Island of Fire – Kabanata 1

November 29, 2016 By In Island of Fire Comments Off on Island of Fire – Kabanata 1

Kabanata 1
Cell

We have just landed on Isla Fuego. Immediately, I went out of the chopper just so I could breathe properly and look at my phone.

Ang mainit na hangin ay sinalubong ng aking buhok dahilan ng pagsabog nito. Hinarap ko ang pinanggalingan ng hangin at nakita ang lawak ng asul na karagatan. Beyond the blues are the torquoise waters.

Tinanggap ko ag tawag ng aking kaibigan. Umirap ako at pilit nang naghanap ng dahilan.

“Zari, where are you?” I can almost hear Calla’s suspicious tone.
“I’m planning out my vacation already. I left the event because I got too bored. Ang tagal magsimula.”

Iminuswestra ko kay Roman na ibaba na ang bihag.

Binili namin ni Daddy ang isla na ito noong nakaraang taon. He developed the small house on top of the hill overlooking the whole island and the seas around it.

This island used to be a tourist spot. Ang katabing mga isla nito ay ganoon din. There’s just this businessman who owns these islands and happen to sell one to my father. Binili niya ito and I liked it so I couldn’t let go of it. Ngayon, pribado na ito at hindi ko na pinapayagang puntahan ng ibang tao.

The six-hectare oval shaped island has white and fine sand, clean shores, a hill (where the house we built was located), a yacht, some jetskis, and another house just below the hill where the supposed guests should be housed, if there are.

Narinig kong kumalabog ang kung ano sa likod. Probably the man fell of the chopper. Lampa. Darn it.

“Are you sure, though? Radleigh Riego did not show up and his fiancee’s family is already very worried! It’s all over the news,” concern na tono ni Calla.

Ngumiti ako at humalukipkip. Nakita ko si Belinda sa aking harapan na gustong magtanong. Nasa gitna ng kuarenta ang edad nito at ang kanyang manipis na buhok ay pinaghalong itim at gold. She’s with some of my bags. Tumango ako dahil naintindihan kong nagtatanong siya kung saan iyon ilalagay.

“Baka naman ayaw niya sa fiancee niya?” Natawa ako pero hindi nakuha ni Calla ang humor.

I can imagine her suspicious face right now.

Humina ang rotor ng chopper at narinig ko na ang pagpipilit ni Roman na ibaba ang bihag sa bahay at ilagay siya roon sa opisina ni Daddy na sa ngayon ay magiging opisina ko. Tumalikod ako sa maiingay na bodyguard para maharap ang mas mapayapang dagat.

“He was at the hotel, Zari. Everyone knows he’ll join the engagement party.”

Nakapamaywang na ako ngayon. Masyado na akong kilala ng kaibigan na hindi na ata ako makakapagsinungaling.

“So what do you mean about this, Calla? I don’t know what happened to the man and I don’t even give a damn-”
“You don’t give a damn when just the other day you told me you need his help?”
“He doesn’t want to participate in helping me so why the hell will I give a damn after that-”
“Well, because you said that he’s your only choice! Zari, please tell me you did not do something stupid this time. I won’t tell anyone. You know you can trust me but I do hope you really did not do anything stupid.”

Alam kong kagagawan ko rin naman kung bakit ganito ang opinyon ng aking kaibigan. But I don’t think I’m ready to tell her that, yet. Lalo na’t isang malaking krimen nga itong nagawa ko.

Nagsimula akong mag-isip sa maaaring mangyari pagkatapos nito. Will I convince him? What will damn happen if I won’t? Kailangan pa ba siyang tutukan ng baril para sumang-ayon?

He’d definitely do it, anyway. I know I can make him do it.

Huminga ako ng malalim.

“Calla, I’ll call you soon. I’m pretty busy right now. I don’t think I can talk about the stupid things you’re asking me.”
“Okay, Zari. Call back soon, okay? Nasa condo ka ba? I can go there, you know.”
“No. Nasa ancestral house ako. I’ll call you soon. Bye. Love you.”

By now, I’m sure Calla’s already formulating ideas. Alam kong mapagkakatiwalaan ko siya pero ayaw kong magkaroon ng konsensya sa ngayon. For sure she’d tell me things that would bother me all night and I don’t like that. I need the fire I have right now to pursue what I need the most.

Bumaba ako sa kwarto kung saan paniguradong naroon ang bihag kasama ang mga bodyguards na dala ko.

The whole house is modernly design but it vintage-looking. Kahit na concrete ang kabuuan ay tinabunan naman ang mga dingding ng hardwood para magmukhang vintage. The furnitures are new but are antique-looking too. Ang limang silid na meron ito ay may iba’t ibang wallpaper depende sa kagustuhan ko. Ang opisina naman ni Daddy ay gaya ng dingding sa kabuuan ng bahay.

I opened the door to his office and saw the two lamps on the sides of a painting of me. Below it is a fireplace. Malamig kasi rito kapag gabi.

Sa gitna ng malaki at nakakasilaw na glass bintana ay pinaluhod ang naka coat and tie pa na bihag. Kumunot ang noo ko at iginala muli ang tingin sa mga naroon.

I brought here eight bodyguards. Lima ang nasa harap ko at ang tatlo’y pumalibot na sa isla para magbantay.

Iginala ko pang muli ang mga mata ko sa mga bodyguard kong tahimik at nag-aantay sa sasabihin ko. Ibinalik ko sa lalaking nakaluhod, nakapiring, tahimik, at nakagapos ang kamay sa likod.

Is that Radleigh Riego?

I remember him as a lean and tall man who has eyeglasses.

Isang hakbang ang ginawa ko at lumapit muli. Did we get the wrong man?

Humataw ang puso ko nang lumapit ako sa lalaki para kumpirmahin kung sino iyon. I tilted my head and bended a bit and saw that familiar curve of his lips. Nag-angat ako ng tingin kay Roman.

Kumpirmado ko na pero pakiramdam ko’y hindi ito. He should be crying like a little girl now but he’s just there waiting for me to speak up. Oh! Did he know that it’s me who kidnapped him already?

Paano niya naman malalaman, hindi ba? Kilala niya ba ang boses ko? Hindi naman.

O baka may naiisip na siya dahil naagrabyado niya ako? Whatever.

“Good evening, Mr. Riego…” sambit ko at nag-angat ng tingin ulit kay Roman na tumango sa akin.

Lagot itong mga ito sa akin kapag mali ang taong ito. But then it’s his lips and nose. His defined jaw and larger frame told me that he’s been fit. He’s not anymore the man I remember.

Gained some confidence, huh?

“Oh sorry. Engineer Riego. My bad,” may panunuya kong sinabi.

Humakbang ako patungo sa gilid para mas makita ang ibang anggulo niya. Even in his coat and tie, I can sense the firmness of his arms. His legs looked also very fit and the bulge in between his thighs look… well…

This is him now, huh?

Kaya naman pala maayos ang fiancee. Galing din sa magandang pamilya. If you have the money and the looks, you really can get everything you want. Napawi ang ngiti ko.

“I’m sorry to disturb your day but… I really need you to hear my business proposal properly.”

His jaw clenched. It made me a little bit uncomfortable. Tumigil ako sa paglalakad at sa ganoong anggulo ko siyang tinitigan. How old is he now? Twenty nine? Thirty?

People really change, huh?

“At dahil hindi mo ako pinapaunlakan sa mga sulat ko, heto ka ngayon sa aking harapan para pakinggan akong mabuti at mapag-isipan mong mabuti ang gusto kong mangyari.”

Hindi parin siya kumikibo. Pinasadahan ko ng mga daliri ang aking buhok.

Hindi ko matanggap ang sulat na ibinigay niya sa akin pagkatapos kong desperadong manghingi sa kanya ng tulong. How dare he ignore my letter!

“But first, I’d like to ask you if you know who am I, Engineer Riego,” sambit ko.

He laughed mockingly a bit. Napatuwid ako sa pagkakatayo lalo na nang ngumuso siya at binasa ang kanyang labi gamit ang dila.

“Just tell me whatever you want now, Miss Leviste.”

Ngumisi ako at ngayon ay humakbang palapit sa kanya. Nilingon ko si Edgar at sinenyasan na ihanda ang baril. Tumango ito at hinawakan na ang baril sa gilid ng damit.

I leaned to my captive so I can whisper on his ear.

“You’re really genius, huh?”

His jaw clenched again. Ibinaling niya ang ulo sa salungat na direksyon. Ngumisi ako.

“I still have that effect on you, Radleigh? Hmm?” I whispered.

Hindi siya nagsalita. Nanatiling igting ang kanyang panga.

“Have you fallen in love with your fiancee that you couldn’t let me borrow you a bit?” malambing kong bulong.

Bumaba ang tingin ko sa kanyang labi. I suddenly have that urge to tease him but of course not in front of my guards. But then… cheek would do right?

Dinampian ko ng malambot na halik ang kanyang pisngi. He did not move even a bit. He just let me do it. Not that he could move more but he can at least try to tilt his head away from me.

I gave him another peck but then he tilted his head making me almost kiss his lips! Tumuwid ako sa pagkakatayo at natigilan.

Tumaas ang kanyang kilay at sumilaw ang ngiti sa labi. I’m already mouthing What the Fuck. Salamat at nakapiring siya.

“Miss Leviste, why don’t you kiss me on my lips instead? I’d pay attention more.”

Tinuro ko si Edgar at agad nitong tinutukan si Radleigh ng baril sa sentido. ‘Yan ang napapala mo.

Tumigil siya sa pagsasalita ngunit ang ngiti sa labi ay naroon parin. I couldn’t smile anymore. I don’t know why I’m just suddenly bothered.

“That will make you pay attention more, right?” halos manginig ang boses ko.

Hindi siya nagsalita. So I guess he can really pay attention now. I’d stop teasing him. Let’s get to the main point.

“Pakakawalan kita rito sa aking mga kondisyon. Kung hindi ka papayag ay ikukulong ka rito sa isla at mag-aantay ako kung kailan magbabago ang isipan mo. If you’d agree to my business proposal, I’d set you free with me but my guards will make sure that you carry out what I want. If you’ll tell the authorities about it, you’ll be killed.”

Napawi ang ngiti niya. Kahit nakapiring ay nakitaan ko ng galit ang kanyang mukha.

“You know what my business proposal is and it will require you to ditch your fiancee for me. Unless of course you’d agree to give me a share without us being married then I’d like that more.”
“Ito na lang ba talaga ang natitira mong paraan, Miss Leviste?” malamig niyang tanong.
“Anong pakealam mo sa mga gusto kong paraan-”
“If you’d ask Ethan to help you out I’m sure he would. Your company is sinking and you’ll sink with it if you’ll try to revive it. Mas mabuting hayaan mo itong mawala at magsimula ka sa-”
“Wala kang pakealam sa gusto ko. I have the business proposal and the question here is if you’d agree with me, Riego! I did not ask for your opinion so don’t bother.”

Umigting muli ang kanyang panga at natahimik na lamang. I sensed his biceps moving a bit. Maybe he’s trying to get out of here. Nilingon ko si Edgar at mas lalong tinutok ang baril kay Rad.

“Is it so hard? You just have to share it to me. But of course your family would wonder why you’re giving me so much so I’d suggest we can have a pragmatic marriage. I’m sorry for your fiancee but she has to move a bit.”
“You really think you can get anything by force, don’t you?” naririnig ko na ang iritasyon sa kanyang tono.

Yes, that’s how you should feel.

“This won’t be by force if you’d only reply to my letter in a positive manner.”
“Your idea is ridiculous! You know your company is in big debt because of your father. Everyone knows that! Why can’t you just accept your defeat and try to make everything right instead of resorting to another wrong?”
“Everything will be fine if you just follow whatever I say, Rad,” mapanuya kong sinabi.

Muli ay umigting ang panga niya. Kung nakawala siya ngayon, I can imagine him punching me in frustration. But he’ll be killed before he can do that!

“Sobrang mahal mo ba ang babaeng iyon para ayawan ang gusto ko? It’s just a simple deal. Kung sinagot mo lang sana ang mensahe ko imbes na ignorahin ay sana hindi na tayo umabot sa ganito.”

Naglakad ako para tingnan siya sa kabilang anggulo naman. I cannot believe that he’s grown like this. I mean, he’s already tall but right now he’s all manly. He matured. Very well.

“Put your shares on my company so I can fully operate once again. The profit will go to the debts of my father as I process his case, too. He should be out of prison.”

Pumunta ako malapit sa fireplace at tiningnan ang aking larawan. I look snobbish in that picture. But well, in real life, too.

“Alam kong kaya mo itong gawin. You both have VHRV Holdings and RHI in your palms. You can manipulate everything. Supply my estates and voila! we’re good!”

Nilingon ko siya. Nanatili siya sa ganoong posisyon habang nakatutok ang baril ni Edgar. Nakatingin ang aking mga bodyguards sa akin.

Bigla akong nakaramdam ng awa sa aking sarili. Napalunok ako nang napagtanto na ginagawa ko na ang lahat ng posible para lang maisalba ang aking ama at ang kompanya.

I adored my father so much. Ever since he lost my mother from a car crash, ang sabi ni Ethan ay nalulong si Daddy sa casino. Hindi ako naniniwala dahil hindi ko naman nakikita. But he’s always out, I’m always with my nannies and bodyguards. Inubos ko ang oras ko sa eskwelahan at sa kung anu-ano pang mga bagay.

I decided to leave the Philippines when I wanted to pursue Architecture. Father was left here and continued his gambling. Kaya ngayon, ito ang naging resulta.

And I will never let everyone see my fall. I will never ever fall. Not in everyone’s eyes. I will stay on top. My father can play in the casino all he wants. We’ll never run out of money! I’ll make sure of that!

“So tell me, Rad, are you up to this?” tanong ko.
“No,” mariin niyang sinabi.

Nagtiim-bagang ako. I don’t want to waste time here while my father rots in jail. I need to move but if he’s going to be difficult, I don’t have a choice.

“Edgar,” tawag ko kaya mas idiniin ni Edgar ang baril sa ulo ni Rad.
“I’ll ask you again. Are you doing this, Engineer Riego?”
“No,” he said with conviction.

He’s really testing my patience. Hindi ko matanggap na ganito ngayon.

Tumango ako kay Roman bilang utos na ihatid niya sa sa pagkukulungan namin sa kanya. Nilingon niya si Radleigh at binalik muli sa akin ang mga mata.

“Po? Ma’am?” he asked.
“Put him in his cell,” I said.

Nilingon ulit ni Roman si Radleigh. Did he not understand my English.

“Ilagay mo siya sa kulungan, Roman,” utos kong muli.

In just a split second, Radleigh untangled his cuffs. Nakita ko kung paano niya tinanggal ang kanyang piring.

Sisigawan ko na sana ang mga tanga kong guards nang biglang tinutok ni Edgar sa akin ang baril pagkatayo ni Radleigh Riego sa aking harap.

His hawklike eyes was directed on me. His silhouette screamed of authority. His large frame covered the light I’m seeing from the windows as he walked towards me.

“Roman!” sigaw ko ngunit ang aking body guard ay mabilis na lumapit sa akin hindi para tulungan ako ngunit para kunin ang aking mga kamay at igapos ang mga iyon.

“What the hell? Roman! Edgar!” sigaw ko ng paulit ulit habang nanlalaban.

Tahimik ang mga ito. Hinarap ko ang lalaking unti-unting lumalapit sa aking harapan. His thick eyebrows furrowed and his whole expression is as hard as a rock. His presence is overwhelming but I couldn’t help but mock at my opinion about all of these!

“What the hell are you doing? Anong ibig sabihin nito!? How dare you do this!”

Sobrang galit ang naramdaman ko na pakiramdam ko’y sasabog ako. My frustration turned into tears but my anger’s greater than them.

“You… You planned this out! How did you…”

Paano niya nakumbinsi sina Roman, Edgar, at iba pang body guards? Pati ba si Belinda? Paano nangyari ito?

“What do you fucking want?” sigaw ko nang napagtanto ang lahat.

Tatawagin niya ba ang mga police? Oh my goodness, am I going to jail?

Hinila ko ang aking kamay para makawala. Gumalaw galaw ako para mabitiwan ng mga bodyguards. I even kicked them the reason why lumayo ang iba.

“Itali n’yo rin ang mga paa niya,” utos ni Rad.

Fuck him! What the hell is this for?

“Fuck you! Fuck you, Radleigh Riego! Fuck you, you asshole!” paulit ulit kong sigaw.
“Tape her fucking mouth, Roman!” halos sumigaw ito dahilan ng pagkakatameme ko.

Naghubad siya ng coat at hinagod niya ng kamay ang batok na tila ba pagod na pagod siya sa ginawa.

Isang itim na duct tape ang nilagay ni Roman sa aking bibig. I continued mumbling right then but no clear words can be uttered.

Bumaling muli si Rad sa akin, ngayon ay sing lamig ng yelo ang mga mata.

“Bring her to her cell.”

Fuck you! Fuck you! Asshole! Magtawag ka ng pulis! Mas mabuti pang mamatay na lang ako! Makulong! And if I ever get out of here, I would definitely sue all of them! These guards are good for nothing! And Belinda, if she’s part of this. Damn witch!

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