12 March 2009

Leave it up to Fate: Chapter Eleven

New to the Japayuki Chronicles?
Start with the Overview or Chapter 1
Or go to the previous chapter (Chapter 10)

You look different?! What a lame observation for a supposedly intelligent man,” Kaye snorted derisively, “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Well, he did say that it was for the better,” Ana defended. It was Tuesday night; Kaye had just gotten back from a business trip to Osaka and it was Tessa’s night off. So the three of them were having dinner at home. Ana was heating leftovers in the microwave and Tessa was laying plates on the table.

“Wow, it’s like something out of High School Musical,” Tessa observed.

“Only they should be way past that stage by now,” Kaye retorted as she turned in response to the ping of the rice cooker. She opened it and began to scoop rice onto a serving plate. “But I guess its alright since you seem to have missed an entire period of adolescence Ana,” she continued as she closed the lid and put the plate on the table. Ana stuck her tongue out at Kaye’s teasing.

“Ana?” Tessa tentatively asked as they sat down and served themselves.

“Hm?” Ana looked up as she reached for a bowl of week-old pork menudo.
Tessa tilted her head inquisitively, “Have you ever had a boyfriend?”

“Ayan na!” Kaye crowed, “Thanks Tessa, I’ve always wanted to ask.” She sat back and surveyed Ana, “Well, have you?”

Ana took her time answering, “We-ell, nothing serious, but I’ve dated a few times…”

“Define a few,” Kaye commanded.

“Uh, two.”

“And how long were you going out with them?” Tessa asked

“A few months…” Ana prevaricated.

“How many times?” Kaye persisted.

“A couple of times… Alex and I went out on six … no, five dates. The last one didn’t count since we decided to stop seeing each other then.” Ana answered.

“What about the other guy?” Tessa inquired.

“Uh, we went out twice.” At Kaye’s look, Ana gave in, “Ok, ok, once. He was my prom date, but he went to the after-prom party with me. So technically that’s two dates.” She didn’t add that he was an old family friend whose mother was a close friend of Ana’s mom. Tita Mildred had to make all sorts of promises before Robby had agreed to accompany Ana. When Kaye and Tessa exchanged looks of exasperation, Ana blurted out, “Why, how many have you guys gone out with?”

“I’ve had three boyfriends,” Tessa answered. She turned to Kaye, “By the way, my brothers only know about one.”

“Noted,” Kaye smiled. She thought Tony and Andy, Tessa’s brothers, were way overprotective of their little sister.

“And you, Kaye?” Ana asked.

Kaye shrugged, “I’ve had three serious ones and five not-so-serious ones.”

“What about Shiro, what category does he go into?” Tessa asked, referring to the young, Japanese IT executive Kaye had been seeing until about a couple of months ago.

Kaye smiled, “My bad. Make that six not-so-serious relationships.”

Ana shook her head, “And how many of those were in Tokyo?”

“Five,” Kaye answered as she spooned the last of the curry onto her plate.

Ana gaped at her, “That is absolutely amazing. We arrived in Tokyo the same time, yet I haven’t been on a single date.”

“Well, it is kind of hard to get close to you,” Tessa observed, “When I first got here, you scared me more than Kaye.”

Ana groaned and Kaye laughed, “Ann, this is serious! Tessa thought you were scarier than me! And I scare most people off with a look.”

The doorbell rang and Tessa jumped up to peer at the screen that showed the lobby. “It’s a delivery man,” she said as she let him into the building, “Did any of you order anything?”

“Not me,” Kaye said.

“I didn’t order anything either,” Ana responded.

Tessa opened the door when the deliveryman rang again. She was surprised to receive a hefty package. She signed for it and went back into the dining room.

“Well, who is it for?” Kaye asked, eyeing the package curiously.

“It’s for Ana,” Tessa answered. Both Kaye and Ana rushed into the living room where Tessa deposited the box. It was wrapped in white paper, and was unmarked, save for the delivery form.

Kaye peered at it, “It’s from a place called TBT Productions,” she stared at Ana, “Isn’t that Nakamura’s agency?”

“I have no idea,” Ana said as she handled the package.

“Open it!” squealed Tessa excitedly.

Ana’s hands trembled as she unwrapped the package. An envelope fell out when she slid the outer wrapping away. Ana saw her name scrawled on the envelope and knew instinctively that it was from Ken. She opened the note and it read: “To Ana---This is for you to wear on Saturday. From Ken P.S. Consider this a gift” Ana smiled as she took in the underlined word. Apparently Ken wanted to get back for what happened at Taki’s last weekend. She put the note down and turned her attention to the contents of the box. She opened the lid and parted layers of tissue. The three of them gave a collective gasp. The box contained a gorgeous red cocktail dress.

Tessa let out an excited squeal and Kaye held the dress up for closer inspection. Tessa rummaged in the box and found shoes, a wrap, and a bag to match. As her companions cavorted, Ana thought the ensemble was way too much and made up her mind to give everything back. That is, before she gave in to Kaye and Tessa’s nagging and tried the dress on. She fell in love with it when she saw herself in the mirror. It was simply cut, sleeveless, with a low, square neckline. The simple, fitted skirt fell just short of her knees in front but gave way to graceful folds of a faux bustle at the back.

Ana sighed as she fingered the expensive fabric, a few weeks ago, she never would have chosen this dress for herself. Yet now, it seemed exactly the sort of dress that went with her new image. It was funny how someone like Dan, who had known her longer, had thought her incapable of change. Yet Ken, who had entered her life only a few short weeks ago, not only had seen her potential, but also had picked out a dress that matched her new frame of mind perfectly. As she looked at herself in Kaye’s full-length mirror, the reality of her situation suddenly came crashing down on her. She was changing. Her life was changing. And this time it seemed that all control had been whipped out of her hands. Was she really ready to relinquish all control to fate?

“Thank you ladies and gentlemen, that ends yet another colorful chapter in the lives of our protagonists,” Jon intoned in his best radio voice. He and Kaye were having a quick lunch at the Shin Marunouchi building in Otemachi. Their offices were fairly close to each other and they met up for lunch once or twice a week. Kaye had just finished telling him about the recent developments in the Ken-Ana-Dan love triangle. “And it’s only Thursday,” he continued, “Who knows what will happen tomorrow. Stay tuned! Abangan ang susunod na kabanata. Bow.”

“Well, at least she’s been getting some sort of reaction from wonder-Dan.” Kaye observed as she speared an asparagus from her salad. “Apparently, he asked her to lunch yesterday.”

“You told me,” Jon reminded her, “but did Ana play it cool like you taught her?”

“She didn’t say, but I hope she did,” Kaye paused as she took a sip of her iced tea, “I spent hours last Tuesday trying to teach her to be coy. Gosh, it was like the sort of training I’d have to give my daughter someday.”

“That is, when you finally decide to settle down,” Jon retorted. The coy-ploy was a skill Ana would have picked up in high school and college if she hadn’t had her nose buried in her books. Kaye was right, it was like high school all over again, but damn, this was the most exciting part of his stay in Japan so far. It was like watching a real-life telenovela unfold—and he had front-row seats! Mentally rubbing his hands together in glee, he turned to Kaye, “Tell me again about the dress Nakamura sent.”

“It was lovely. Real classy stuff, Tessa and I were almost drooling!” Kaye answered dreamily. She fished out her mobile phone and showed Jon some photographs she had taken.

“Amazing,” Jon agreed, “and it fits her perfectly!”

“I know—everything from the dress and shoes.” She sighed, “I’d go out with Nakamura if only for that dress.”

Jon grinned, “Of course it doesn’t hurt that he’s good-looking and sexy, right?” Kaye laughed and he continued, “So did our Ana accept the gift without any fuss?”

“Ha! You wish. She wanted to send everything back or at least pay for them. But, you have to hand it to Nakamura,” Kaye answered, waving her fork for emphasis, “he was one step ahead of her. He must’ve figured out that she’d want to return the dress or something so he had all the labels cut out. He left the labels in the shoes, stole, and bag that came with the ensemble, but then, Ana doesn’t know which store to return it to.”

“Hehehe. Well, you have to admit Ana is a bit predictable,” Jon mused as he took a bite of his burger.

Kaye nodded, “The only unpredictable thing she’s done so far was to agree to Nakamura’s plan.”
Jon smiled. Good things sometimes resulted from the craziest of ideas. He reassured Kaye,

“Don’t worry, we can see that it’s working out perfectly so far.”

1 comment:

Kikit said...

I'd go out with Ken Nakamura too for that dress. :)