looked at me when he noticed my zooming in, I still carried myself with confidence. Or guarded intimidation. Dahil nanginginig ang binti ko ngayong nakalapit na ako sa kanya. Tanging ang mukha ko lang ang hindi nagpapakita ng ganoong ekspresyon.
His shoulder is squared. And even from his t-shirt, I can tell that his chest is hard as a rock. Tanging ang labi niya lang talaga ang mukhang malambot sa kanyang katawan.
“So, you bedded my tutor last night, huh?” I said with accusation.
Nanliit ang mga mata ko. I crossed my arm and tried to hide my nervousness despite the bravery to come up to him and point out what was obvious.
Nanatili ang tingin niya sa akin. Mas lalo lang akong kinabahan. He looked at me with a ghost of amusement and hidden anger.
“You look so formal when you’re dealing with my sisters, my mother, and father, they didn’t know how big of a manwhore you are!”
He grimaced. It annoyed me more.
“Hindi ba girlfriend mo si Vanessa? And you were just flirting with whoever that damn woman was in Dad’s team. Now, you’ve flirted with my tutor, as well-” I choked on my words when he tried to stand up.
Napaatras ako roon. Ang lapad niya’y tila masyadong mabigat at nakakabagabag. The space he occupied when he’s standing made me shiver at my size. But then I won’t back down. Thinking that… if he’ll hurt me now, he’ll get remove here easily. My parents will remove him. They can’t be that heartless to keep a man, even as talented, that’s hurting their daughter.
But who am I kidding? The reason of my annoying him didn’t occur to me, really. Ngayon lang. Ngayong nakita ko siyang bayolenteng galit at nangingibabaw ang awtoridad, physically, and probably mentally, kumpara sa akin.
“How can you say that I’ve flirted with your tutor, Eury?” in a lazy, ready-to-attack drawl.
“Inangkas mo siya sa motor n’yo! And I’ve heard of her indecent proposal! Surely, a man like you will take advantage!”
“Oh, that’s a poor judgement on your part.”
“It’s obvious, Vince!”
How can a man like you… like you… refuse those offers? I highly doubt it.
Truth is, at first glance, I have noticed how he looks so sexually attractive. It is not just because of his physical size, it is his attitude, his simple unconscious gestures. Sa paghawak lang ng hose at ang pagtayo roon na sa aming hardin ay napapagiwi na ako. He looked squarely like an animal to me… driven by his primitive desires.
His stance every time he’s standing. His way of lazy drawls when talking. His smirk and grimace. The way his eyes redenned when he’s angry. The way his veins show up when he’s being forceful. And I hate every bit of it.
“You flirt just about anyone! You’ve probably bedded everyone. And I bet you’re planning to bed one of my sisters just so you can have Dad’s firm! You’re disgusting!” I meant that as an insult but he didn’t even flinch.
Imbes ay humakbang siya palapit sa akin. Tila nagsasayaw ay nagawa ko ring umatras. Hoping so bad not to reach the wall again, like what happened in the kitchen. But before I could reach the wall, he pulled my wrist forcefully that I groaned at the pain.
My pale skin reddened at the sides of where his fingers were.
“What are you doing to me? Let me go!” I said.
“And you think your sisters are that easy, huh?” He said that with another meaning. At nakuha ko iyon. Sa galit ng mga mata niya, nakuha kong hindi iyon insulto para sa aking mga kapatid. It was more insult to me. “Hahayaan kitang magsalita ng masama sa akin, pero hindi sa mga kapatid mo! Your sisters are nothing but kind and you are suggesting that dirt on your mind. Ganoon ba ang tingin mo sa mga kapatid mo?!”
Namilog ang mga mata ko. How my words quickly backfired.
He looked at me from head to foot with nothing but insult in his eyes.
“You are very different from your sisters… You’re…” Nanliit ang mga mata niya.
Hindi niya na kailangang dugtungan. The hurt has dug in my skin that I can fill in the words that’s missing.
Tears stung my eyes. Maybe because it isn’t an insult. Maybe because I think it is true. Or maybe because I have heard a lot of insults my entire life that I thought they were all true and I am living them.
“What is that, Amore?” Amer asked when he noticed the way I soothed my wrist.
The pain of Vincent’s grip last night is still there. Huminga ako ng malalim at nagpatuloy sa paglalakad patungo sa cafeteria. Girls looked my way and smiled. After that, they gossiped like crazy. Be it about the nerd classmate of mine or Mike.
Speaking of Mike, nakausap ko siya at sinabi niyang ayos lang daw ang pag-alis niya sa aming bahay at naiintindihan niya ang rason. But then he looked furious recalling the way he was shooed away by Vincent. Damn Vince.
“Vince’s gripped me hard on my wrist last night…” I trailed off making his mouth fall with so many ideas.
“He gripped the what?”
Uminit ang pisngi ko. An image flashed on my mind and I stopped it immediately. I can’t decide if I’m disgusted or what.
“Nag-away kami kagabi at hinawakan niya ako rito. You have a dirty mind, Amer.”
“Because you said it a bit weird! Good thing! I want him for myself!” He laughed.
Ngumiti pa ulit ako sa ilan pang babaeng nakasalubong. Girls travel in flocks. They like to gossip and put make up on. I have girl friends but no one as close as Amer. And I guess, I know why. Noong nakaraang taon, ang isang kaibigan ko’y nakipaghiwalay sa boyfriend nang biglang nagpahiwatig ang boyfriend niyang manliligaw sa akin. This is a curse, rather than a blessing.
“I hate him to bits, Amer. He’s a scene stealer. He always get Dad’s attention. I hate him,” ulit ko.
“Maybe he’s talented, that’s why. But I can tell he is.”
Sinuklay ko ang aking buhok gamit ang aking daliri. The V cut of the ends of my hair immediately untangled. Baby hair loosely fell on the sides of my face. Amer looked at me with a smirk.
Mga lalaki naman ngayon ang nadaanan namin. Mga basketball player sa higher grade na agad tumigil at tumigin sa akin, naghihiyawan, at nagtutuksuhan.
“Hi, boys!” Amer entertained then turned back to me. “So saan kayo sa Semestral break?” tanong niya.
I rolled my eyes. “Hindi ako makakapunta roon sa agency dahil pupunta kami ng Batangas.”
“But surely, you can move a go-see? If he scouted you, he can arrange that,” aniya.
“Uh-huh? Try to call them and arrange an appointment when you’re back!”
Parang hulog ng langit si Amer nang sinabi niya iyon. Now, I don’t feel so bad about going to Batangas anymore. Lalo na noong nakita kong hindi namin kasama si Vincent, for some reason, papunta roon.
I rested my head on a pillow as our car started the long drive. Mommy, and my sisters were settling for a sleep, while I am determined to having fun. Si Daddy naman ay purong business habang sinasagot ang mga tawag galing sa kanyang opisina.
Hindi ako natulog, gaya ng mga kapatid ko. Imbes ay tiningnan ko bawat sasakyan, kahoy, bukirin, talahib, at taniman na nadadaanan namin. Nangingiti sa bawat magandang tanawing nakikita at hinihigop ang lahat ng iyon sa aking memorya.
Tumigil ang sasakyan sa isang matalahib at lumang mansyon. Ang nakapalibot na bermuda sa mansyon ay mukhang na mi-maintain naman ng maayos, pero hindi kasing dalas. The dark red wooden mansion looked majestic despite the untrimmed vegetation to its right and the unraked sand on its left.
Pagkalabas sa van ay narinig ko agad ang mga alon sa dagat kung saan. Nilingon ko si Daddy na kalalabas lang ngayon galing sa front seat at nasa telepono parin.
“Yes, Captain. Vince will help me do it. I assume he’s already here,” si Daddy, siguro ay kausap ang may-ari nitong mansion.
Vince is here? Where? Akala ko ba…
Napalinga-linga ako sa paligid. Wala naman akong nakikita roon except ang isang kulay abong maliit na bahay para sa hindi ko alam. May dayami sa loob, that I assumed that it’s for horses. After a few seconds, I realized it is for horses.
A large black stallion galloped towards us. With every move, the sand flew in the air. I don’t remember seeing an actual horse this close before, I lived my whole life on the concrete pavement of Manila. The beast looked scary that my eyes widened.
My eyes shifted on its master, riding it with annoying grace and fluidness. Vince in his t-shirt that showed a humble amount of his chest is maneuvering the horse.
“Andito na pala siya,” si Daddy. “I’ll call again, Captain.”
With his whole weight on the side of the horse, bumaba si Vincent at pagkatapos ay hinawakan ang ulo ng kabayo, tila pinupuri ito bago itinali sa kahoy na bahay nito.
My sisters started hurrying towards him, admiring the black stallion and his being able to master it. Nanatili akong nakatayo sa kung saan malapit ang van habang tinitingnan pati si Mommy at Daddy na palapit sa kanya. They were all eager to see him like he’d been gone for weeks. I smiled bitterly. This is ridiculous.
“Vincent! Hindi ko akalaing napakaganda pala ng lugar na kinalakhan mo!” si Daddy.
So this is where he grew up. I scanned the place again. But then is his relatives here? Mother? Father? Well, I know he’s an orphan. But does he have other relatives?
And I am going to stay where he grew up? Damn it! I shold have known!
“This is where you grew up, Vince?” Ate Reanne said. “That mansion? You must be rich, then! How you said you were from rags, you’re too humble!”
“No, Reanne. The owner, Athena Galvez is rich, not me. I grew up here taking care of their boats and their horses. Lalo na pag nasa byahe si Kapitan, ang asawa ng may-ari.”
“But are you related to them?” Ate Reanne asked.
“No, hija. They’re just from the same hometown.”
Ngumiti si Vince, his eyes suddenly went to me and for a split second I couldn’t move. I looked away and stared blankly at the unraked sand. My breathing hitch for a moment and I’m suddenly sweating cold.
“They are planning to develop this into a hotel. Kaya pinapatingnan kay Architect ang loob para sa kanyang opinyon.”
“Kaya mo ito Vince, pero dahil gusto mong ako ang tumingin, hindi kita bibiguin.”
Vincent growled in his laughter. I shivered at the sound os his deep voice. Bumaba ang tingin ko sa aking mga paa. My family laughed at another joke until some help arrived for our bags.
Dahil excited ang mga kapatid ko ay sumama na sila sa mga nagdala ng mga gamit namin.
Ang tinig ng boots na tumatama sa nagtatalong bermuda at buhangin ay nagpakaba sa akin. Maglalakad na sana ako kasunod ng mga kapatid at magulang ko nang narinig si Vince.
“Someone is not pleased to be here,” his tone is teasing.
“Who will be pleased? I am not at all interested with your hometown. I would rather stay at home and sleep,” I said and glared at him.
I caught him looking at me intently. His eyes revealed so much and so little at the same time. Like it wants me to know things but it isn’t welcoming enough.
“Vincent!” A girl’s voice registered on my ear. It is not my family, I’m sure. I know them too well.
Umangat ang tingin ko sa veranda ng pangalawang palapag at nakita roon… si Vanessa! What the hell is she doing here?
Binalik ko ang tingin ko kay Vincent. His eyes never left mine and a slow curve, like a smile, is plastered on his face.
“No funny plans this time, jealous kid,” he said as he chuckled.
Uminit ang pisngi ko sa galit. Fuming mad, he left me with bigger steps. He advanced until he’s gone inside the house. Kumaway si Vanessa sa akin at ngumiti ng pagkatamis tamis.
I have nothing but rage inside me. Feelings developed abnormally. And hatred was all that I can name it.