“So, a little birdy told me that you’re living with someone?”, sabi ni Rhoi sa akin nang makipagkita ako sa kanya.
“Paano mo nalaman?”, I asked curiously.
“Well, your credit card is still under my name after all and the billing goes to the hotel. You can guess what happens after I see a lot of recent purchases.”
Natawa naman ako sa sinabi nito. Of course he would check what’s up with the bill eh sa dami ng pinamili naming gamit sa bahay, malamang umabot ng ilang daang libo ang bill nun.
“Well, yeah. He’s name is Jared. He’s interesting.”, I said and then took a sip of my coffee.
Napabuntunghininga naman si Rhoi.
“Oh no. Here comes the lecture.”, naisip ko.
“Mark, you know that you’re going o hurt him in the end. Bakit mo naman naisip na makipag live-in sa sarili mong secretary?”
“Hey, it’s not like sasaktan ko siya. He’s different. I can feel it.”
“Look, I’m not trying to be an ass pero sinabi mo rin yan tungkol sa ex mong ginago ka lang.”
“At least give me a shot at this. I’ve realized that I can’t keep going through different guys every time. I also have plans of settling down and this might be it with him. If it doesn’t work out then boohoo, I’ll move on and so will he. But for now, I can tell that we both want this.”
He looked at me. I can see concern in his eyes.
He sighed and spoke. “Okay. But be careful.”
Tumango lang ako.
“I mean it. Be careful not to hurt him and hurt yourself.”
“Opo itay!”, pabiro kong sabi rito. Dahilan upang kutusan ako nito.
“I’m serious Mark.”
I looked at my cousin’s face. He really is serious.
“I know. I am too.”
We just sat there and enjoyed each other’s company for a while before I decided to go back to work.
I woke up to the smell of bacon. I looked around for Rindel pero wala sya. I must’ve slept in.
Tinungo ko ang kusina, nagbabakasakaling naroon siya ngunit wala rin. Sa halip ay may nakita akong maliit na piraso ng papel na nakaipit sa baso sa lamesa.
“I went ahead for work. Masyadong mahimbing ang tulog mo kaya hinayaan nalang kita. Last night was perfect. I’ll see you at work. Or not. J -RINDEL
Napangiti ako sa nabasa ko. I remembered falling asleep in his arms. Hindi ko akalain na may gusto rin pala sa akin si Rindel.
Nagpasya akong kumain na at nang makapunta na ako sa opisina. Don’t judge! I am going there for work! Well, that and to see Rindel. I’d still have to act professionally and be just his secretary when we’re at work.
Matapos kumain ay mabilis akong naligo at nagbihis. I checked if I have everything; my phone, wallet, keys at nang masigurong dala ko lahat ay ini-lock ko na ang bahay at tinungo ang garahe. It’s a good thing that I have my car or else mahihirapan akong lumabas ng subdivision.
Papasok na dapat ako ng kotse nang may tumawag sa aking atensyon.
“Excuse me?!”, pasigaw na tawag ng isang di pamilyar na lalaki sa aking atensyon.
“Po? Ako po?”, tanong ko rito.
“Yeah. Uhm, andyan ba si Mark?”, tanong nito?
“I’m sorry, sino po?”, takang tanong ko rito.
“Ahh, si Mark, Mark Rindel?”
“I see. Umalis na po siya eh.”
“Ganun ba? Ikaw ba si Jared?”, patuloy na tanong nito.
“O-opo.”, alangan kong sagot rito.
“Please, drop the formalities. Hindi naman yata nagkakalayo ang mga edad natin. I’m Rhoi by the way. Rhoi Justin. Pinsan ako ni Mark.”, pagpapakilala nito sabay abot ng kamay.
“Jared.”, pakilala ko sabay abot sa kamay nito. “But you already knew that.”, dagdag ko kapagkwan.
He chuckled at this.
“I’m sorry. I know this is sudden but I need to talk to you about Mark. Would it be okay if you’d come with me?”
“Ahh, eh, papunta na kasi ako sa trabaho eh.”, pagdadahilan ko dito. Malay ko bang kidnapper pala siya. Pero ang gwapong kidnapper naman neto. Syempre hindi ko naman talaga masisiguradong pinsan nga ito ni Rindel kung kaya ay hindi ako agad-agad na pumapayag.
“I know you’re in doubt but I could call Rindel. I’m sure it won’t be a problem if you miss work for today.”, sabi nito na para bang nabasa ang iniisip ko.
“Naku, wag na. Baka makaabala pa sa trabaho niya. I’ll go with you. I’ll just send him a message.”, sabi ko rito.
“Great! Tara. You can ride with me or you can use your own car if you’re uncomfortable. Any way is fine.”, sabi nitong nakangiti.
“Yeah. I think I’ll just use my car.”, sabi ko rito saka tumalikod at pumasok sa kotse ko.
Honestly, it crossed my mind to not follow him. But something in my gut told me that he’s not a bad person. So sinundan ko ito hanggang sa makarating kami sa isang branch ng Starbucks na malapit sa opisina.
We looked for a seat at umorder ng maiinom. He insisted that he would pay for our drinks para daw makabawi siya sa abala niya sa akin.
“So.”, simula nito. “Ang totoo niyan ay hindi alam ni Rindel na pinuntahan kita. You see, we just talked earlier and we talked about you.”
He was straight to the point. Walang paligoy-ligoy.
“Ako? Why me?”, tanong ko rito.
“Well, sort of. We were actually talking about both of you.”
“As you know, Mark hasn’t exactly been a saint. He’s had his fair share for adventures, ika nga. That’s why I wanted to talk to you.”
“I don’t see why I have anything to do with it.”, I said truthfully.
“For starters, because I know you have a thing going on with him. I’m not sure if you would put a label on it but I could see that you have a mutual understanding. You like each other – to put it simply. And I think that it’s fair to warn you beforehand.”
“Warn me about what?”, I asked. This time confused.
“What about Mark?”, I asked cautiously.
“I know you know na may reputasyon sa pagiging playboy ang pinsan ko. He hasn’t been in a relationship for a long time and all he did was hook-up with random men and I don’t want you to get hurt if he goes back to his old habits. You seem like a really nice guy and he may be my cousin but I think you’re too good for him.”, paliwanag nito.
“I get what you’re trying to say. Pero it may be a little too late.”, I said
Napakunot ito ng noo. "What do you mean?", tanong nito.
"I mean, I think I may have developed a crush on Rindel.", I said not looking into his eyes. Alam kong namumula ang pisngi ko dahil ramdam ko ang pag-init nito.
I faintly heard him chuckle.
"I guess wala na tayong magagawa. But I would advice you to be cautious.", tumayo ito saka tinungo ang pintuan ng coffee shop. Ngunit bago ito tuluyang lumabas ay muli itong nagsalita.
"I think you're going to be a good influence to Rindel. Just don't give up on him.", sabi nito saka tuluyang umalis.
Napagpasyahan kong umuwi nalang at hueag nang pumasok sa opisina. I need to think this through. Ano ba 'tong pinasok ko?
Dumating ako sa bahay at nagpahinga sa kwarto. Maya-maya pa ay tumunog ang cellphone ko.
It was Rindel calling.
"Hello.", sagot ko.
"Nasaan ka? I've been waiting for you.", tanong nito. Halatang iritado.
"Sorry, nagpasya akong wag na muna pumasok. Medyo sumama kasi ang pakiramdam ko.", sabi ko rito. It wasn't an entire lie. I was feeling a bit of headache but nothing a good rest can't cure.
"Are you alright? Do you want me to come home?", tanong nitong malumanay na ang boses.
I shook my head no, kahit na hindi nya naman nakikita. "Huwag na. You need to be in the office. Sorry hindi ko matrack lahat ng appointments mo ngayon but don't forget the 4:00 PM meeting at the JX Building with Mr. Ricamonte. Importante yun."
"I understand. Sige. Magpahinga ka nalang. I'll get there as soon as I can.",sagot nito.
Tumango ako. "Okay. Bye.", and I dropped the call.
I kept on repeating what Rhoi said earlier in my head. Tama ba 'tong ginagawa ko? I mean, I could also move on without his help. Pero hindi ako titigilan ni Nick. Ugh!! I hate my life!