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Kaye and Tessa were waiting up for her when Ana got back to the apartment. Both of them were sprawled on Tessa’s bed, watching something on TV. When Ana came in, Tessa propped herself up on her elbows abruptly, nearly overturning a bowl of chips. “Cinderella is home!” she squealed.
Ana laughed, “If I’m supposed to be Cinderella, then I should have been here ages ago,” she said as she looked at her watch. It was already past one in the morning.
Kaye turned to look at Ana from where she was sitting. The screen behind her froze as she hit the pause button. Piolo Pascual looked out at them from the TV screen, the shot capturing his anguished expression perfectly. “So, how was it?” she asked.
Ana smiled at them both, her sandals dangling from her fingers and her stole slung recklessly over one shoulder. “It was fun,” she said as she thought about the night that had already taken on a dreamlike quality in her head. She turned to go to her room, “Just give me a minute to get out of this and I’ll join you. What are you guys watching anyway?”
Tessa and Kaye giggled and chorused, “Lobo reruns!”
“I’ll be right back,” Ana said. She hurriedly went into her room and changed into comfortable pajamas then went to the bathroom to wash the battle paint off. She grabbed a bottle of water from the fridge and went to join her friends. Unlike her room and Kaye’s, which were usually neat as pins, Tessa’s room looked like a college dorm room. It was furnished simply with a large airbed that was overflowing with pillows, a low Japanese-style desk where a large computer screen-cum-TV was set up, and a clothes rack that was bursting to the seams with clothes. Tessa loved her clothes. Every other square inch of the room was covered with makeup, romance novels, CDs, discarded clothing, or food. It resembled a warzone. It was the perfect place to relax after a long day’s work.
Neither Kaye nor Ana could explain how this messy room managed to relax them. But Tessa somehow understood and thus managed to ignore their occasional complaints about her room.
When Ana entered, she saw the two girls focused on Angel and Piolo who were having some kind of to-do onscreen. She put down her water bottle and cleared away some of the junk on Tessa’s bed so that she could sit down.
“Just dump everything on the floor,” Tessa murmured, her eyes still glued to the screen.
Ana mock-sighed and carried the clothes over to the hamper, the makeup to the dresser, and the books and CDs to a nearby shelf. “We really have to schedule a clean-up soon you guys,” she said, “It’s beginning to smell in here.”
Tessa paused and began sniffing, “It does not!”
“You have a cold sweetie,” Kaye argued and then shushed them both. They watched in silence for a few minutes than sighed in unison as Piolo took Angel in his arms.
When the scene shifted and showed a subplot of lesser characters, Tessa turned to Ana inquisitively, “Is going out with Ken Nakamura something like going out with Piolo?” she asked.
Her face deadpan, Ana answered, “When Piolo gets back to me on those dates I’ve been begging him to go on with me, I’ll let you know.”
Kaye snorted at Ana’s answer, but Tessa wasn’t about to let the topic drop, “Seriously Ana, how did it feel to go out with an actor?”
Ana idly traced the pattern on Tessa’s futon, she could feel Kaye and Tessa’s eyes on her the whole time. How did it feel, she mused. “It was kind of weird,” she finally managed, “It was like it was happening to someone else and I was just watching from afar.”
Ana thought back to the events of the past night. A couple of months ago, if someone had told her that she would be dating an actor and attending entertainment-related events, she would have laughed in his face and called him demented. But it was actually happening—to her. All her life, her milestones had always been related to her work and research. She had always thought it was more fulfilling than going to endless parties and listening to endless chatter. But tonight had been amazing. It was more than just the clothes and the glamour; it was being with Ken that made the evening enjoyable. If tonight’s performance was anything to go by, then he was certainly an amazing actor, Ana thought. She marveled at how he managed to convey to the group assembled that they were a couple. There was a distinctly proprietary air about him as he maneuvered her from one group to another. Ana was disconcerted by her reaction to it. She had never really been part of a couple before. When she went to a party with a date, she was pretty much left her to fend for herself—she socialized with her friends and he with his. In contrast, having Ken beside her the whole night, with his arm casually draped around her waist, was like having an anchor in the midst of a swirling tide. However, it was more than the niceties of him tending to her—making sure she had a drink, introducing her to people, dancing with her—it was that endearing smile that he gave her that made her feel as if he were proud to have her there by his side.
She turned to Kaye and Tessa, “I thought it’d be like one of those conferences you know?”
“Ann, I think you’re seriously screwed if you thought to find an analogy between meeting stuffy professors at a boring conference to meeting stars at that party you went to tonight,” Kaye said and Tessa started laughing.
Ana threw a cushion at Kaye, “Hahaha,” she retorted, “Ken tried to convince me that it was.”
Kaye raised an eyebrow, “Then he’s screwed too.”
Ana laughed as she related how Ken tried to calm her fears by making the conference analogy. Kaye grudgingly admitted that it was a shrewd tactic. She and Tessa continued to bombard Ana with question after question. Who was there? Who did she meet? How was the food? What were the women wearing? Did she encounter any paparazzi? Did the press swallow the story about her and Ken? Ana answered all of their questions patiently.
After a while, Tessa sighed dramatically, “It’s all like a fairy tale,” she mused.
“The only difference is that in real life, the frog doesn’t always become a prince,” Kaye commented as she munched on a potato chip, “More often than not, it's the prince who becomes a frog.”
Tessa shook her head at her, “I’m seriously worried about you Kaye,” she said, “you need some softness in your life.”
“No way,” Kaye retorted, “I prefer straight and simple romance to a fairy tale.”
“Fairy tales happen in real life too,” Tessa argued, “Look at Ana!”
Kaye sniffed, “That’s play-acting! Its all been scripted from the start.”
“But it could be more!”
“That remains to be seen.”
Ana intervened before the discussion could get out of hand, “I think this discussion is a bit pointless. Tessa, you know that this is little more than a business deal. And Kaye, Ken isn’t the ogre you’re making him out to be,” she stated as she tried to pacify them both.
She yawned and looked at her watch and was surprised to find that it was now almost 3 in the morning, “I don’t know about you two, but I’m going to turn in,” she said as she bid them goodnight.
“There’s just one thing that bothers me about this whole thing,” Tessa began after Ana left.
Kaye stood up and stretched, “Huh? You said it was like a fairy tale,” she reminded.
“I still think so,” Tessa answered, “I feel a happy-ever-after waiting for Ana just around the corner.”
Kaye snorted, “Then what could possibly be bothering you?”
Tessa sighed, “Its just that even in fairy tales, the road to happy-ever-after is never easy. I’m worried about her.”
Tessa looked so forlorn that Kaye smiled and crouched down next to her, “Don’t worry too much,” she told her, “whatever, happens, us fairy godmothers are always here to fix things, right?”
Kaye was rewarded with Tessa’s sunny smile as she said, “Right!”
Go to Chapter 14