The Enslave Story Part 14

THE calming scent of lavender and chamomile bubble bath soothed Monique’s tired body. Nilalaro ng kanyang mga palad ang mga pinong bula na nakalutang sa kabuuan ng bath tub. This scene felt so familiar to her. It was like a deja vu.

“‘Di ka pa ba matutulog, babe?”

“Hmmmm?” Napangiti si Monique sabay yakap kay Raffy, ang kanyang fiance.

“Bukas nalang yan, babe. Leave it to me,” he sheepishly smiled. Napailing nalang siya.

She’s unpacking his suitcase. Nasa Davao sila ngayon para sa isang business trip. Her fiance is trying to oversee the ongoing construction of his high rise condominium units. Hands-on ito sa pagpapatakbo ng negosyo. Even if naka-base sa Davao ang business partner nitong si Micheal, nakakahanap pa rin ito ng panahon para i-check ang progress ng construction. Right now, they’re at the Marco Polo Hotel. Inaayos niya ang mga gamit nito sapagkat kung hindi, tiyak na hahayaan lang nito na magulo ang mga gamit.

“Are you sure, you’re not gonna stay here?” Nagpapa-cute na tanong nito sa kanya habang dahan-dahang hinahawakan ang kanyang baywang.

“You know I can’t be here. No, strike that. You know I shouldn’t be here,” sagot niya. And she gave him a quick peck on the lips.

“I’ll go to my room now. Good night, Raffy baby.” She hugged him tight. He hugged her back and kissed her.

“‘Lika na.”

“What?”

“‘Lika na. Hatid na kita sa room mo.”

“No way. What am I? A four-year-old?” Natawa nalang siya.

He made face and pulled her out of the room.

“Seriously, babe, you don’t need to walk me to my room. Hello, we’re like two rooms apart,” aniya sabay tawa.

He just grunted. Ginawaran siya nito ng masuyong halik nang marating na nila ang kanyang suite room.

“‘Love you. Sleep tight, babe.”

“‘Love you too. ‘Night!”

She locked the door and headed straight to the bathroom to prepare her hot tub. Dahan dahan niyang ibinuhos ang bath salts sa tub. Babalikan niya nalang ito pagkatapos mag unpack ng mga gamit sa kanyang suitcase. Pagkatapos ayusin ang kanyang mga gamit ay lumublob na siya sa tub.

She was completely naked as she stepped into the tub. She let out a long sigh. Ngayon lang siya nakaramdam ng pagod. The feel of the warm bubble bath against her skin feels like a soothing balm. She reached for the loofah and started rubbing all over her body. As she squeezed it, she noticed that she’s still wearing her rings. Nakalimutan niya palang hubarin at ilagay sa dresser.

A sudden rush of happiness filled her heart while she’s staring at her two precious rings. Ang isa ay ang kanyang engagement ring. It’s a 4 karat Cartier princess cut diamond ring given to her by her fiance. Ang isa naman ay ang kanyang Tiffany & Co. platinum band chastity ring. Mahalaga ang singsing na iyon para sa kanya. Binigay ito ng kanyang mommy noong fifteen years old pa lang siya. It’s symbolic of her purity. She made a promise to God, to her mom, as well as to her own self that she will remain pure until marriage. And that she will only give herself to her husband and no one else.

Napangiti siya. She’s very thankful that she found the right man for her. Raffy is an epitome of a perfect boyfriend. Mabait, matalino, walang bisyo, at hands-on sa negosyo. And the best bonus is that he’s handsome and he perfectly understands her vow of chastity. He says that he loves her even more because of it. At sabi rin nito na mas nakaka-heighten daw ng kanilang sexual tension ang “waiting game” lalo pa’t papalapit na ang kanilang kasal.

MONIQUE woke up feeling refreshed. Ginising siya ni Raffy at sinabihang kailangan niya nang maghanda para sa kanilang early breakfast. She told him to wait up. She’ll just take a quick shower and bababa na sila. Matapos magshower, tinungo niya ang walk-in closet. She’s contemplating on what to wear. Alam niyang pupunta sila sa construction site kaya kailangang komportable ang suot niya.

“No stillettos and pumps huh,” she said while carefully checking each and every clothing she just unpacked last night.

Pinili niya ang isang mustard yellow Lacoste mid-thigh tennis dress. Since petite naman siya, hindi ito magmumukhang malaswa sa kanya. Plus, the color compliments her beyond-fair porcelain skin. She’ll pair it up with her white Nike sneakers. After dressing up, she blow-dried her hair so she could tie it up into a high pony. She grabbed her oversized Abercrombie canvas bag.

As she stepped out of her suite, she saw Raffy approaching towards her. He looks so dashing in an ash blue polo shirt tucked in his tailored jeans.

“So, are we heading to the golf course?” Biro niya rito while giving him a smack on the lips.

“You look so beautiful, babe.”

“And you’re equally handsome, Mr. Big Shot Business Tycoon.”

“You just simply know which buttons to push, ‘no?”

She just chuckled and they headed straight to the lobby to have their breakfast. He pulled up a chair for her. As she sat down, a familiar man approached their table.

“Michael, pare, it’s good to see you!” Halata ang fondness sa boses ni Raffy.

“Babe, you remember Michael? He’s my close friend from business school.”

She just nodded and smiled.

“We’re classmates in AdMU. Since then, we’ve been best friends,” singit ni Michael.

Again, she just smiled. Presko kasi ito. It actually kind of ruined her morning. And since she doesn’t want to upset her fiance, she just opted to be civil towards his business partner.

“Sit, have breakfast with us, pare.”

“Certainly, I wouldn’t pass on that offer, ‘tol.”

And so they had their breakfast. She had to painstakingly endure Michael’s braggy attitude for the entire duration of their meal.

“Hey, is that Xander?” Tanong ng kanyang fiance.

“It is! Huh, that bastard. What is he doing here?” sagot ni Michael.

“I’ll talk to him for a bit, babe, excuse me for a while.”

“Babe,” aniya sabay hawak sa kamay nito. “Don’t you think it’s inappropriate? I mean, are you gonna discuss business prospects with him? At this hour?”

“Yeah, but I’m just gonna ease into it slowly naman, babe. I’ll ask if he’s interested in putting up condo units in CDO.”

“But, you’re practically trying to ambush his peaceful breakfast with his wife, babe.”

“C’mon, Monique, it’s just some harmless business chitchat,” singit ni Michael.

“Besides, we’re not even sure if that’s really his wife,” dagdag pa nito sabay ngisi at nag fist bump pa kay Raffy.

She gave him a disgusted look before turning to her fiance.

“But don’t forget, we’re heading to the construction site, babe.”

He held her hand and kissed her cheek.

“So, Monique, how’s your restaurant?” tanong ni Michael nang makaalis na si Raffy.

He’s talking about her gourmet restaurant in Bonifacio Global City.

“It’s doing great.”

“But you’re also an interior designer, right?”

“Yeah.”

“Perhaps we can head to the construction site now? Alam ko tapos na ang showroom sa first floor. I think you can help with its interior design.”

“Sure. Raffy and I will go there later.”

“How about we go there now? Sigurado ako matatagalan pa si Raffy sa pakikipag usap kina Xander.”

“But…”

“Wait here, I’ll talk to him.”

Naglakad ito patungo kina Raffy. They talked for a bit and then she saw him heading towards her.

“Alright, Raffy told me to take you there. Let’s go?”

“What? P-pero…”

“Let’s go. Susunod nalang si Raffy.”

She looked at her fiance. Tumango ito at ngumiti sa kanila.

But she never stood up. Bakit naman siya sasama kay Michael?

“Come on, Monique.” Ani Michael sabay hawak sa braso niya.

She forcibly yanked her arm from his clutch. She smells trouble. Everything about Raffy’s business partner just screams bad news.

Nagkibit balikat lamang si Michael nang mapagtanto nitong wala talaga siyang planong sumama ritong mag isa. Ignoring him, she continued having her breakfast. Ilang minuto lang ay bumalik na sa kanilang mesa si Raffy. Tumabi ito sa kanya at pinunasan ang kanyang bibig. Kinuha niya naman ang kanyang bag at sabay na silang umalis papunta sa construction site…

NAPANGITI si Monique. It’s funny how a simple act of immersing yourself in a bath tub could take you in a trance… a certain hypnotic spell.

But like a fragile glass, a trance could easily be broken. And a hypnotic spell won’t last as long as you wish. Babalik at babalik ka pa rin sa realidad. The light that’s brought by your flaming hope will soon be consumed by darkness. And when that happens, reality will bite you in the ass and you’re left miserable.

Gaya nga ng sabi ni Dra. Delgado, mahilig siyang mag rationalize. Marahil ay sadista rin siya sapagkat paulit ulit na sumasagi sa kanyang isipan ang iba’t ibang eksena ng nakaraan. Just like now, this tub allowed her to think of the past and create a whole new alternate scene out of what happened to them before.

Paano nga kaya kung ganoon ang nangyari? Paano kung hindi siya sumama kay Michael sa ipinapagawang condominium building? What if she brushed Michael off and waited for Raffy to finish talking to Xander?

Would that be a guarantee that the cheating won’t take place? Or will it just delay the process because at some point, she will still succumb to her weakness and eventually cheat on Raffy?

CHAPTER 24

Baby

NAGMAMADALING bumalik patungong Maynila si Rafael kasama si Eon. Nakatanggap siya ng tawag mula sa mommy ni Monique. She was hysterical over the phone as she told him that Monique is nowhere to be found.

He could only imagine how scared Tita Consuelo was. Kaya naman ipinaliwag niyang mabuti kay Eon na kailangan na nilang umuwi. But he never told him the real reason. He just said that he needs to attend to some business.

Nang makarating na sila sa tahanan ng mga Velez ay agad silang sinalubong ng nag-aalalang si Yaya Mercy.

“Rafael, anak… Si Monique…” bulong nito. mahimbing kasing natutulog si Eon sa mga bisig niya.

“Hindi niyo pa rin ho ba siya na-contact?”

Umiling ito.

“Ano po palang nangyari, Yaya Mercy?”

“Hindi ko alam, hijo. Masaya pa nga siyang tumawag sa akin kahapon upang ipaalam na nagkausap na sila ng daddy niya,” anito. Batid ang lungkot at takot sa boses nito.

“‘Ya, iwan ko nalang po muna si Eon sa inyo. Hahanapin ko po si Monique.”

“Hinahanap na rin siya nina Bert at Ma’am Consuelo. Mabuti nalang at nasa ospital ang mga kapatid ni Sir Manolo. Mag-ingat ka, Rafael. Tumawag ka agad kapag may balita ka na kay Monique.”

Nang makapag-paalam na ay dumiretso siya sadating condo unit ni Monique. Despite his worries, he still believes that she’s okay. Marahil ay gusto lang muna nitong mapag-isa.

But he just arrived at an empty unit. Wala ring anumang bakas na nanggaling doon si Monique. Kaya nagmaneho siya papunta sa boutique ng matalik nitong kaibigan sa kolehiyo na si Camille.

“Hindi pa kami nagkikita. The last time she contacted me was when she was still in the States. Sabi niya uuwi raw siya kasama si Eon,” paliwanag ng best friend nito.

“Is… is she missing?” Nahihintakutang tanong ni Camille.

He shook his head. Ayaw niyang mag-alala pa ito.

“I hope you don’t mind me asking, but, a-are you two okay na?” Nag-aalangang tanong nito.

Ngumiti lang siya saka nagpaalam. Tinawagan niya si Tita Consuelo upang tanungin kung na-check na ba ng mga ito ang dating restaurant ni Monique sa BGC. Nailipat na ang pamamahala ng naturang restaurant sa mga magulang nito. It won’t hurt though if they’d check whether Monique’s in there. Pero sabi nito ay wala rin daw doon si Monique.

Doon na siya lubusang nabahala. A sudden pang of pain crossed his heart. Dati ay kabisado niya ang takbo ng utak nito. Kahit hindi pa nito sabihin, alam niya kung ano ang nais nito. Be it window shopping, eating out, or even just tight hugs. He knew her back then, he owned her.

But now, he has lost his touch. Wala na ang dating Raffy na eksperto pagdating sa dating kasintahan.

Kung anu-ano na ang tumatakbo sa isip niya. Baka ano na’ng nangyari kay Monique. As cliche as it sounds but it is indeed true that regret comes last. Pinagsisisihan niya ang lahat ng mga pagkakamaling nagawa niya. Kung sana lang nilawakan niya pa ang kanyang pang unawa. Na sana hindi siya nagpadala sa galit. Na sana hindi niya nagawang saktan ang babaeng minahal niya noon pa man.

Vivid thoughts of the happy moments he shared with Monique ran across his mind…

“‘Wag ka nang magtampo, baby, please?” He pressed his chin on her shoulders.

He can only see her profile as he is hugging her from the back but he’s certain that she’s pouting.

“Baby, I had to fetch Becca because her car’s busted,” dagdag pa niya. It wasn’t entirely a lie though. Hindi man sira ang sasakyan ni Rebecca ay hindi rin naman nito magagamit iyon dahil sa coding. Kinailangan niya itong sunduin. She has something that he needs.

“Hindi pala siya puwedeng mag-taxi?” Nakalabing turan nito.

Napahalakhak siya. Kung alam lang nito kung gaano kaarte si Rebecca.

“I’m sure she can call there family driver. Or her boyfriend, perhaps. Bakit kailangang ikaw pa?” Anito saka pilit na nagpumiglas.

Nakisuyo lang siya kay Rebecca para sa pinaplano niya para kay Monique. Nakatikim pa nga siya ng sermon kay Rebecca sapagkat sinasayang daw niya ang oras nito. Pero sino pa nga bang malalapitan siya sa ganitong bagay kun’di si Becca lang?

He has finally decided to settle down. Kaka-graduate lang ni Monique sa kolehiyo at sa palagay niya kaya na nilang bumuo ng pamilya. Nailipat na rin sa kanya ang pamamahala ng kanilang real estate business. Sa edad na bente kuwatro, handa na siya sa anumang responsibilidad na kaakibat ng pagbuo ng isang pamilya. And he’s sure that he does not want to settle down with anyone else but this woman beside him.

And all he wants is the best for her. Kaya nga kinulit niya ang kanyang best friend na tulungan siya sa pagpili ng engagement ring. Rebecca comes from an affluent family. She’s born with a silver spoon in her mouth. She grew up in luxury and class. So it is but fitting and proper to ask for her help in finding the most elegant engagement ring that would suit Monique’s finger perfectly.

Ipinagpaalam niya ito kina Tita Consuelo at Tito Manolo. Bago pa man iyon ay humingi na rin siya ng basbas sa mga ito. Laking tuwa niya nang pumayag ang mga ito sa plano niyang pagpapakasal kay Monique. Kaya naman matapos ang graduation nito ay tumulak na sila sa isang bahay bakasyunan sa Tagaytay.

Casa Ysabela is owned by his godfather. It was a private vacation house which was purposely built for the his wife. Ang arkitektura niyon ay ginaya pa diumano sa bahay na kinalakhan ng kanyang ninang sa Espanya. The house exudes a cozy and romantic vibe. Perpekto iyon sa plano niyang pag-propose kay Monique.

They watched the sky as it transitioned into a monochrome of indigo and orange hues. Nakahilig ang ulo ni Monique sa kanyang balikat. He pulled her close and kissed the top of her head.

He inhaled deeply. He’s not a fan of cheesy whatnots. Hindi na siya lumuhod pa. Kinabig niya lang ito ng mahigpit.

“I know this is too soon, but I can’t wait any longer. When you were in high school, when you asked me to be your escort to your prom even though I’m already in college, I knew back then that you’re the one. Kinaya kong maghintay, at kaya ko pang maghintay. But I want to wait while fully knowing that you’re mine to keep. Kung hindi ka pa handa, okay lang. Maghihintay pa rin ako… Just, please spend your lifetime with me, Monique Valerie Velez…”

Hinawakan niya ang mga balikat nito at pinaharap sa kanya. Sunud-sunod ang pagpatak ng luha nito habang tila hindi makapaniwalang tumitig sa kanya.

Hinaplos nito ang kanyang pisngi at tumango tango. “Yes, I’ll spend my lifetime with you, Rafael Ephraim Gamboa,” sa wakas ay sagot nito kahit hilam ng luha ang mga mata…

That was the best day of his life. Just the two of them, pledging their love, overlooking the perfect view of Casa Ysabela.

Casa Ysabela…

Could Monique be there?

“BAWAL po talaga, Ma’am eh. Private property po kasi ito,” anang security guard kay Monique.

She drove a long way just to be in this place. This perfect place where she had the best memories in her life prior to Eon.

Her impromptu therapy session with Dra. Delgado left her physically, mentally, and emotionally drained. She wanted to escape. She wanted to break free. Kung hindi niya iyon ibibigay sa kanyang sarili ay masisiraan na siya ng bait.

Napatitig siya sa kahoy na arko kung saan nakaulit ang pamilyar na mga titik.

Casa Ysabela…

The letters were elegantly etched. Napapaligiran din iyon ng mga gumagapang na halaman at bulaklak. Dumako ang tingin niya sa loob. Abot-tanaw niya ang poolside kung saan nag-propose si Raffy sa kanya noon.

Ibinalik niya ang tining sa kawaksi.

“Magbabayad naman po ako. Sige na ho…” pakiusap niya.

“Hindi talaga pwede, ma’am—”

“Manong?”

Napalingon si Monique sa nagsalita. She saw a girl with prominent mestiza features, probably sixteen or seventeen years old.

“Seorita, may gusto pong pumasok—”

“I just want to spend the night here. I promise, I’ll pay. Please…” hiling niya.

“I’m sorry, Miss. But Casa Ysabela is not open to guests,” hinging paumanhin ng dalagita.

Nanlumo siya. Nagsimula na siyang maglakad palayo nang tawagin siya nito.

“Miss, how did you know about this place?”

Huminga siya ng malalim bago nagsalita.

“This is where I got engaged…”

Tila nakiramdam ang dalagita. Makaraan ang ilang sandali ay pinapasok siya nito. Nagprotesta pa ang guard pero iginiya na siya ng babae sa loob.

“I’m Katarina Erica Isabelle,” anito sabay tawa. “But you can just call me ‘Kei’.”

“Thanks, Kei. I’m Monique,” taos pusong pasasalamat sabay lahad ng kamay. Inilapag niya rin sa couch ang kanyang LV tote na naglalaman ng iilang damit.

Kei shook her hand.

“I’ll get going, Miss Monique. Kung may kailangan po kayo, just ask the caretakers. Nasa quarters lang sila sa likod.”

Tumango siya saka nagpasalamat. When Kei left, she found herself walking towards the poolside. The crimson-hued sky reminded her of Raffy’s proposal.

Masayang masaya siya noong mga panahong iyon. Ang akala niya ay magiging masaya rin siya ngayon. Na kahit sandali man lang ay maramdaman niya ulit na maging buo at masaya. Pero taliwas sa inaasahan ay mas lalo pa siyang nasaktan.

Dusk came. She decided to go inside the house. The bar counter was just so inviting. She picked one aged Sauvignon Blanc. Bahala na. Magbabayad naman siya.

NABUHAYAN ng loob si Raffy nang mamataan ang kotse ni Monique na nakaparada sa labas ng Casa Ysabela.

“Kuya Raff!” Sigaw ng dalagita na kabababa lang din mula sa isang SUV.

“Kei! Ang laki mo na. You were this little when I last saw you,” aniya sabay muwestra kung gaano lang kaliit ang kanyang kinakapatid noon.

“Hey, kiddo, did someone come here? Petite, fair-skinned—”

“And pretty!” Putol nito sa iba pang sasabihin niya. “Yes, nasa loob. ‘You know her?”

“Yeah,” sabi nalang niya. They went in and he easily spotted Monique at the gazebo. May bitbit itong halos wala nang laman na bote ng alak.

Naglakad siya palapit dito. Hindi yata nito naramdaman ang kanyang presensya. When she suddenly turned, she lost her balance.

“Nique!” Agap niya. Hinawakan niya ito sa baywang bago pa ito tuluyang mabuwal. Napapalatak siya. Lasing na nga ito.

When she looked at him, he saw genuine fear in her eyes.

“T-Take your hands off me!” Sigaw nito habang nagpupumiglas.

Pero hindi niya ito pinakawalan.

“No…! Please! L-let me go!” Patuloy pa rin ito sa pagpupumiglas. Ngunit dahil sa alak ay wala itong lakas kaya natatakot siyang pakawalan ito dahil baka mawalan ito ng balanse. Wala ring tigil ang pag-iyak nito.

“Nique,” aniya habang hinihigpitan ang pagkakayakap dito.

“P-parang awa mo na, M-Michael, ‘wag mong gawin sa’kin ‘to…” Nanginginig ito sa loob ng kanyang mga bisig.

Napatiim-bagang siya. He was too blinded by what Michael told him before. He was so outraged when he told him that Monique begged him to fuck her to the point that he never thought whether he took her against her will.

“Baby, tahan na. Sssshhh, it’s me, Raffy… I’m here.”

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