Wow, talk about birthing pains! This is one baby that took 5 years to complete ;-) Thank you to everyone who read and commented. And if you felt even an iota of the kilig I felt when I was writing this, then super duper thanks!
If you liked this, I hope you share the love and tell your friends who might be interested about this blog. I will also be publishing this via smashwords soon, so you'll be able to download the whole book ;-)
Honto ni arigatou gozaimasu minna!
Coming up next...Kaye and Tessa's story...Abangan!
28 August 2013
I let myself into Ken’s apartment with the special card key he had given me. I put the sacks of food I had bought on the kitchen counter. He wouldn’t be home for at least a couple of hours and I wanted to surprise him with dinner. I systematically began preparing the ingredients for chicken adobo, rice, and salad.
I was just setting the table when heard the doorbell and frowned. It was still much too early. Who could that be?
I peered through the security screen and froze. Holy kangkong! Even though the video was dark and blurry, I could still recognize the undeniably beautiful Erina Sakamoto standing just outside the door.
Gaaah! What is she doing here? I am so not ready for this!
I was tempted to simply ignore her, but seeing that she wasn’t about to disappear in a puff of smoke, I decided to invite her in. I’d rather not have this meeting serve as tabloid fodder.
Up close, Erina Sakamoto was even lovelier than she was on TV. She looked surprised to see me, but she let me usher her in. “Gomenasai, but Ken isn’t here yet.” I told her when we seated ourselves on the sofa.
She actually looked relieved. “Ah, sou? Perhaps it is better this way.” She rooted around in her bag and produced a blue Tiffany box. “Would you…would you mind returning this to Ken? I wouldn’t feel comfortable keeping it.” I took the box and looked questioningly at her. She smiled. “It was supposed to be an engagement ring.”
I groaned. “Ms. Sakamoto…”
“I’m… I’m really sorry for having caused you and Ken to break up. It was a mistake…”
“Eeee? You what?” She looked confused.
“I… uh… didn’t I?”
“You didn’t cause our breakup; we’d broken up before he met you—at least I think so. Actually, I broke up with him long before we left LA.”
She … what? I stared mutely at her. I didn’t cause their breakup? She broke up with him? Was it true then? Could Ken still be carrying a torch for her?
“I don’t know exactly what Ken has told you about us,” She began. “We’d been friends for years, and we sort of conveniently drifted into a relationship. I was in love with him for so long.” She gave a brittle laugh. “But he was never in love with me. My husband…”
“Oh yes, didn’t Ken tell you? That’s why I broke up with him. I finally fell in love with someone.” She smiled as she told me how she had met her husband in LA while she and Ken were filming the sequel to Ima Anata Ni. “I’m sure that Ken was secretly relieved I’d broken it off. It had come to the point where we ought to either break it up or get married.”
“But Ken wanted to marry you…” I protested.
She sighed. “Only because it was next logical step. As you know, he likes things serious and rational. He’s not the spontaneous type. Why, when we talked about getting engaged, he even showed me Tiffany’s ring catalog!”
I stared at her. Logical? Not spontaneous? I looked down at the beautiful ring that Yoshi told me Ken had deliberated over for hours. It was like she was talking about a totally different person!
Erina’s smile widened as she looked at me. “I see you don’t share my opinion of him. I’m happy he’s finally found someone to love. He deserves it after all this time.” At my confused look, she proceeded to tell me about Ken’s parents. Apparently, his dad had drunk himself to death after his wife passed away, forgetting all about Ken and his sister Yuki. Ken had had to work in order to support himself and Yuki. Afterwards, Ken swore that he’d never fall in love like his dad. “Although I tried, I’ve never been able to break through the barriers he erected.” She reached out and clasped my hand. “I’m really happy to see that you have.”
She departed shortly after that, leaving me with a lot to consider.
If I wasn’t the reason they had broke up, then why had Ken roped me into all of this in the first place? Was it simply because of his career? Then why was he so adamant we see this through even though it was apparent that there was no shortage of lovely and available women eager to fling themselves at him?
Things just didn’t make sense. Ken had ignored me for 2 weeks then suddenly he was overeager to tie the knot. Was it really because he had seen me and Dan that night? Had he really been jealous? Did I really matter that much to him?
I lost track of how long I sat on the sofa, pondering everything, when I suddenly heard the beep of the lock disengaging. The door opened and Ken stepped in.
His whole face lit up when he saw me. He put down his suitcase and sniffed appreciatively. “Ana? Did you cook dinner for me?” When he saw how still I was, he approached warily. “Ana, what’s wrong?”
“Erina was just here. She left this for you.” I handed him the box. He tossed it aside and asked again what the problem was.
“Ken, you guys didn’t break up because of what happened at the airport.”
He winced slightly. “So you’ve found me out.” He sat down beside me. “When we had lunch, you assumed that you were the reason we broke up. I let you think so and I’m sorry. It’s just that, if you hadn’t felt so guilty, you would never have agreed to the plan. And that would have ruined everything.”
I bowed my head. “Ken, why do you want to get married?”
Ken stood up abruptly. “I thought we’d finished discussing all the reasons why.”
“But are those enough for marriage?” I asked him.
He shrugged. “I’ve known some marriages to have been built on much less. But that depends on you. Is that that something you’d be content with?”
Suddenly it all became crystal-clear. I was in love with Ken. And I wanted the whole shebang that went with being in love. I wanted quiet walks and cuddles, jokes that made sense to only the two of us. I wanted hugs when things were going bad and someone to share the glory with when things went well. I wanted someone to fight with and make up with. I wanted all that with Ken.
Slowly, I raised vulnerable eyes to his. “Would you be content?”
“No I wouldn’t.” At my surprised look, he went on. “Ana, I want a wife who loves me as much as I do her.”
My heart was doing crazy palpitations in my chest. “And… and when you … do you think I could be all that?”
“Baka! Only you could ask such a question.” He said exasperatedly. He groaned. “Ana, I’ve been in love with you for months!”
“How was I supposed to know?! You didn’t say anything!”
He rolled his eyes. “Cho baka! Only an idiot wouldn’t have known!”
“Are you calling me an idiot?”
“If you think I’m going to allow you to call me an idiot when we’re married, you’d better think again!”
Ken smiled. “Then you’re going to marry me?”
“Of course I am!” I exclaimed, smiling. “I love you Ken. And besides, I’m not an idiot.”
I threw myself into his waiting arms and suddenly we were kissing and laughing and tearing our clothes off. But when Ken finally laid me down on his bed, I drew back. “Ne, I just thought … shouldn’t we wait until after we’re married?”
Ken rolled his eyes and pulled me back against him. “Baka. Now who’s being an idiot?”
“When did you know?” It was much, much later when Ken and I cuddled on the bed, happy and satisfied, that I remembered to ask.
“That I loved you? Not right away, but I was definitely intrigued from the first.”
“But why me?”
He smiled. “Fishing for compliments? Ana, you’re the only woman who’s ever stood up to me.”
I hit him with a pillow. “You deserved it. You can be so arrogant sometimes.”
“Only sometimes?” He asked and I hit him again. “Ana, I love not only your intelligence and independent spirit, but also your vulnerability and sweetness. I love your crankiness, your weird sense of humor, your wit, and your kindness. You make me want to tear my hair out and curse, but you definitely make me happy. How could I not love you? When you told your parents that we were engaged, I would have moved heaven and earth to make it true.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Baka. You weren’t ready to listen. I told your dad though.”
Ken told me that he had come clean with my father. He admitted to Daddy that we weren’t really engaged, but that he believed I loved him and that he could make me happy. To my surprise, my dad had gone along with it.
And so as I fell asleep that night, guilt-free and happily ensconced in the arms of the man I loved, I sent a silent prayer to the heavens not only for granting my wish, but also for giving me the courage to claim it for myself. After all, although we may not always get what we wish for, it’s up to us how to use the cards we’ve been dealt.
And as I stared into Ken’s sleeping profile, a wicked smile came over my lips as my hands innocently found their way down his torso, I definitely know how I’m going to use mine.
“I was thinking of importing cherry blossom branches for the church…”
“It’s not really the season for sakura, Mama.” I reasoned over the phone. As usual, she had called to discuss wedding arrangements. For the past 2 weeks, I had approved color swatches, looked over menu and song lists, and been measured at least once.
“Hm, you’re right.” My mom mused. “I was thinking of using them to decorate the pews so we’d have something like a canopy as you walk down the aisle. You know, like what Juday had for her wedding.”
I rolled my eyes, I had no idea what Juday did for her wedding.
“Can you see if you can get some at Tokyu Hands?” She asked. “They’ve lovely artificial ones there.”
“Fine, Mama. I’ll email you as soon as I’ve gone.” With my mom, it was easier to just keep on agreeing.
“So how is Ken doing?”
“He’s busy finishing up several filming commitments to clear his schedule.” I told her. Ken was in Nara shooting a period film. I hadn’t seen much of him since our engagement party, but he called every day. He was due back today and I hoped to have a little talk with him later this weekend.
She sighed. “I’m really am happy that you’re getting married Ana. Your Dad and I have always worried about you. We’re really glad that you now have Ken to take care of you.”
I bit back the retort that I was able to take care of myself and fidgeted guiltily. It was a good thing Mama couldn’t see me. “I thought that Dad was still against everything.” I commented. Daddy hadn’t said five words to me since I had dropped the bombshell on them.
“Oh he was, up until your engagement party in fact. But Ken paid him a visit after and they had nice talk and sorted it all out.”
“Ken did what?” I choked.
“Oh, I forgot, he did say not to tell you. You worry overmuch about the littlest things dear. Now forget I said anything and instead, why don’t you think about the centerpiece choices I sent you. I still like the ikebana one with mirrors…”
I let my mind wander as Mom continued to prattle on. I couldn’t imagine Ken with my dad without the latter erupting into violence or at least a show of hysterics. And now Daddy was actually resigned to our marriage? What the hell had Ken told my father?!
After Mom had rung off a few minutes later, I strayed over to the kitchen to see what Kaye was doing. In a fit of domesticity, she was actually baking cookies.
“Hoy Ana, you’ve been staring into space for at least 10 minutes now. What’s up?” Kaye asked after a while.
Kaye raised an eyebrow. “Spit it out. You know you’ll tell me eventually anyway.”
I don’t know why I suddenly felt like venting; but suddenly, the words gushed forth like a hemorrhage. I told Kaye everything—from what the Ai and Takashi had told me 2 weeks ago, to what my mom had said about Ken and my dad.
“So let me know if I got this right,” Kaye said when I finished my recital. “You’re feeling guilty because you’re deceiving your parents and marrying a guy who you don’t think loves you because he’s still hooked on a girl you inadvertently made him break up with. You’re also scared that you’re ruining your life and you’re terrified to death of admitting your feelings. Have I got everything?”
“In a nutshell.” I confirmed. “Oh Kaye, what should I do?”
“How should I know?” Kaye went back to decorating her cookies. “But I do know if I were you I’d go and see Ken and hash this all out before we got married.” She looked directly at me. “The sooner, the better. Then you’ll know what to do.” When she saw my hesitation, she said more gently, “This isn’t a shotgun wedding Ana. No one’s forcing you to do anything. But you’re an adult and you’ve evaded the issues long enough. You owe it to yourself to find out the truth.” Kaye sighed. “Ana, you asked for someone to love. Fate has handed you that someone. You ask for water and God gives you rain—do you ask for a glass too? ”
I smiled. “Kaye, when did you become so wise?”
She shrugged and turned back to her cookies. “I don’t know; I was probably born this way.”
I was laughing as I closed the front door.
Go to the last chapter!
Go to the last chapter!
21 August 2013
Hi everybodeeee! (sorry, too much Sesame Street, I'm starting to channel Grover)
First of all, let me tell you, I REALLY MISS CREATIVE WRITING!!! Hahaha! been AWOL for ages because I've had to take care of P-chan and the newest addition to the family, I-chan.
I've been working on a couple of other titles, some as a follow up to Ana and Ken's story, as well as a host of others. Gads, I really need to finish one soon. Hahaha! I'm hoping that I'll get back into the groove in the next few months as I'm hoping I'll be able to do NaNoWriMo again in November *fingers crossed*
Anyway, to whet your appetites, here's an excerpt from Tessa's story. Enjoy!
I'm in love with Who?
I have a secret.
And not just any secret; it was a secret so big that I hadn’t told anyone. Ever. Not a single soul. I kid you not, it’s the kind of secret that could turn my whole world upside down. It’s the kind of secret that needed to be suppressed.
I was in love with one of my best friends.
Okay, okay, I do have a flair for drama. Sure, lots of people fall in love with their best friends. Sometimes they get together, and sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they remain friends, and sometimes, they never speak to each other again. But those other girls usually had a fair fighting chance of turning that friendship into something else.
I had none. Nada. Zip.
It would’ve been better if he was married, had a girlfriend, or was in love with an older woman. But no, he wasn’t.
Sadly, he usually fell in and out of love with men.
So it wasn’t at all surprising that I almost had a heart attack when Jon asked me to be his girlfriend.
“What? You’re asking me to do what?!” I had spluttered when he had asked. Unfortunately, I had just been taking a sip of my morning coffee.
“I need you to be my girlfriend, at least for a week or so.”
“Why the sudden need for a significant other?” Obviously, it wasn’t because he had fallen madly in love with me.
He sighed and ran a hand through his hair. “My brother is coming over to Tokyo on business and he might tell.” And obviously, Jon’s family didn’t know that their oldest son batted for a different team. Jon hardly ever talked about his family.
“Jon, does it really matter? You’re an adult. You’re successful and accomplished. They’d be proud of you.” Jon was pushing 36 this year, but he didn’t look his age at all. He was tall, urbane, and handsome in a mestizo fashion. He was a good dresser, had a good education, and an impressive portfolio. In fact he was the perfect guy—a guy you’d be proud to take home to meet your parents—except maybe for the fact that he was gay.
“Ugh. It’s just that I’ve never really talked to them about it…I seriously wouldn't know how.”
“But why me?”
“Well, I’ve sort of told them that we live together.”
That brought on another round of coughing. Yes, Jon and I actually lived together. More on that later.
He turned his pleading eyes on me. “Please Tessa, say you’ll do it. I’ll do anything.”
Anything? Hmmm… Oh all right, I thought as I shunted an x-rated thought aside. As if!
“Ok, no need to grovel, I’ll do it.” I could never say no to him and he knew it.
Plus, I believe in the power of positive-thinking; there was always a chance that he might decide he liked women after all and fall in love with me. I’d almost given up hope, but this girlfriend ruse might be just the thing.
Cross your fingers. You just never knew, right?
Okay, so let’s backtrack a bit, shall we?
My name is Tessa. Aside from the fact that I’m 27, single, and in love with my best friend, I’m also an English teacher and am currently based in Tokyo.
I arrived in the big daikon about five years ago. In a nutshell, the cover story is that I came to Tokyo to broaden my perspective, learn to be independent, earn a decent living, and all that poetic stuff, yadda, yadda. But seriously, all I wanted was to get as far away from my brothers as I possibly could.
Don't get me wrong, I love my kuyas to bits, but sometimes, just thinking about them makes me want to break out in hives.
Since our parents died years ago, kuya Tony and kuya Andy have perfected the art of micro-managing my life. They've taken really good care of me, so I feel a bit guilty about complaining, but sometimes a girl has got to learn from her own mistakes, not just from the mistakes of others. And by others, I mean every girl my kuyas have ever heard of who have either: (a) fallen in love with the wrong guy; (b) had her heart broken; (c) had an illegitimate child; and/or (d) completely ruined her life. Oh, and did I mention that my kuyas can sometimes be as melodramatic as I am?
I know they just don't want me to get hurt, but I’m of the opinion that people are not meant to go through life smothered in bubble-wrap.
So okay, to cut to the chase, I managed to convince them to let me try and work abroad (I meant it when I said I wanted to get far, far, faaaar away). Kuya Tony suggested Japan, since he and kuya Andy knew someone who worked at the Tokyo branch of an international headhunting firm. Kaye had gone to school with them and had even served on the student council with kuya Tony. They never said, but I knew that my brothers secretly hoped that some of Kaye’s diligence, focus, and sense of responsibility would rub off on me.
Ha! If they only knew.
My kuyas were right; Kaye as just as responsible as they were. But what my kuyas didn't know was that Kaye believed in living life. She worked hard, but she played even harder. Her idea of mid-week de-stressing was drink-all-you-can ladies night at bars in Roppongi (half price for ladies). She was one of the only people I knew who could binge on sake (Eeeew!) and not feel hung over the next day. Plus, she had actually encouraged me to date different guys every month. Collect and select, she used to say—that is, before she got married. How’s that for influence?
I actually hadn’t planned on staying in Tokyo very long, but that all changed when I met Jon.
I still vividly remember when Kaye had introduced us. “You’ll like Jon,” she said, “He hangs out with us a lot.” By us, she meant her roommate, Ana Madrigal (now Nakamura). I’d been staying at Ana and Kaye’s place while looking for something of my own, and Kaye kept introducing me to men she thought I’d hit it off with. She was sweet like that. She told me that I hadn’t met Jon yet because he had been in the US for an extended business trip these past months and had just gotten back to Tokyo.
We met Jon at Yoyogi Park after hearing mass at Yotsuya, where the St. Iganatius church was located. We took a short train ride to Yoyogi and walked the short distance to the park. It was a sunny day in early April and the sakura trees were shedding petals all over the place (just like in the animes!). It looked like a pink snowstorm had hit. It was just magical.
Just beyond the canopy of trees was a bench where a man was reading the Wall Street Times. There was a break in the trees above and rays of afternoon sun filtered in to lovingly caress the planes of his face and cast a reddish glow upon his dark brown hair.
Holy kangkong, he was hot.
As in potres-artista-ba-yan-hot. So there.
Seriously, I felt like God had turned a spotlight upon him and a choir of angels started singing (all complemented by the falling sakura). As we walked towards him, I started chanting in my head, please let him be Jon, please let him be Jon.
So when we finally reached him and Kaye introduced us, I almost fell to my knees in gratitude.
Oh wait, that’s not technically true. I almost fell over when Jon stood up, raked his hair off his forehead, and smiled at me.
That’s when I knew I’d be staying in Tokyo indefinitely.
And oh yes, currently Jon and I happily lived together in an apartment in Akasaka Mitsuke, which was right smack in the middle of Tokyo’s central business district. The area abounded with offices, posh apartments, embassies, restaurants, and a convenience store at almost every corner.
Jon’s flat was partly subsidized by his company, so I paid peppercorn rent for a luxuriously appointed flat. I used to live with Ana and Kaye, but they moved out when they got married. All the flats I had looked at with my meager budget in mind were all so crappy that Jon took pity on me and asked me if I wanted to move in with him. I didn’t need to be asked twice. I packed my things and moved in the next day.
That was about a year ago. I was still waiting for a miracle to happen.
But hey, now I get to be Jon’s girlfriend for a couple of weeks. Stranger things have happened.