Elaine is a junior executive at a pre-need firm; she is only 23 years old. She is intelligent and hardworking, to add to that she has a beautiful face and a magnificent body. A simple smile from her could make anyone at ease but today anger was written all over her face.
“Elaine! Wait, I can explain everything!” says Ronald. Elaine folds her clothes and places them inside her travelling bag. “What excuse are you going to use this time? Overtime in the office? Oh I forgot you’re still studying. They dragged to you a party? Or you simply forgot again?” she madly utters as she zips her bag and drags it along the floor.
“Listen to me please, it slipped my mind. Come on Elaine cut me some slack will you” he pleads but they fall into deaf ears. “My birthday last year, Valentine’s day, Christmas day and now this, am I even important to you? Am I not your girlfriend?” she says as she walks out the room. Ronald tries to block her way but she dodges him, he runs towards the door and leans on it. “I am not letting you go. I said I am sorry, what else do you want me to do?” he pleads.
“What do you think is the special event yesterday that you again missed? Tell me and I might forgive you, if you can’t then leave me alone” she says and stares him in the eyes. Ronald looks at her and bows his head and moves away from the door. Elaine opens the door and drags her bag outside as the driver of the cab meets her and takes her bag and places it inside the trunk.
Elaine was about to enter the cab but Ronald held her hand. “Please Elaine don’t go, tell me what to do please” he pleads. “Let go of me I need some time alone!” she yells and enters the cab and closes the door. “I’m sorry! Where are you going? At least tell me where you are going please” he begs of her.
“I’m taking a break, don’t bother calling me. Oh yeah I forgot you never call me actually so keep it up. I don’t want to hear from you while I am away. Lock the door to my apartment when you leave” she told him.
The cab begins to move and Ronald was left standing on the street looking on. The cab suddenly stopped and Ronald rushed towards the cab. He delightfully looked at Elaine at the open window but he saw her in tears.
“It was our first year anniversary” Elaine said and Ronald closed his eyes in embarrassment. The cab sped off leaving Ronald alone in the middle of the street as he falls to his knees.
Chapter 1: Table for two strangers
“Hello Tina, it’s me Elaine, could you do me a favor and file my vacation leave for me. Sorry but I’m already on a bus” Elaine says on her phone. “No problem, why all of a sudden?” her officemate asked. “I don’t want to talk about it” she replied. “I see, it’s him again. Anyway where are you heading to?” Tina asked. “Someplace warm and relaxing” she replied. “Wait, how many days will it be?” Tina asked her. “Oh just a week perhaps, I just want to clear my mind that’s all. Anyway I will call you when I get there. Thanks again Tina I owe you one” Elaine ends and shuts off her phone.
Elaine sits back and stares at the scenery as the bus passes through the farmlands, she looks at her watch and its one in the afternoon. She blocks away all thoughts about Ronald and imagines herself parading her new bikini on the beach. She already can feel the warm sun touching her skin and the sound of the gentle waves serenading her as she sunbathes. She closes her eyes and falls asleep.
“Miss wake up. We are already here” Elaine hears a voice telling her. As she opened her eyes she saw the bus driver looking at her. She looks at her watch and it is already 7 in the evening. She felt cold but managed to stand up and followed the driver down the bus. “Here is you bag madam” the driver hands the bag to her. She does not recognize the bus station so she asks “Where is this place?” and the driver looks at her confused. “This is Baguio City madam, the summer capital of the Philippines” he answered.
Elaine was so shocked to hear that, she got on the wrong bus. Baguio city was situated at the northern part of the Philippines. It was cold here; people do come and spend their summer vacation to get away from the heat of the sun. She felt cold and confused and was terribly hungry, so she went to the street vendor to buy a snack.
“I’m sorry madam but I don’t have change for your 1000 peso bill” the old woman told Elaine as she was about to pay for the snacks she bought. Elaine was feeling worse already, it seemed that all bad luck was going her way. “Oh, Sir Nathan! I have your favorite goodies, they just arrived!” shouted the old vendor. A man approached and stood beside Elaine. “Hello Martha, give me two packs, last week I didn’t taste not even one so make it a double today” and he gives his payment.
Nathan was a 30 year old bachelor, he was well built and often wore a smile on his face. He was just a simple person who did not mind what he was wearing, he often wears clothes that do not stand out or catch attention.
“No sir, I cannot accept that money, we still owe you. Let’s just deduct that amount to our debt” that old lady stated. “No Martha, take it, forget about the debt for now, I know you need the money, come on take it” Nathan insisted. The old lady was embarrassed but she took the money and prepared his change.
“Excuse me, do you have enough change now?” asked Elaine. “Sorry madam, I still lack half of the amount” replied Martha as she hands over the change to Nathan. “How much is it?” he suddenly asked. Elaine looked at Nathan as well as Martha. “Eighty pesos sir” replied the woman. Nathan brought out four twenty peso bills and handed it to Martha. “Here, consider it my treat” he said then smiled at Elaine and starts to walk away.
Elaine was surprised and Martha smiled at her. “Isn’t he great madam, that’s Sir Nathan a kind man” Martha stated. “I overheard you having a debt with him, does he own this station?” Elaine asked. “No, he just comes here three times a week to pick up packages. I met him a year ago, that time my daughter got sick and I did not have money to pay the bills. He noticed that I had a problem so I told him about it. He went to the hospital and he paid for everything” Martha recalled as tears started to gather in her eyes. “How much do you owe him?” Elaine inquired further.
“I don’t really know” Martha said. “You don’t know how much you owe him? Didn’t you check the hospital bill?” Elaine stated. “I did but all they said that it was settled already and I don’t have to worry about a thing. I tried to ask him but he would not say, every time I ask he just smiles at me and tells me to just pay when I can. So I saved around ten thousand pesos 3 months ago, I know that’s not the whole amount but at least I can partially pay off the debt. He took the money but came back the next day, he opened a bank account for me with that money” Martha revealed as tears were flowing down her cheeks.
“I see, a kind man indeed. Anyway do you know a good hotel where I can stay in?” Elaine asked Martha. “So sorry madam I don’t know any, you can ask Sir Nathan, he probably knows some” Martha answered.
“Maybe I will just ask the front desk for directions” Elaine said. “No need to be shy now, wait I will ask him for you” Martha said as she stood up and walked towards Nathan who was chatting with a driver. A few moments later they both were walking towards Elaine. “You see this young lady needs a hotel, could you at least bring her to one” Martha told Nathan. Nathan smiled at Elaine and said “Sure, can you just wait a few minutes, my package has not arrived. Just a few minutes if you can” he said and Elaine smiled and said yes.
“By the way my name is Elaine, please don’t call me madam anymore” she told the old lady. “I am Martha, nice to meet you, so are you here for a vacation?” she asked. Elaine thought hard about it, she had planned to just spend the night and go to where she intended to. “Yes I think I will be staying here a bit” she said. “Great! Maybe Sir Nathan can show you around while you are here” Martha added.
“Oh no, it’s already too embarrassing and his wife might get mad if she knew he was touring me around” Elaine stated. Martha started to laugh, “Madam, he is single and available, and I should say you two would look great as a couple” and Elaine began to blush. “Oh that is if you are single”
Elaine looked at Nathan who was carrying his package and walking towards them. “A kind heart….looks good too” Elaine softly comments. “He is a rare find don’t you think” Martha whispers and they both start giggling.
“You two seem to be happy, that’s nice. Well sorry to make you wait, here let me take your bag” and Nathan reached for Elaine’s bag. “No its okay I can manage” she said but Nathan grabs it, “No let me I insist, and you look tired and hungry already so we should be going. Thanks for the goodies Martha! Please follow me this way my car is parked over there” he said. Elaine smiled at Martha and the old woman winked at her and they both giggle again. Nathan looked back and the two ladies acted innocent.
Nathan and Elaine had gone through all the hotels and Inn’s around the small city but all had no vacancy. They both sit in the car thinking then suddenly Nathan looks at Elaine and says “Shhh can you hear that?” Elaine looks around and tries to listen closely, she looks at Nathan and asks “What is it?” and with a serious face Nathan said “That sound…your stomach is grumbling…you are hungry already” and he starts laughing. Elaine pouted and faced front and her stomach started to make sounds again. She blushed and started laughing with Nathan. “Let’s go eat, I have not eaten dinner too” he says and starts his car.
The two of them enter a fancy restaurant, and once they got a table Elaine started to get shy again. “Hey what’s the matter? Come on pick what food you want to eat” Nathan said. “It’s just too embarrassing already, I mean first the snack then helping me find a hotel, now treating me to dinner” she said. Nathan looked at her surprised and said “Treat you to dinner? I didn’t say that. I don’t treat people I don’t know to dinner on the first meeting.” Elaine became more embarrassed and tried to hide her face on the menu. Nathan started laughing again and Elaine looked at him. He stopped laughing then reached out his hand towards her. “Hi I am Nathan, and you are?”
Elaine looked confused and remembers they have not been formally introduced by Martha. She takes out her hand and says “I am Elaine” and they shook hands. “Okay now that I know you I can treat you to dinner, so order whatever you want” Nathan said smiling. Elaine laughed for a moment but started to look at the menu again and started choosing.
After dinner they went back to the car and Nathan stopped to think. “Hey, I know we just met but its late already so would you like to spend the night at my place?” he tells her. Elaine looked at him feeling nervous then looks away. “Please don’t get the wrong idea here, I mean you no harm, I’m just offering you a place to stay. Then tomorrow we can go find you a room at a hotel” he adds upon seeing her reaction. Elaine bowed her head and softly said “Okay, I guess” and Nathan starts the car and drives to his place.
Nathan stops the car in front of a small gloomy looking house. Elaine looked at the house and then looked at Nathan. “Okay here we are home sweet home” he says and opens his door. Elaine looks at the house once more and her jaw drops then she hears Nathan laughing once again. He shuts his door and starts the engine once again and keeps laughing. “You should have seen the look on your face, of course that’s not my house, no one lives there you know” he said and Elaine said “You really scared me there; I really thought that was your place because you were so serious.”
Nathan keeps laughing and tells her “hey I’m just fooling around with you; I noticed you were so tense. Would it help if I tell you I am gay?” Elaine was startled and looks at him once again. “You are gay?” she asks. “Well if it helps you to be at ease with me then I am gay” he said laughing. Elaine pouted and was about to smile when Nathan added “or would it help you more if I said I was not attracted to you?” and he looked at her.
Elaine understood what he was trying to do; he was just trying to make her feel comfortable with him. “Being gay would be fine” she answered and laughed. Nathan stopped laughing and said “Oh so you don’t believe me when I say I am not attracted to you?” Elaine looked at him and raised her eyebrow, “well they say I’m pretty, I think I’m pretty, and you are a man so I think in some way you are attracted to me.” Nathan puts on a serious face and says “well I am not” and Elaine felt angry hearing that since she was used to seeing men fall for her instantly. “I see its okay” she says. “Because I am gay remember, so gay people don’t find beautiful ladies like you attractive” and they both start laughing.
Elaine paused and thinks about what he said, he just called her beautiful. She felt happy and so she said “You just called me beautiful” and Nathan looked at her. “Did I?” Nathan asked. Elaine smiled and giggled and said “So you do find me attractive then” and Nathan looks at her. He looks at the road and smiled. “Here we are” Nathan says and parks the car in front of a huge house. Elaine looked at the house and was mesmerized, it was such a beautiful house but she looked at Nathan at once. Nathan went out of the car and opened the trunk to get her bag and his package. Elaine didn’t go out of the car even though Nathan had opened the door for her.
“Come on out, this is my place” he says. “You are kidding me again right?” she tells him. Nathan looks at her then starts to walk towards the house but looks back at her. “If you want to sleep there it would be fine, I will just bring you a blanket and pillow. And do you know that there are lots of ghosts out here”. Elaine rushed out of the car and ran towards Nathan and held on to his arm. Nathan laughed loud and told her to go back and close the door. Elaine didn’t move an inch so Nathan said “Okay hang on, wait by the door I will lock the car door” and he starts to walk back towards the car. Elaine tagged along holding to his arm and Nathan laughed and laughed until they got to the house door.
Nathan opens the door and Elaine enters the house. He brings in the bag and package then closes the door and locks it. Elaine was standing still and looking around, and then she looked at Nathan, “You live alone?” she asked. He laid down the package on a small table then carried the bag towards the stairs, “Follow me I will show to your room” he said. She followed him as he went up the stairs, he opened a door and said “Here you go, it has its own toilet and bath, a terrace. If you need anything else just yell” he said. Elaine entered the room and walks slowly towards the bed; she looks around a bit then sits on the bed. “Okay then I will leave you now, have a good sleep. “ Nathan said and pushed the door lock then closed the door.
She lay on the bed and briefly closed her eyes. Her plan was to just stay for the night and in the morning she would catch a bus towards her sunny destination but now she was thinking of staying. She rises and walks towards the terrace door; she steps out and looks up at the starry sky then she smiles.