“IS SHE all right?”
“Don’t worry, Mr. Salvatierra. She’s going to be fine. What happened to her earlier isn’t fatal at all.”
Rachel slightly opened her eyes. But she also immediately closed her eyes firmly again. Melvin, Ylac, and their company doctor were the ones she overheard talking softly near the clinic door. She continued pretending to be asleep while listening.
“In that case, why is she still unconscious? What happened to her?”
“I’m not sure either, Mr. Osias. She was awake when you brought her here earlier. In any case, her vital signs are okay, and it’s also good that she’s sleeping now. She needs rest anyway.”
“Frances will kill me when she finds out what happened to her friend. And in my company too! Melvin, what the hell did you do to her?”
She almost gasped when she heard the man’s name. He was the one who carefully and gently supported her when she suddenly choked on her food earlier. That’s probably the reason why she felt her condition got even worse. Because she almost fainted when Melvin touched her arm.
It had been such a long time since she had last seen him. And when she did see him again, she didn’t even know what to say or do. She forgot how to breathe, even so, her food ingestion was affected. But what happened might’ve turned out for the best. At the very least, she had an excuse not to talk to him right away. She needed some time off. Seeing him again after all these years just overwhelmed her.
She never admitted, even to herself, that she was also looking forward to seeing him again. Never mind their stained past. She wanted to see him again, but it was not in her plan to meet the man again now. She was still not prepared.
“Let’s just let her rest first, Mr. Salvatierra.” The doctor spoke again. “I can assure you she really is just fine, gentlemen. There’s nothing to worry about.”
“Well, if you say so, Doctor.” She heard their footsteps coming out. “Do you and Rachel know each other, Melvin?”
“Why did you say that?”
“Because you kept staring at her.”
She almost coughed at what she heard. Melvin kept staring at her! Then she heard the sound of the door closing. She gradually opened her eyes. After making sure that they had left, she slowly got up and pressed her ear to the door leaf. They’re gone. Now she can leave that building without letting anyone know. She doesn’t care if she gets fired for leaving without giving any notice. After all, her savings in the bank were already enough for her to build her own business. And she had her friends to back her up. She just couldn’t risk herself being caught off guard now that Melvin was back in her life. With her initial reactions due to the man earlier, her loss of control over the situation would certainly not end there. And she is not used to everything around her going against her grasp. Even more so because he was involved. She’s freaking out because she really doesn’t know what to do.
That’s why she had to leave first and cool down. Once the clouds of dust on her brain disappear and she could clearly do what she was supposed and the right thing to do, she would return and face Melvin Osias. In the meantime—
Suddenly, the door opened and it hit her face causing her to be outbalanced and fell. She was still “kissing” the marble floor and was ready to kill the culprit when she heard that voice again.
“Rachel, are you all right?”
The moment Melvin touched her arm, she knew she was at Lala land again. She closed her eyes and pretended to be asleep one more time. This is the most pathetic thing she’s ever done in her entire existence—pretending to be sleeping on the floor after only a minute of being on the bed. But what the heck? She would try everything just to avoid a face-to-face conversation with him, even if it would kill her.
She didn’t hear a word from Melvin. Has he left? Then, she felt herself being lifted by strong arms. Her whole system seemed to freeze. She could feel his hard chest muscles, the steady beating of his heart, and breathed in his aftershave cologne mixed with the scent of his bath soap. Her senses were reeling, her heart was beating so fast she thought it would burst out of her chest any moment. She had never been this descriptive when it came to men. After all, no man has ever been able to lift her as if her weight was insignificant.
‘Don’t open your eyes, Rachel’, she whispered inside her head. ‘Don’t open your damn eyes.’ She felt her back settle against the soft bed. Then he carefully organized her blanket. Not a single word was heard from him all the while. Was he laughing at her secretly?
She couldn’t keep herself in the end. She opened her eyes and she was greeted by the most handsome face she had ever wanted to see in her entire life, only a few inches away from hers!
“Hi!” Melvin greeted with a smile. “Are you feeling well?” She stared at the man blankly. “The doctor said you need to rest.” She still didn’t say anything. “Actually, I just came back here to check your condition, if you’re doing okay. Now that I know you’re fine, I’ll leave you alone so you can rest more.”
He slowly stood up, a smile reaching his eyes now. She felt like the man had brought her heart as he stood up and headed for the door. Suddenly, an unknown force seemed to surround her and she just found herself throwing away the blanket and sitting on the side of the bed. Then without any preamble, she heard herself speak.
“Melvin…” Her tongue seemed to recede when the man turned to her. “I, ah… I… I… w-wan—s-someth—”
Oh, goodness! Is she really the person she heard speaking? She couldn’t seem to recognize that voice. But she and Melvin are the only two in that room so it is impossible for someone else to suddenly be with them at the moment. Unless there was a ghost roaming around her. Could it be that she is already possessed by a ghost? She shook her head. She can’t believe she could still think of strange things at the moment.
“You need some—”
“Will you marry me?”
It was as if everything around them stopped the moment she had uttered those words. Even she was not able to move in her seat though she really wanted to immediately run out of that room and never show up in front of him again. But Melvin, with his handsome smiling face, just looked at her and said something that would forever haunt her sleeping and waking hours.
“Yes, Rachel,” Melvin answered. “I will marry you.”
Then he went out, leaving her to deal with the mess she just created. She took the flower vase near her and was about to hit it on her head when she remembered she might get hurt and changed her mind. She just pulled out a rose from it and that’s what she slapped on herself.
“You stupid, stupid, stupid woman! Why is it that with so many opportunities in the world that you can act like a genius, you thought of acting crazy now?”
She laid down on the bed and decided to release her annoyance with the pillow and the sheets. Then once she calmed down, she’d decided to fix herself.
“Let’s see… I choke on my food for the first time, I have a lump on my forehead and I just proposed marriage to the man I never thought would ever come back to my life.” She then bunned her wavy hair that was in utter disarray. “Hey, that’s not really a mess, isn’t it? It’s a disaster, you beautiful creature!” She lightly slapped herself a few times. “Oh, God! Rachel, what the heck did you do?”
Then she suddenly hardened. She proposed marriage to Melvin. And did he not agree with her? If so, she really has nothing to be ashamed about. If he refused and laughed at her, she would have had more reason to hang herself. With that thought in mind, she walked out of that clinic and headed for the nearest fire exit with her head held high. She’ll just persuade her friend Frances to tenderly coax her fiancé, who is her boss so he won’t fire her because of her escape today.
“CONGRATULATIONS to Ylac and Frances!”
The people who attended the engagement party of the two applauded while Rachel feasted her eyes on the food lying on the buffet table.
“Rachel, wipe that drool in your mouth,” Jereth said beside him. “It’s embarrassing. People here might think we know each other.”
Her palm automatically landed on her mouth. Then she heard her friends laughing. Her crazy friends were playing with her again.
“Don’t you guys have anything to do?” she said. Then she picked up a piece of lumpiang shanghai. The thing went straight to her mouth. “Go and leave me here alone. I’m feasting and you’re all just being a nuisance as I eat.”
“We can’t leave you here,” said Rushell who is also newly engaged. “The guards might suddenly pick you up and send you to the zoo.”
“It’ll be our loss,” Leilani added while grinning. “We won’t have a pet anymore.”
“We will also lose our entertainment,” Cherry chipped in.
“Wow, will you look at that? I didn’t know I have a lot of use for all of you.”
Her friends just laughed. She can’t believe they could bravely insult her now just because her friends have already found their lifelong allies. Yes, in just a few months that passed, four of her friends got suddenly engaged. Frances was first, though the formal announcement was a bit late. Cherry was the second, Jereth was the third, and Rushell was the latest victim of Cupid’s arrow. She is also certain that one of these days, the heart of their polluted-minded Maria Clara friend, May, will be hit. It was just surprising that the fiancés of those three were from Rancho Estate Village. Even May’s apple-of-the-eye was from the said village. Oh, well, it could also probably be just a coincidence. (TN: Maria Clara means overly conservative)
“Don’t interrupt me when I’m eating, Jackielyn Abiga.” Her friend then picked up three more pieces of lumpia and put them on her plate. “Thank you. Please continue.”
“You, really,” her friend just shook her head while saying. “Where do you even bring those food you eat? While you will not be even seen with single belly fat in your body. ”
“In my stomach, where else?” She peeked at her stomach under her plate. “I’m fat. It’s just not obvious.”
“Her body’s metabolism is fast, that’s why she doesn’t gain weight,” Jade said. “In short, she’s always in the bathroom.”
The laughter in their group resounded. She would not even be surprised if everyone in the village had heard their laughter. She didn’t know what made her turn to that part of the clubhouse where a few men were talking and smiling as they looked in their direction. And there she saw her reason. Melvin Osias. He looked like he had been being urged by his friends, especially Marx. Yes, their high school corps commander whom he met when Cherry first announced her engagement there. But why could he only see Melvin now in this place when some of her friends had already made engagement announcements here previously?
That was the second time they saw each other after she went crazy and suddenly asked him to marry her. And that was already almost two months ago. Is he avoiding her? She felt something like a little pinch in her heart at the knowledge that he was avoiding her. Well, on her part, she deliberately avoided him but she was still hoping, in the deep recesses of her heart, that they would meet again somewhere. But now… She saw him placed down the glass of wine he was holding. Then he started walking towards their direction.
“Hey, Rachel, where are you going?” May asked.
“I forgot to brush my teeth.”
Even she was confused by her own answer. “Nevermind. Please tell Frances I came so there was no reason for her to give me a rant.”
Her friends haven’t met Melvin formally yet. Only Cherry, Frances, and Jade really saw and was introduced to him. And all those times, she was not in front of them. So when her friends finally see Melvin, she will definitely be in trouble. And she wouldn’t wish that at the moment—not after she proposed marriage to him. She did not know yet how to explain to her friends about the unusual event that happened between her and the man when she herself couldn’t understand that. And she is not used to being confused by such events.
She felt the time had slowed down as she hurriedly walked to the gate of the village clubhouse. She was thinking of flying just to get there when suddenly, two identical boys stopped her in her tracks.
“Yes?” she asked the kids.
“We can’t find our mommy.”
“Have you seen our mommy?”
“No.” She tried passing through them but the kids, obviously twins, still blocked her way. “Look, midgets, I’m sure you’ll eventually find your mommy. Just enter the clubhouse and ask there, okay? Now, will you let me pass through please?”
The twins looked at each other.
“She’s bad, Trigger.”
“You’re right, Jigger.”
The boy she called scowled at her. “It’s ‘Trigger.’”
“Right. So, can you let me pass by now?” The boys looked at each other again. If the twins hadn’t finally moved away, she would have likely kicked them.
She stiffened in her place when she heard the voice of the person who called her. This isn’t happening! She forced her feet to take a step.
“Rachel, I hate to think you’re running away from me.”
“I’m not running away from anyone.” She stopped walking and faced him. Her heart was hammering inside her chest as she stared at the familiar handsome face. She tried her best to calm herself down, as much as she could. “So?”
“The party is not over yet. Why are you leaving so early?”
“I forgot I still have something IMPORTANT to do.”
“I see.” Melvin nodded. “I thought I was the reason you suddenly left.”
She exaggeratedly laughed. “Why would I leave just because of you?”
She knew Melvin knew she was not telling the truth. Yet he just let it go. Because he knew she would be embarrassed. She forgot to panic in front of him for a moment and that feeling was suddenly replaced by a strange sense of admiration.
“So, are you really going?”
“H-huh? Ah, yes. My mother is calling for me.”
“You need a ride?”
“No, you don’t have to bother. But thanks anyway. Okay, bye.”
“Okay, take care.”
Even though she could not see herself, she knew her face could no longer be described the moment she turned her back on him. My mother is calling for me? Rachel, you’re a really big ‘Stupid’!