20 December 2010
As they drove back to her apartment later that morning, Ana couldn’t imagine how she had survived breakfast with Yoshi and Ken. Although the three of had eaten breakfast as if it was something they did together every day, Ana still felt like the whole thing was like something out of the Twilight Zone.
Ana fiddled with a button of the borrowed shirt she wore. Ken had thoughtfully rummaged in his sister’s drawers for something for her to wear, as the gown of the previous night was quite ruined. Ana was now wearing jeans and a white button-down shirt of Yuki’s.
When Ana had emerged from the bathroom, she found Ken, who had also showered and changed, deep in discussion with Yoshi over how to bring Ana home. She had blanched at the idea that this whole episode could be blown out of proportion by an enterprising reporter who could be camped outside. In the end, it was decided that Yoshi would drive and Ken would sit in front, while Ana ducked in the back until they were well on their way. Ken had wanted to wait for Takashi to bring the van over since the van’s windows were dark, but Ana had balked, not wanting his manager to know that she had spent the night.
It was early afternoon when they finally got to her apartment. Yoshi dropped them off at the foyer while he found a place to park. Ana and Ken were silent as they rode the lift up to the Ana’s floor.
When they got to her door, Ana, who was rummaging in her bag for her keys, started when Ken suddenly turned her to face him.
“You’ve been awfully quiet.” He observed.
She shrugged, “It’s just that this whole thing has gotten so surreal …”
“Really? Which part?”
“Don’t tease,” Ana said, frowning.
She looked so adorably irritated that Ken couldn’t resist gathering her in his arms for a hug, “Well, life with you is never boring at any rate.”
“Ha-ha.” Ana retorted, though she didn’t resist the comfort of his arms, “I keep expecting the sky to fall next.”
“Pessimist.” Ken teased as he leaned back to look at her, “Ne, what else could happen?”
“Hey Ana, is that you?” Tessa called as the door suddenly burst open, “Where have you been? Guess who I found downstairs…”
Still in Ken’s arms, Ana whirled around and was floored to see the identically shocked faces of her parents, behind of course, the equally shocked face of Tessa. She looked up at Ken, pushed him away abruptly and turned to face her parents, “Mom? Dad? What are you doing here?”
“These are your parents?” Ken inquired.
“Yes, they are, uh…” Ana began “Mom, Dad, it isn’t what you’re thinking…” she began.
Her dad’s reddening face resembled a volcano that was about to erupt “Really now? Then kindly explain to us what we ought to think. Two days ago, a Japanese reporter turned up at our house in Cebu. They’ve apparently been doing an investigation on you.”
“They what?” Ana and Ken both got out.
“Yes, and they were quite insistent to find out what we thought of your relationship with…”
A slight cough made them all pause and look at Ana’s mother. “Why don’t you two come in,” she invited in a placid voice, “I don’t think this is a discussion that should be held at one’s doorstep, don’t you think?” She turned and walked back into the living room, followed by her husband, Ana, and Ken.
“Ana?” Her mother said as they sat down on the sofas, “You have not yet introduced us to your companion.”
“Oh, mom and dad, this is Ken Nakamura. Ken, these are my parents,” Ana managed to get out, wringing her hands worriedly. She shot a glance at Tessa, who was still standing at the genkan, her mouth still a perfect little O. No help from that quarter.
Ken stood and shook hands with her mom and dad. “I am very pleased to meet both of you.” He said.
Ana’s father kept a firm grip on Ken’s hand as he tried to size him up. “And who are you exactly in relation to my daughter?” he bit out.
Ken’s smile broadened as he began to answer, “Actually I’m …”
“He’s … he’s … he’s my fiancée.” Ana suddenly announced.
It was suddenly so silent that you could have heard a pin drop. Tessa, Ana’s parents, and Ken simply stared at her.
Then suddenly as if on cue, Ken turned to her dad, “I am sorry you had to find out this way. Ana and I had planned on flying to Cebu next weekend to formally ask your permission, but I guess the cat’s out of the bag.” He said and smiled amiably.
Ana’s parents’ expressions thawed slightly at this. Her mother looked back and forth between the two of them, before finally glancing at Ana’s hands, “But she doesn’t even have a ring!” she exclaimed.
“That’s because we had to get it resized.” Ken explained quickly as he reached for Ana’s hand. “You’ll see it tonight,” he continued, “As I’m hoping you’ll do us the honor of dining with us.”
This, apparently did the trick for Ana’s mom suddenly burst into tears and came to hug both of them. “Oh we would love to! This is wonderful news, isn’t it darling?” She nudged her husband. Hard.
Ana glanced at her father. His face could have been set in stone. He looked stonily at Ken, “What do actors make nowadays?” He asked baldly.
“Dad!” Ana wailed.
But her father ignored her, “I came over here with the intention of paying off the sleazy actor my daughter got involved with,” he said, “I do wonder if you’re the type that could be bought.”
Ken recovered his composure, “I’m not.” He answered.
“Dad, how could you even …”
“When I die, Ana will come into quite a fortune of her own,” her father told him, “Were you aware of that?”
“No I wasn’t,” Ken answered, “I’m not marrying her for her money.” He assured the other man with a smile, “Please don’t worry, I’ve got enough to support us both.”
“Have you slept with my daughter?”
“Ana, I am your father and I have the right to ask him this,” Ana’s father shot back and then barked at Ken, “Well, have you?”
Ken smiled yet again, “If I did I wouldn’t tell you. It is entirely our own business. But please rest assured that I only have the highest respect and affection for Ana and that I really do intend to marry her.”
“Daddy!” Ana shouted as she got up and faced her father, “Now you listen to me, you have no right to interrogate Ken like this! I’m not a child and you can’t fob me off on your friends’ sons anymore. I am of age and I will marry whomever I want! Now if you don’t like that, you can get back on a plane to Cebu right now because I’m not talking to you until you stop treating me like this!”
Everyone was staring at Ana again. Ken even had the audacity to wink at her.
Her father stared at Ken for a long minute before harrumphing and said, “I don’t believe in long engagements.”
“Da-ad!” Ana wailed yet again, but Ken grabbed hold of her hand and urged her to sit next to him.
“I don’t either,” Ken answered. “I was hoping to convince Ana to marry in two months’ time.”
“Wha- what?” Ana turned disbelievingly to Ken, she was glad he was game, but this was taking the farce more than one step too far.
“Two months? Oh, that’s not enough time to plan everything,” Ana’s mother protested. “We have to call the caterers and photographers, have the gowns and invitations made, and inform all our relatives.”
Ken turned to Ana and smiled, “Well sweetheart, I’d rather not wait, but if you’d really like a grand wedding…”
“No! I mean yes I do want a nice wedding but…” Ana wailed, “Mom, Dad, why don’t we talk this over first. Our schedules are both quite packed at the moment…”
“I’d be happy to clear my schedule for you,” Ken said and Ana gave him a murderous stare.
“Oh, alright. We have two months at least,” Ana’s mother declared. Then she suddenly stood and reached for her bag. She walked over to the couch, emptied the contents of the bag on it, and then hurriedly rummaged through the spilled contents.
“Mom, what in the world are you looking for?” Ana asked, still trying to think of a way out of this situation.
“My phone,” her mother explained as she found it and turned it on. She looked through her planner and began dialing a series of numbers.
“We don’t have to tell everybody about it yet…”Ana protested, but trailed off when her mom lapsed into Cebuano. Ana felt the blood drain from her face as she realized that her mom was arranging for the Cebu Cathedral and the ballroom at the Mariott in Mactan to be blocked on a weekend roughly two months from today. She was also directing Coring, her secretary, to contact photographers and couturiers and caterers and to Fedex a bundle to them tomorrow. She even had Coring call both her sister and Ana’s godmother to tell them the news. “There, that’s that.” She said as she ended the call. “Coring will arrange everything with the church and the hotel…” she explained, “…and between Auntie Jackie and your Ninang Mildred, everyone in Cebu will be notified by the end of the week.”
Ana was close to panic, “But mom…”
Her mom turned to face her suddenly, “Don’t tell me you didn’t want to get married in Cebu?” she asked.
“Of course I’d rather get married in Cebu, but…”
“Is there a problem with having the wedding in Cebu?” she asked Ken instead, “Would you rather have a traditional Japanese wedding?”
“I would rather that Ana be able to celebrate it with the people she loves,” he replied.
Her mother beamed at him, “That’s lovely. Now let’s all sit down and get to know each other. Ana,” she gestured to her daughter, “where are your manners? Get us some coffee and biscuits. Come Dad, enough of that glowering,” she admonished. “Now dears,” she said as they all sat down, “Have you given any thought as to the theme?”
12 December 2010
Juggling a couple of paper bags in his arms, Yoshi entered in the security code that would let him into the genkan at Ken’s apartment. A beep sounded as the code was accepted and the doors swished open to accommodate him. As he headed towards the elevators, he took a swig of hot coffee, and hoped that Ken was in a good enough mood to talk to him.
Based on the state of Hide when he had managed to crawl back to the party, Ken had been furious last night. And when Ken was in that state, anything could happen. Kaye and Jon assured him that Ana could hold her own in any shouting match, but Yoshi was worried that Ken might have said something to permanently damage the relationship. And more than anything, Yoshi wanted their relationship to continue. Ana was good for his friend; Ken needed happiness in his life, and Ana made him smile.
He just hoped that Ken and Ana, with their mercurial tempers, hadn’t broken up already when Ken had taken her back to her apartment last night.
Yoshi sighed. If Ken were smart, he would soon make this stupid pretend relationship a real thing, he thought. And who else to push him towards the right direction but his best friend? Yoshi was grinning as he contemplated his tactics. When he reached Ken’s place, he inserted the spare electronic card key that Ken had entrusted to him and sauntered into the apartment.
Yoshi deposited the paper bags on the dining table and rummaged in one for a doughnut. With the doughnut in his mouth, he turned the coffee percolator on. He glanced at the sun streaming in through the open windows of the living room. The weather looked enticing. Maybe he’d ask Ken to go cycling with him. Yes indeed, fresh air was exactly what Ken needed to relax him and open his mind to the possibilities. Maybe a two-hour trip to Gunma to cycle in the Ashikaga area would revive Ken’s spirits.
As he turned to the sink to wash his hands, he noticed two plates, two teacups, and a kettle of now-cold tea at the bottom of the sink. He dried his hands and walked over to the living room, as he stooped to pick up the TV remote, he noticed a bottle of water and two glasses on the coffee table. Yoshi stopped cold as the realization hit him.
There was two of everything.
His friend was not alone.
Yoshi raked his hair off his head and bit his lip. His first thought was to get the hell out of here and leave Ken to wallow in this mess of his making, but the more stubborn instincts of a friend kicked in and he decided to give Ken a piece of his mind. He knew that Ken wanted Ana, perhaps even loved her, and if he did, he ought to have done something about it instead of screwing around on her, pretend girlfriend or not.
He headed straight to Ken’s bedroom and opened the door gingerly. Sure enough, the lump in the middle of the bed was too big to be made by one person. Practically steaming at the ears, he decided to give them a morning greeting they’d both remember. He went to the foot of the bed, grabbed hold of the futon, and yanked. Hard. He managed to get the futon half off the bed and shouted, “Ne, minna! Okinasai! Get up and face the music!”
Ken, who was still clad in jeans and a t-shirt rubbed his eyes sleepily. Surprisingly, the woman he was with was clad in over-large pajamas, not exactly the sexiest nightwear in Yoshi’s opinion. Her face was buried in the crook of Ken’s embrace.
Ken sat up, rubbed his eyes, and stared at this friend incredulously, “Yoshi, what the hell do you think you’re doing?”
Yoshi looked at his best friend and scowled, “Me? What do you think you’re doing? For once you get together with a decent girl and now…” he broke off as the figure beside Ken stirred. Ken bent down and murmured soothingly to her. Suddenly, as if she sensed something was amiss, she stiffened and slowly looked up into Ken’s face and then guiltily into Yoshi’s.
Yoshi wished the floor would open up and swallow him whole. He was looking into the wide, brown, and highly embarrassed eyes of Ana. Over the years, he had seen Ken in situations far more compromising than this, but somehow, the intimacy of the moment had Yoshi blushing like a schoolboy.
She closed her eyes for a split second and then she snatched up the futon that lay at their feet and struggled to sit up, “It’s … it’s not as it seems, we … nothing happened … we just slept …” she stammered out as she cast around for the robe she had discarded last night. “I was sleeping … and Ken …”
“Yoshi,” Ken said ever so politely, “would you mind giving us a moment of privacy?”
Yoshi turned towards the door at once, mumbling about getting breakfast ready as he stumbled out the door.
Ken turned towards Ana who was now standing by the bed, shrugging into the robe she had found on the floor. “Ana,” Ken began, but she rushed past him, murmuring something about the bathroom only seconds before she shut herself in.
Ken knocked at the door, “Ana are you alright?”
Inside, Ana leaned her head against the cool mirrored surface of the door and answered, “No I am most definitely not.”
“Let me in,” he cajoled.
“No. That has to be the most embarrassing this that has ever happened to me,” she wailed. “I wish I could stay in this bathroom forever and forget anything ever happened.”
“Open this door sweetheart or I’ll break it down.”
Ana reluctantly turned the lock and opened the door a fraction. Ken stepped in. To Ana’s surprise, he swept her into his arms for a hug. “Ana, look at me,” he said after a while and she slowly raised her eyes to his. He took her chin in his hand and gave her a tender kiss, “Nothing actually happened, you know.”
“Yes, but Yoshi thinks …”
“Does it really matter what Yoshi thinks?”
She let out a sigh, this was definitely getting complicated. “It’s not that, its just that I’m not … I don’t usually do this…”
He raised a brow, “You think I do this all the time?”
“No, no,” she said, obviously rattled, “I mean I’m just not used to … I haven’t really …”
He smiled down at her. For some reason it gave him a perverse sort of satisfaction knowing that he could do this to her. That he could reduce a confident, self-assured, sassy, and intelligent woman to someone who couldn’t even finish her sentences.
“Ana, we are both adults and we are in a relationship,” he told her firmly.
“We are in a pretend relationship,” she corrected, stressing the word pretend.
He leaned back and looked down at her again, a smile playing around his mouth, “So we were pretending to sleep together. Unless of course…”
“Well, unless you want to sleep with me for real?” he teasingly asked.
Ken shrugged nonchalantly, “We could make an experiment of it.”
“A-a-an experiment?!” Ana parroted. Hazy, sensual images of her and Ken naked and entwined flashed in her mind and she felt a blush creep up her face.
Quelling a grin, Ken nodded solemnly at her, “I thought you’d like the idea, being an academic and all that.” Ana stood there, her mouth opening and closing, like a fish out of water, albeit a bute fish, Ken thought as he took advantage of her distracted state. He put his hands on the counter on either side of her and leaned in closer, effectively trapping her. “Think about it,” he said as he turned to leave, “Oh and Ana?”
“Since we’re on the subject of learning …” Ana’s mind went blank as Ken’s mouth swooped down on hers for a passionate kiss. Her legs felt like jelly by the time he released her.
He smiled at her bemused look. “There, I’ve just shown you how I wanted to be greeted in the morning. Good morning sweetheart.” With a wicked smile he closed the door behind him.
Ana sank down to the floor. The tiles were very cold against her over-heated flesh. “Omigod, I’m in big trouble.”
09 December 2010
Ana opened the door a crack and surveyed the room. It seemed empty. She emerged from the bathroom clutching at a large fluffy white robe that engulfed her from head to toe.
She inspected a pair of pajamas on the bed that Ken had probably laid them out for her. They were overly large for her frame, but they were clean and dry. And after all, what choice did she have, Ana thought as she trotted back to the bathroom with the pajamas in tow. It wasn’t as if she had anything more suitable to wear — her dress had been drenched in the sudden downpour.
Although the night air had been balmy, she and Ken had stood in the rain far too long and Ana had been chilled to the bone when they got to his apartment. When Ana had started sneezing, Ken had ordered her into the shower, while he grumbled about her cavalier attitude towards her health. Duh. As if he hadn’t been sopping wet himself. She would have protested his high-handedness — after all, no one appreciated being dictated to like a child — but she had been too cold.
She looked at her reflection in the large mirror that hung above the sink as she buttoned the pajama top up. Her face was scrubbed clean of makeup and her hair clung to her scalp in riotous wet ringlets.
This had been a really weird night.
Ana felt as if she had gone through a whole range of emotions in the span of a couple of hours; First she had been excited at the prospect of seeing Ken again, then Takashi had brought her down to earth by reminding her that it was all a “business arrangement.” Then instead of enjoying the concert, she had spent the whole time fuming, partly because of what that darned woman in Ken’s dressing room had insinuated, but mostly because Ken had been a pig. She was further infuriated at the party when that woman had tried her best to drape herself over Ken. And the damned man hadn’t even minded. Ana had had a brief respite at the park with Hide — before he terrified her with his amorous advances, that is. She had been relieved when Ken had stopped Hide, but she was incensed at his assumption that she couldn’t have handled the situation.
Then there had been that kiss.
Ana wasn’t the type who swore often, but it seemed fitting. Damn. That kiss had been something else.
She closed her eyes and shook her head. No, no, no. Hindi ako dapat kiligin, hindi ako dapat kiligin, she repeated in her head as she donned the clothes.
When Ana finally emerged, Ken, who was in the kitchen, offered her hot tea. In companionable silence, they both lounged in the dining room, sipping their tea.
Ken looked up, “For what?”
“For rescuing me,” Ana couldn’t quite meet his gaze, “Not that I couldn’t have handled it myself,” she mumbled. But she was grateful anyway.
She looked up to see Ken smiling at her across the table. She smiled back.
“It wasn’t a problem, you’re my girlfriend, remember?”
“Pretend girlfriend,” she corrected.
“Right, so I’m pretending to be your boyfriend.”
“Honto ni?” Ana said as she regarded Ken in disbelief, “Then what were you doing with that woman?”
“That was a mistake … a misunderstanding really,” Ken grimaced. “She wasn’t … we weren’t …”
“Well, if you weren’t what the hell was she doing semi-naked in your dressing room?”
“She was what?”
“When I went to your dressing room in answer to your summons, I found her there,” Ana told him, “As if she had a right to be there.”
“Nan de nan de, are you jealous?”
“Of course not!”
“Usooo! Not even a little?”
“Oh, I’m just pretending to be jealous for your benefit,” Ana told him airily, “After all, for someone who’s pretending to be my boyfriend, I haven’t seen much of you in the past weeks.”
“Gomen, I was busy …” Ken prevaricated.
“Oh yes, too busy for me, but not too busy for that … that bimbo!”
So much for companionable silence.
“Well, you were busy too,” Ken countered heatedly.
Yeah, Ana thought, busy checking my phone every other minute to check if you've called.
“I mean,” Ken continued, “you couldn't have noticed my absence much, not with Dan around.”
“Eeee?! What do you mean?” she asked, crossing her arms over her chest.
“Well, I assumed that since you’ve been holding hands and playing lovey-dovey with him, you’d have been too preoccupied to miss me.”
“Holding hands? With Dan?” Ana stared at him incredulously, “Have you had too much to drink?”
“I saw you Ana.”
“Saw me where?” Ana wanted to start pulling her hair out, this conversation was insane!
Ken didn't like where the conversation was headed, but he went on, “I saw you and Dan having dinner one night, you seemed to be having too much fun so I didn't interrupt.”
“Huh? When was this?”
“A couple of weeks ago …” Ken stood up and raked his hands through his hair.
Suddenly, Ana remembered what Ken saw. “It’s not what it seemed,” she told him.
“It’s really nothing,” he said, trying to brush the whole thing off, “I dropped by to see if you wanted to have dinner, but you were busy and so I took off.”
“No, Ken, let me explain,” Ana stood up and walked over to him, “Dan and I did have dinner together that night, and he did clasp my hand, but it wasn't anything romantic. He was simply trying to convince me to… to…” she suddenly broke off, turned away and cleared her throat,
“Dan has invited me to join him in Texas; he’s been offered a job. He’s leaving in a couple of months and he wants to continue our research there.”
Ken felt something icy grip his heart, “And will you go?”
“I ... I’m not sure,” Ana answered, “The offer is really good, and the research is right in my line, but … but there’s still a lot to do over here and I …” she cleared her throat again, “I haven’t really decided.”
Ken hadn’t realized he had been holding his breath. He let it out slowly.
Nothing was definite, he told himself. She wasn't going anywhere.
It was then that Ken came to a realization: somehow during all the weeks and months of plotting, scheming, and pretending, it had happened. He had finally met someone who was essential to his existence. He had found someone who made him happy. He had found someone who didn't cower from him. He had found an equal.
After all this time, after years of trying to avoid it, he had finally fallen in love.
She can’t go. He wouldn't let her.
“You have to stay,” he found himself telling her.
“Why?” She turned to face him. “There’s really nothing that’s holding me here…”
“There’s your work … your friends …” he argued.
She smiled sadly, “I could still have those in Texas.”
“There’s me,” Ken said, his voice barely a whisper.
Ana stared at him in shocked silence for what seemed an eternity. Then she laughed, it sounded
hollow, even to her own ears. “That’s taking this pretense too far, isn’t it?”
Ken’s heart sank, but his acting skills rose to the fore, “We could always make the relationship for real you know,” he suggested flippantly, smiling at her.
This time Ana laughed in earnest. “You are impossible,” she told him. But a little part of her heart crumbled. Ken wasn't serious. He couldn't be serious. Why had he even suggested it?
Because he wasn’t falling for her … or was he?
“Don’t worry, I’ll still be here a while longer,” she said, turning away from him. She gathered their cups, and put them in the sink. “There’s still time for you to find someone suitable to replace me. Just not that bimbo,” she warned, turning back to wag a finger at him, “you could do way better.” She sighed, “Yes, there’s still time.”
“Indeed there is,” Ken agreed. There’s still time to make you fall in love with me, he thought. He suddenly smiled and walked over to her, “So what do you want to do? Do you want to turn in or shall we do something else?”
“Yes. We could watch a movie, sing karaoke, or chat,” he answered, “Or if you like, we could make out on the couch like teenagers,” he added mischievously. Ana gave him an exasperated look and he started laughing.
“I’m glad I manage to amuse you,” she said, drying her hands, “Now, what about watching one of your movies?”
“Eeee? Honto ni? You want to watch my movies?” he asked delightedly.
She smiled, “Sure, you’re my pretend boyfriend, I should know more about your work. And I bet,” she added with a sly sideways look at him, “That you’re dying to show them off to me”
“How’d you guess?”
They settled themselves on the sofa, and Ken brought out some DVDs for Ana to select from.
She picked a romantic comedy, Ima Anata ni, one of Ken’s earlier movies. Halfway through the movie though, Ken realized that Ana was more tired than she had let on, after she fell asleep at the other end of the sofa. Amused that the movie had put her to sleep, he tried to wake her. When she mumbled groggily, he smiled, scooped her up, and carried her into his room. She’d be more comfortable there, he thought. Although there was another bedroom, which he kept for the use of his sister when she was in town, he had been using it as a storage room, and it was pretty messy.
He laid Ana on the bed and sat down beside her, staring down at her prone form. He liked seeing her here, in his bed, he thought possessively. In sleep, Ana had shed her bossy mantle. She looked soft and biddable. And sexy, Ken gulped as he noticed the top button of her pajamas had come undone. Unaware of the direction of his thoughts, Ana let out an inelegant little snort and turned on her side. Ken grinned as he put his feet up and lay next to her. He smiled and savored the moment; I’ll just watch her for a few minutes, he thought as he stifled a yawn. Just a few more minutes, then I’ll transfer to the sofa, he thought as he slowly drifted to sleep.
In the middle of the night, Ana awoke to find an unfamiliar arm around her waist. She turned sleepily and realized that Ken had fallen asleep beside her. Groggily, she made an attempt to disengage herself, but even in his sleep, Ken tightened his embrace. She looked at him as he slept peacefully beside her and decided to let him be. After all, she thought as she snuggled even deeper into his arms, it was just for tonight and no one else was here. Sleeping with Ken was something she could easily get used to, Ana thought as she drifted off to sleep.
Read Chapter 25!
29 July 2010
Reading was never a forced activity for me; I have always loved to read. When I was little, I loved being read to before going to bed. My lolo finally set a quota of 2 books (the books were fairly short and loaded with pictures) per night because his throat had started to hurt and he had to have a glass of water nearby. I have always loved children's fairy tales, but i was lucky enough to have enjoyed a wide variety of reading materials. My parents and grandparents love to read too, and lolo had subscriptions to readers digest and national geographic which got me interested in art, architecture and archaeology. Mama and lola were into romances, which I was barred from reading (but finally got through to in high school), papa was into classics, thrillers and political novels and my cousins were into comic books.
2. Which three books have most changed your life (in a practical, tangible way)?
- since the emphasis was put on practical and tangible, the first thing I thought about were the SRAs. I know they're not really books per se, but they trained me to better my reading speed and comprehension.
- Intentions in Architecture by Christian Norberg-Schulz. Readings on architectural theory weren't required at uni and this book helped open my eyes to the nuances expressed by forms (sorry, nerdy segue)
- Phd comics by Jorge Cham, because they showed me that I'm not the only insane person on this planet.
3. Which three books (outside of the Bible) have most shaped your thoughts on God?
I don't really read religious literature, but have always loved reading about the lives of saints. I remember, when I was a kid I had Christian picture books about Jesus when He was young; these somehow made me feel closer to Him. Oh, and I particularly remember the comic book on the life of Delia Tetrault (which was kind of required reading at school).
4. Which book(s), if any, have you intentionally read more than once?
I read all my books more than once. Juls even says I discuss them as if they really happened (affected!) I particularly remember re-reading the Prodigal Daughter and As the Crow Flies, both by Jeffrey Archer. During my dissertation I re-read Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead (feeling!) for inspiration. And I can practically recite all the Harry Potter books.
5. Which three books would you recommend to someone who's looking for something to read?
Depends. What is he/she interested in?
6. Which three books do you plan to have your kids read?
The Chronicles of Narnia (To inspire their imagination)
Tell Me Why - The Answers to Hundreds of Questions Children ask (To arouse their curiosity and challenge them to figure things out)
I think I'll save Harry Potter for when they're a bit older.
7. Books that stand out in your family
I can't think of one singular book that defines my family since we all love to read and have different tastes.
Juls and I however have, since the Da Vinci Code, become addicted to books with period settings, that focus on architecture and art, like those of Ross King or the Sahdow of the Wind by Carlos Zafon. We also love fantasy books, although my tastes run to the lighter side of the genre.
8. A book that made you cry
The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks was a particular tearjerker.
But I cry over books (and movies, and commercials) easily. I even cry whenever I read Judith Mcnaught's A Kingdom of Dreams or her Almost Heaven.
9. A book that scared you
Hands-down, its The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. I still haven't met anyone who's finished the damned thing. Melba is giving it a try now.
10. A book that made you laugh
The Pugad Baboy series by Pol Medina. Whenever I read one I just cannot stop laughing. Sometimes on the train some Japanese edge away from me, thinking I'm a crazy person (I am, but that's another story altogether)
11. A book that disgusted you
Okay, this is really weird, but what first popped into my mind were memories of going through an edition of National Geographic when I was younger that was devoted to the internal organs (complete with full page, full color pictures of bloody masses).It was a scientific article of course, but it completely swore me off ever becoming a doctor.
Ooooh and One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. That was just sad.
12. A book you loved in elementary/primary school
Nerdy, but I loved the book Tell me Why and the compilation of Johnny Wonder clippings my mom kept for me.
I also remember the book The Three Billy Goats Gruff (Little Golden Treasures edition) was the first ever book I read. well, not exactly, I had lolo read it to me so many times that I managed to memorize the whole thing and surprised everybody one day by reciting the book to them. I was three or four. Go figure ;-)
13. A book you loved in middle school (yrs 5, 6, 7, 8 )
I loved the Nancy Drew series and tried to collect as much as I could. I also loved Archie comics and Pippi Longstocking.
14. A book you loved in high school
Heehee. aaminin ko na. I read Sweet Valley Twins and Sweet Valley High. My friends were into Sweet Dreams, but I liked the continuity of the Sweet Valley series. I also discovered Marvel comics at this time.
15. A book you loved in college
I discovered romances in college (read: bodice-rippers), the works: Lindsey, Mcnaught, Garwood, my mom's entire Mills and Boon collection. I even read the book where she got my name; it was titled the Unwanted Wife (scary!)
16. Any more favorites?
The Harry Potter series
The Brothers Grimm
The Mythology Class by Arnold Arre
the Modern Language of Architecture by Bruno Zevi
Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture by Robert Venturi
Phd Comics by Jorge Cham
A Study on Bipolarity in the Architecture of Leandro V. Locsin by CPSanti (wahahahah! sorry, couldn't resist)
17. What are you currently reading?
I'm now reading the Julia Quinn's Bridgerton series, bits and pieces of Martin Heidegger's Being and Time, while trying to wade through Ken Follett's Pillars of the Earth.
18. What’s your family reading?
Last time I checked, the hubby was reading Super Freakonomics and キンダーム manga. P-chan is currently enamored of his cloth book.
07 July 2010
Ana took a deep breath and the balmy night air filled her lungs. She sat down on a wooden bench and felt the silence of the night envelop her. She sighed, it was a relief to escape the smoky rooms and the pulsating electronic beat of the party.
“Thanks for coming with me,” Ana told Hide as he sat down beside her, “It was all getting to be a bit too much for me.”
They had gone through a discreet side exit, some dimly lit shop fronts, a row of cars, a couple of vending machines, a narrow strip of road, before they emerged into the small, tree-lined square Hide had told her about. Lampposts and benches lined its perimeter, it provided a fitting respite from the chaos they had emerged from.
As they sat in silence, Ana glanced around. The park was deserted. And although the corner to which Hide had guided her was darker than most, she didn’t mind — the last thing she wanted was for someone to see her in distress. It was certainly humid out here, she thought. She lifted her face up and saw that dark clouds had hid the moon. She belatedly remembered that the weather report had predicted rain later in the evening.
Ana sadly wondered what Ken was doing, and an image of him dancing with that girl flashed in her mind. He had certainly been enjoying himself, she thought. What the hell does he see in that little slut? Ana mentally shook her head, she thought she knew Ken, but it turned out that she didn't know him at all. All of a sudden, Ana wasn’t sad anymore. She was fuming mad. How dare he, she thought, how dare he put me through this. This wasn’t part of our arrangement at all. And how dare he make me feel this way. This was supposed to be a clear-cut arrangement, and she mentally berated herself for thinking that there was a chance that it could develop into much more.
Ana shook her head. She thought she had been living a fairy tale, Kaye was right, fairy tales only happened in books and anyone who thought otherwise was a fool. Everything had been just a dream.
But what a dream it had been, Ana thought and smiled wryly.
She shook herself out of her musing and turned to her companion. She was disconcerted to see that he was watching her intently. “Nan de,” she asked nervously, “What is it? Why are you looking at me like that?” She started in surprise when Hide drew nearer.
“You’re really pretty, Ana-san,” he said and brushed a lock off her face.
“Ano, Hide-san,” Ana edged back as she breathed in the alcohol fumes that emanated from her companion, “I think we should get back to the party, people might be looking for us. Ne, ikimashou ka?”
Hide leaned in even further. “It was really bad of Ken-san not to pay you proper attention.”
Ana was alarmed when she felt the armrest of the bench at her back. She jumped up and decided to head back to the party, but to her dismay, Hide caught hold of her wrist and backed her into one of the lampposts. “Hide, you’ve had too much to drink…” she said, remembering Yoshi’s half joking warning about his band mate turning amorous only after a few drops of alcohol.
Ana’s panic escalated when Hide pressed his body to hers. “I think I really like you, Ana-san,” he said, “and I’m a much better kisser than Ken-san.”
“I … uh … I’ll take your word for it,” Ana stammered out, a part of her brain thinking that she wouldn't have any basis for comparison anyway. Ken had never kissed her.
“Sou ne,” Hide assented, “demo, let me prove it to you.”
“No, I … chotto matte,” Ana got out as Hide moved in.
It all happened so quickly. Ana had turned her face away and braced herself to bring her knee forcibly up Hide’s groin, just as Kaye had taught her and Tessa. Her knee was halfway there, when he suddenly gone. Ana blinked and looked up to see Ken, his legs braced apart and hands fisted, towering over Hide’s prone form. Hide was sprawled on the stone pavement, apparently knocked out cold.
Ken raised furious eyes to hers and she inwardly quailed. Oh man, she thought, this was so not happening. It was just her luck. What else could go wrong?
The first few drops of rain fell as Ken started towards her. Ana looked left and right, trying to find a quick escape. He was in front of her in a flash, pinning her to the same lamppost Hide had. Frantically, Ana wondered if she should try to knee Ken. He seemed to have read her thoughts and said quietly, “I wouldn’t try that if I were you.”
Ana decided to go on the offensive, “What are you doing here?” she cried, “Have you been spying on me?”
Ken looked at her incredulously, “Spying on you? Baka! I just saved you!”
“Saved me?” Ana cried, “Did I ask you to save me?”
“Are you saying that you asked him to kiss you?”
“So what if I did?”
Ken goggled at her in disbelief, he shouted, “Why the hell would you do that?!”
“Oh, I don’t know,” Ana shouted back, “Maybe because I got tired of waiting for you to kiss me!”
They both froze.
Oh shit, Ana thought, what the hell did I just say?
Wow, Ken thought, did she just say what I think she said?
Ken stepped closer, and Ana squinted up at him as his wide shoulders blocked out the light from the lamp above. The rain was coming down harder and they were both almost drenched.
“You were waiting for me to kiss you?” he asked, his voice much softer than it had been.
“Well, not exactly,” she hedged, looking down, “its not exactly that I was waiting for you to kiss me per se, its just that …”
But the rest of her sentence was cut off as Ken tipped her chin up and bent his head. Ana felt her eyes close of their own volition.
Ken cradled Ana’s face in his hand. His heart was beating faster than usual as he considered her upturned face. This was just like a scene out of one of his movies, but then, Ana was just so different from all the other women that he had kissed before. She was strong, honest, and courageous, but she was also very vulnerable and fragile. She was special. And so he kissed her the way he thought she would want him to — a gentle kiss, his lips softly tasting her own.
He smiled and lifted his head as he ended the kiss.
She opened one eye and then the other, and looked at him strangely.
“Is that it?”
Of all the things he expected her to say, it was definitely not this. In answer, he raised a brow at her.
“Don’t get me wrong,” she said quickly, sounding a bit perplexed, “it was a very nice kiss, it’s just that…”
“Hai?” Ken could not believe this conversation!
She shook her head, she couldn't believe she was actually saying this, “Well, I don’t know, I guess I was expecting fireworks — or at least something more...” She took a deep breath, “Don't get me wrong, it was a very nice kiss,” she said, trying to placate him. Only it seemed the sort of kiss that was choreographed, she thought, the kind that you saw at the end of a scene in a j-dorama, not the kind borne out of spontaneous passion. But then, she thought sadly, maybe she wasn’t the type of woman who inspired passionate embraces.
She glanced up at him, “Seriously, it was alright,” she said reassuringly, as if she thought his feelings might be hurt.
Ken almost smiled as he watched the play of emotions upon Ana’s expressive face. Just when he thought he had her figured out, she surprised him. His Ana was definitely one of a kind. He decided to throw all caution to the wind and kiss her the way he really wanted to.
He stepped closer and assured her, “Mada owattenai yo, I was just getting started,” he said as he gathered her to him.
Ana saw something primitive in his eyes only a second before she felt his arms close around her. She tried to jerk back, but suddenly his mouth was on hers, hot and persuasive, coaxing her to respond. His tongue lapped insistently at her closed lips, forcing them to open and accommodate him, when she did, he groaned and plunged his tongue into her mouth, tasting her as he had always wanted to.
And she thought she had wanted fireworks, Ana vaguely reflected. She was amazed that she didn't go up in flames on the spot. Ken’s kiss was more than just fireworks — it was thunder and lighting, elemental in its effect on her, and yet … and yet there was something tender in his embrace, as if he really cared for her. However, her ability to think was slowly stripped away as jolt after jolt of excitement rushed through her veins as Ken continued to kiss her. Until, unable to control herself, she put her arms up around his neck and shyly started kissing him back.
Ken’s response was immediate, he gathered her more tightly to him. She tasted sweet, he thought, fruity — like she had just had one of those cocktails. He knew that this wasn’t the time or place, but she was just so sweet, her mouth so intoxicating, that he just couldn't help himself. A tiny warning signal at the edge of his brain was telling him that things were spiraling out of control and that he was getting more involved than he had originally planned, but still his arms snaked more tightly around her, pressing her to him, as if trying to absorb her. In response, Ana’s body turned soft and pliant in his arms. Ken groaned low in his throat, this definitely wasn’t what he had planned, he thought as he nuzzled her neck and gently caressed the side of her breast.
Ana thought she would have melted into a puddle at Ken’s feet if he had not been holding her up. Nothing could have prepared her for such an assault on her senses. She felt as if she were floating on a sea of sensation, unable to string together a coherent thought, totally lost to the moment. A tiny moan escaped her lips as Ken began to nuzzle lower on her neck.
It was that tiny sound that broke the sensual spell.
Ken dragged his mouth from hers with supreme effort, disconcerted to discover for the first time that he had let all his defenses down, and that he was panting like some untried boy. What the hell just happened? In all his relationships, however provocative his consorts had been, he had never ever lost control. He glanced down at Ana, who also seemed incapable of speech, her breathing as labored as his own. What was it about this woman that robbed him of all ability to think rationally?
“Ana, we need to talk,” he said. As she continued to stare up at him, he took hold of her hand and began to lead her towards his car.
“Wait,” she protested, “what about Hide?”
Irritated, Ken glanced at the man sprawled a few yards from them, “What about him?”
“Well, we can’t just leave him there.”
Well, we’re definitely not taking him with us, he thought. “He’s a big boy, he’ll wake up in a few minutes,” he told Ana. Privately, he thought that it wouldn't be the first time this had happened to Hide. He exerted pressure on her hand and she started walking with him.
They were nearing his car when Ana froze in her tracks. Ken turned back to look at her.
“What about her?” she asked in a small voice.
“Her?” Ken said in bewilderment.
“You know who I’m talking about,” she told him, “Your little dance partner.”
We’re not taking her with us either, Ken thought. He studied Ana, her brow was furrowed and her eyes were shooting daggers at him. Was she jealous? He smiled as he realized that the thought appealed to him.
Ana frowned at him, “What are you smiling about?”
“You,” he said and planted a quick kiss on her lips. He was pleased that he had managed to render her speechless once again, and took the opportunity to shepherd her into his car.
Ken got into the driver’s seat and revved up the engine. As he backed out of his parking space, she asked him, “Where are we going?”
He glanced at her, her eyes boring into hers, “I’m taking you home. We have much to talk about.”
“You’re going in the wrong direction,” she said after a few minutes.
“No. I am going in the right direction.”
“But my apartment is over there,” she gestured towards the rear end of the car, where he had missed a turn.
“I wasn’t going to take you there,” he said, “I’m taking you to my home. It’s much closer.”
“No arguments on this Ana,” he cut her off, “I’m wet and tired and so are you, I’m not in any state to argue with you.”
“But what will people think?” she asked worriedly, biting on her lip.
He smiled, “I don’t think the paparazzi is out on a night like this, do you?”
Ana started to smile back when she suddenly sneezed loudly. Ken’s dark eyes bore through hers, “We’d best get you out of those clothes quick.”
In spite of being drenched through, his words made her flush. Then she mentally shook her head, Boba, nothing is going to happen. As if.
Read Chapter 24!
28 June 2010
Hi guys! As I've done with Ana and Ken, here's Kaye's character profile. She's actually one of my fave characters in the series. Hope you like her too ;-)
Name: Katrina Maghari
Nickname: Kaye, Kat
Birthday: 22 November 1980
Zodiac sign: Scorpio
Color: Blue (but secretly likes pink)
Eyes and Hair: Brown eyes; Long, wavy, black hair
Height: 168 cm
Body type: full-figured; think: coke bottle with oomph (although she has to exercise a lot to keep in shape)
Food: lots of meat and veggies; steak with pinakbet, qwek-qwek, potato chips, adobo and ginisang munggo, dies for danggit, chocolate ice cream, alcohol (is that even a food group?)
Occupation: Manager at a Japanese executive headhunting firm
Interests: Badminton, running, shopping, clubbing, cooking up a storm at home, going out with people
Dislikes: brats like Marga, bossy and domineering people (people a bit like herself actually), cheats and swindlers
Family: Family based in Manila; the eldest of 5 siblings; Dad (Jose) used to be a construction worker, but now runs his own small hardware store, Mom (Lina) is a housewife, brothers Jose Jr. and Kris are IT engineers, sister Jessie is a college sophomore, and youngest Celeste is in highschool.
Inspiration behind Kaye’s character:
Kaye's a regular "Tetsu no onna" or iron lady.
Kaye’s character is inspired by the dozens of students whom I’ve met in Tokyo, who are all working hard to better their (and their family’s) circumstances. Most of the people who come to Japan for Masters or Phds end up going back home to work at universities, but some choose to stay and enter the Japanese workforce (especially students in the vocational and technical high school programs). These are the people who, aside from spending hours studying, have taken the time to learn the language and customs of their host country and are equipped to adapt to working in it.
Kaye is the same. Her family isn’t as wealthy as Ana’s or Jon’s but she’s got loads of ambition. She believes that people get what they work for and thus dislikes lazy people or those who complain about their lot without doing anything. Kaye loves bullying people into doing what she thinks is right, but dislikes being dictated to.
She has a very cynical nature, and tries very hard to squash down her innate romanticism. Unlike Ana, who has led a rather chaste existence in Tokyo, Kaye is a player. She loves dating and meeting new people. However, she has very high standards and gets disappointed when the men she dates don’t live up to them. She also dislikes dishonesty and cheating in relationships, and is quite unforgiving when she finds out that someone is such.
What I like most about Kaye’s character is that she’s got a lot of heart (although she works hard to maintain a bato-bato image). Typically Scorpio, she’s intensely loyal and protective towards her friends and she’ll scratch the eyes out of anyone who crosses them. She also spends part of her time volunteering for a thousand and one causes and trying to get the local Filipino community organized. She forever complains about people and politics, but her inner idealism makes her strive to continue to search and fight for a better world ~ just as although she doesn't care to believe in fairy tales, she secretly hopes that Piolo Pascual will one day ride by on his white horse and carry her away.
15 June 2010
“What is it with those two?” Jon asked as he, Kaye, and Yoshi observed Ken and Ana from the other side of the room.
“Sou ne, they’ve been acting strange all evening,” Yoshi mused.
“Ana was quiet on the way to the Budokan a while ago,” Kaye commented, “she seemed deep in thought.”
“I wondered about that,” Jon nodded, “she was in such high spirits when we were at the house.”
“Yeah,” Yoshi seconded, “She seemed alright when I saw her backstage before the concert.”
“She went to see Ken before the concert began right?” Jon asked Kaye.
“Well, that’s what Marga said,” Kaye muttered and in unison, the three of them looked to where Marga was laughing in the midst of a group of young men. Tessa was a few feet beside her, talking to a few young men from Johnny’s Jimusho, who Yoshi had introduced them to. They both looked like they were having the time of their life.
“Ah,” Yoshi chuckled, “To be young and without a care in the world.”
“Who’s the hanger-on?” Jon asked, indicating the woman who was sidling up to Ken.
“Wasn’t she one of the performers a while ago?” Kaye asked.
“If you call that screeching a performance,” Jon muttered, remembering how he had visibly cringed when the girl’s group had come on stage.
“That’s Ai Otani, she’s the lead singer of the group Saga,” Yoshi told Kaye. Then he turned to Jon and said mockingly, “You don’t really think that when men watch her perform, they actually listen to her music.”
Jon gave Yoshi a speaking look, remembering the barely-there costumes, “How fortunate for me then.”
The three of them turned back to look at Ana and Ken. Gone was the connection that they had observed in the previous weeks. They both acted stiffly towards each other and although they smiled, it didn’t seem to reach their eyes. They spoke to each other in over-polite stilted sentences. They stood apart, separated by a seemingly invisible wall. And when the crowd jolted them and they happened to bump together, they jumped apart as if they had been electrocuted.
What the hell is going on, they wondered.
It was excruciating. Ana didn't know how much more she was expected to take.
For the past hour, she had had to stand next to Ken while another woman was draped over him. The sly, sidelong glances Ai had been giving her were almost too much. But she wouldn't back down. No way, sir. She would prove that she could stick to the rules of the game, even if Ken didn’t seem to mind.
But Ken did mind. He wanted to bodily hurl Ai from his side, but aside from causing a scene, the gesture wouldn’t help fix things up with Ana.
“Na Ken, you’re so lucky,” Hide said as he came up beside them, “to be surrounded by two gorgeous women.” Ken smiled crookedly in response, not really in the mood to humor Hide, whom he liked least among Yoshi’s friends. Ignoring Ken’s lack of response, Hide addressed Ana, “Hey Ana-san, would you do me the honor of dancing with me?” he invited with a low bow.
Ken was about to tell Hide to go to hell when Ana laughed and held out her hand, “Sure, I’d love to,” she said as Ken gritted his teeth. Belatedly, she turned to him, “Ken? Is it alright if…”
“Sure. Go, I’m sure I can keep myself occupied while you’re away,” Ken answered as he draped an arm around Ai. He hated himself for the flash of pain he momentarily glimpsed on Ana’s face. But she recovered quickly, smiled at him and then turned to Hide.
Beside him, Ai was suggesting that they dance too. He was about to snap at her when he realized that it sounded like a good idea. Two could play at this game, he thought. However, he quickly regretted his decision when he realized that Ai’s idea of dancing was akin to making a spectacle of herself. She dragged him up to the raised dais and proceeded to gyrate beside him. He scowled at her, but she didn’t seem to notice; she was loving the all attention that they were getting. He glanced over at Ana, who was dancing with Hide. Their eyes met briefly, but she quickly turned away.
“Daijoubu?” Hide asked, “Are you alright, Ana-san?”
Ana shook herself out of her stupor and turned to look at her dance partner. He smiled at her and said, “You looked like you were miles away. Or,” he glanced at Ken and Ai on the raised dais, “at least the other side of the room.”
Ana grimaced, was she that transparent? So much for playing it cool. She put her hand up to her temples, she had a raging headache all of a sudden. “I think the noise and the smoke may all be too much for me,” she said smiling ruefully at Hide, “I think I’ll step out for some fresh air.”
“Allow me to escort you, there’s a small park just near here,” he said as he took her elbow. He paused to down a glass from a tray that a waiter proffered before leading Ana out the side door.
“Whoa, I sure am having a good time!” Yoshi, Jon, and Kaye turned at the sound of Marga’s voice.
Yoshi grinned as he spied Kaye roll her eyes behind Marga’s back. He hailed a passing waiter and snagged drinks for all of them. “Careful with this stuff,” he warned as Marga guzzled hers down, “it’s pretty strong.”
Kaye, who wasn’t a novice at drinking, humphed after sampling a sip, “It’s strong --- by Japanese standards,” she qualified.
Yoshi held his hands up, “I admit that given the amount of alcohol we put away, Japanese people don’t have a strong stomach for alcohol,” he smiled as he nursed his glass, “I’m not so bad, but my bandmate Hide turns into a kissing monster after a few glasses. Once, when we were on tour, he even kissed us all.” He made a face as Jon and Kaye laughed.
“Oh, sempai Ana better watch out then,” Marga tittered.
“What do you mean?” Jon asked her.
“Well, it’s just that I saw Hide downing a couple of these,” she gestured to the cocktail glass she held, “before he went out with Ana.”
“Went out where?” Yoshi frowned. Marga pointed out the door the couple had exited. Yoshi briefly exchanged looks with Jon, “I’ll go get Ken,” he called over his shoulder, “just to be sure.”
Go to Chapter 23!