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.