”Okay, its okay. What more…what he said to you? ” I asked her in a higher tone. ”He said to try to visit him at the Riviera Café & Restaurant. ”

I lowered my voice, ”Okay Ayah, thank you. Hows your life in the boarding house? Hows your family? ”

”In my boarding house… its quite problematic but I can manage. And my family…they
e fine. ”

”Take care always Ayah. ” I started to leave when I remembered something inside my pocket, ”By the way, take these drugs and read the prescription first before taking the pill, I think you knew this…. ” Ayah looked at me squarely, smiled, and said, ”Okay love, bye! ”

The next day I visited Edward Ramirez at the restaurant where hes working. He excused himself from his duty asking his Manager to have a day off instead. We got a taxi cab going to One Springfield Complex, a beautiful night spot outside the city. We played bowling for about an hour and seated ourselves in a restaurant in an open place. I ordered a case of beer, sliced cucumber, and a bowl of ”kinilaw, ” – an Ilonggo appetizer; marinated raw fish with vinegar, and lots of spices. I consumed a bottle of beer, get another, and started the conversation with Edward.

”Ayah told me about you, about what you said to her… ” I stopped suddenly.

”Marc, weve known each other for a long time now. I knew that you
e a good and kindhearted man. I can understand your situation from the very start we met. I wanted you to open your mind to these two women. You
e switching them like your polo shirts! Be reasonable for their feelings as women, how can you handle both of them in the future? ”

”Edward, you know, I have to keep living, and these two women helped me more than I could imagine. Moreover, I am sure you knew already why I am keeping them. Read my lips buddy, I-need-their-help-to-finish-my-college-education! Got it, buddy? ” I answered back angrily.

”But, you know Marco, its a sin to do all that stuff! Eventually, bad karma will plague you. Remember that. ”

”Buddy, shut up, okay! Who told you that? ” And I stood up angrily. ”Just some people…., ” he answered in a low voice.

”Forget them! They
e nothing! They
e only watching other peoples back! I left Edward and went home alone.

I resumed my daily survival as if I was acting at a stage, where I was the protagonist, who managed to subdue the antagonist, anytime, anywhere, and sometimes even outside the script, Ill do it for the sake of my baleful whims.

I acted differently when I was with Danielle it gave me high esteem than when I was with Ayah Isabel. More than what I wanted to change in my lifestyle, I wanted to be generous to other people in need. I kept my secret to Danielle for a year which gave me financial freedom on my part. The last wish that I asked for her, was a sports car. Great isn it?

I used my new status and influence to finish my course. I had the money to buy what I wanted to buy, and the earthly things that I needed most. My bank accounts doubled every week through the courtesy of Danielle. She was a year to go before her graduation with a Bachelor of Science in Commerce, majoring in Management.

Ayah lived remotely from my view and didn bother to visit me in my apartment. Even in school, she hid from my view. Edward, on the other hand, continued to work in a restaurant without bothering me at all. With my new status, alone, I managed to follow them secretly, including Danielle. I hired an investigator for the three of them. To know them secretly, and to easily identify my recourse when the problem arises. One thing I discovered about Danielle; she had a big house in Bacolod City, and her parents got vast wealth and estate from their forefathers. They
e public figures in their hometown that made Danielle the sole and legal heiress of their wealth.

But fates so unkind to me, Danielle found out about Ayah Isabel and the war began between the three of us. I tried my best to control the situation, but Danielle was very aggressive to confront things in her own way. A possessive woman with nothing can stop whatever she liked.

One day, Danielle came inside our school and met me. She wanted to talk with Ayah Isabel about the love triangle.

”Danielle, please listen, don make a scene. This is a Catholic school and this things against their code of ethics. Please be cool, okay, ” I pleaded with her.

”I don care! I want to talk to Ayah Isabel, right now! ” She answered while walking down the hallway.

”Everybody is watching you…. ” I said to her while pulling her right hand. She halted, faced me, and asked angrily.

”Who is everybody? ”

”Danielle, cool, please listen to me, ” I asked her in a low voice.

”Okay, Ill listen, go on Marco? ”

”Okay, how about, tomorrow, lunchtime, in Golden Dragon Restaurant? Ayah will come along with me. I promise. Its okay for you? ”

”Good Marco Fernando, great, see you there tomorrow, lunchtime. ” Danielle left me in the school hallway with a heavy heart, and my hope was falling apart.

The darkness falls and seemed lonely when I met Ayah at the Riviera Café & Restaurant. When I entered the place, I saw her sitting at the table alone, while Edward was busy serving another customer. The restaurant ambiance is really awesome compared to other food establishments along Lacson Street in Bacolod City. It catered to nearby hospitals, schools, banks, and other business institutions. A place to unwind after a hard days work, some people believed. But for me; its a place where my best friend toiled, a place where I started to know the rigors of city life and a place where I found Ayah Isabel Gonzales.

I seated myself beside Ayah and greeted her, but quite aloof, ”How are you? Sorry, quite a heavy traffic…you know…. ”

She looked at me with soulful eyes and nodded slightly. I looked around for Edward, my eyes met his questioning gesture which meant asking me if there was a problem while approaching me at the table. I mimicked him for a cup of Americano coffee, got my order, and left.

I began the conversation seriously with Ayah Isabel about the situation and convinced her to come with me to our meeting tomorrow. Ayah Isabel did not argue with me at all. She understood my well-being, that even though she was hurt, still, she preferred to keep quiet. I instructed Ayah Isabel not to give up what she feels right if confronted by Danielle tomorrow. I held her hands tightly, and said, ”I know that you
e hurt with all my caprices to survive. You fully knew that I am doing this because of my ambition in life. I am not rich enough to support my college education at first. You know that, do you? This is all about surviving from my standard of living. We
e graduating in a few months and my only hope is to land a good job, with a good salary. Because I have an affinity with Danielle, doesn mean that I don love you? Ayah, I love you from the start, and even until now. My heart belongs to you alone, not for Danielle. ”

”Marc, you
e the only one I love, you
e my first love, and I don want to lose you. Our hearts connect each other until death. Truly, I love you so much that Ill sacrifice my whole life to you only. Please respect my love for you. The only thing is youve got a relationship that you can elude instantly. We could live a life on our own, isn it Marco? ”

”Okay, then, tomorrow, open up your feelings to Danielle and we can completely decide this matter. ”

”Yes Marco, Im with you always. ”

We approached Edward together, and bid goodbye, ”Edward, we
e going ahead. Can we talk this coming week? Sorry, last time my friend, I was quite agitated. ”

”Okay best friend, no problem for me, Im here always for you…bye! ”

XXX

It was around eight in the morning; the light rays of the sun still lingered on my face. I perspired a thousand gallons more than what I did last week – jogging around the Bacolod City Plaza. My weekly program of exercising physically through the natural method gave me a thousand energy too. Running gave me the balance of creating my endurance of whats life ahead of me. I was on my way to Ayahs place, thinking about the final countdown which could prove to be my downfall for Danielle Gustilo or Ayah Isabel Gonzales. The most memorable moment of my life! I thought smiling alone.

Ayahs outside the gate when I fetched her. As I expected, her co-boarders were reeling around to witness the coming of the great King, Marco Fernando. I halfway smiled at them while opening the car door for Ayah Isabel.

XXX

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