She closed the gate of the big house. Then, she stopped and looked around. It was a sunny winter day. It would be muddy later on because of the melting snow under the sun. She looked around her. There were only a few people around who were bustling with their daily activities—either going to work, school or somewhere else.
Her eyes rounded when she saw a man shoveling the snow from his garage all the way toward the gate so that his car wouldn’t get stuck in the snow. Perhaps, the street snow cleaners were already done earlier that day and he had to shovel the rest of the snow. His back was right to her and she couldn’t see his face. And yet, her heart was drumming so hard.
Then, a handsome face of a man came into her mind. And she recognized this man. He was tanned as ever. He was well built. His slightly beaky nose was looking arrogant as ever. The set of his jaw and lips were strong and manly. And his hair seemed thicker and curlier than usual. Didn’t he have a haircut at all?
Just when did he arrive? Has he found me yet? She nervously thought and asked herself.
“Alodia, let’s go,” Nicu, the little Romanian boy seemed to wake her up from her dreamy state.
She turned around right away before the man who was shoveling the snow would see her. She was really nervous… and afraid.
“Let’s go,” she agreed with the little kid.
They still had to walk toward the bus station to commute. One of her employer’s cars, the one she usually uses, was broken and wasn’t repaired yet, while the other one was used by her employer, Nicu’s mother, who was a career woman. They had been together for quite a while now. It was already about 3 years and they were quite close like friends or even family.
She wasn’t only Nicu’s stay-in governess but also his nanny. And she loved him like her own. Therefore, she would do everything for him like his own mother.
She would send and pick him up from school every day. And whenever she finished every household chore, she would either cross stitch or cook for the three of them.
“I saw you staring at that man back there. Our new neighbor,” Nicu observed. While speaking English, he got the other passengers’ attention. She was half-Asian (Filipino to be exact) and half-American. Her late mother was a Filipino and her runaway and irresponsible father was American, whom she never met. And she was the only Asian in Iaşi City, which also made her an attention-getter.
Even though Romania was not particularly a very rich country because it was also the world’s source of workforce around Europe and other rich countries, it was seldom that Romanians meet someone like her everyday. And there were also a lot of poor people in the country like the gypsies. Some were even opportunists just to get by.
And yet, there was this one particular gypsy man that she gave her heart to. It was Harman Mihalache. The man that she just saw was shoveling the snow just across her employer’s house.
“Are you listening to me, Alodia?” Nicu tugged at her scarf to get her attention when she didn’t answer.
“Huh? I’m sorry. Did you say anything, Nicu?” She asked. She was lost in her thought while staring at the bus window.
She thought that she had already forgotten all about him within those three years. But then, she hadn’t. And she had to remember that she had countless sleepless nights because of him. But she had to forget him.
And if they really loved each other truly, then she had to endure this another heartache in her life…
“I wanna surprise Mama. Maybe we could go to the mall first and then we’ll go to her office after school.” Nicu suggested.
She blinked without comprehension. “Why are we going to surprise her?” she asked the little blond boy.
He sighed. “You really were not listening to me, Alodia. It’s Mama’s birthday! Did you just forget about it?”
She laughed half-heartedly. “Of course not!” But she did forget about it. It was gone if she did ever remember it earlier. It was because of Harman’s fault for appearing in her life again. “I was… thinking if I could make some salad and bake some cake for her birthday,” she lied.
He nodded but his eyes were still full of doubt. “I think you’re disturbed or something today.”
Who? Me? Disturbed? Her mind echoed. Then, she laughed again at the little kid. She was of course! And not only disturbed, but she was also worried and stressed to the highest level!
What if Harman saw her because she was just living right in front of his house? Well, if it was really his new home now. She even got away from Bucharest so their paths won’t cross again but here he was! In Iaşi! Where else in Romania could she hide from him?
However, she couldn’t just easily get away as she wanted to. She had no other family other than Nicoleta’s.
She said goodbye to Nicu when she already made sure that he was in his classroom. She went to the mall to buy the necessary ingredients that she was going to use for baking and cooking. She was going to prepare for Nicoleta’s birthday. She was sure that the latter would be happy about it.
While looking for the ingredients in mind, she didn’t notice the man who was pushing his cart that was filled with groceries. She bumped into it and some canned goods hit her shoulder. She groaned in pain while massaging that part.
“Pardon!” she heard the man’s voice who spoke in Romanian. That familiar voice.
She tried hard not to look over her shoulder. But damn that neck of hers. It seemed to have its own mind and turned toward the owner of that voice. It seemed that time and space didn’t exist as they looked into each other’s eyes. Those black curly lashes and dark brown eyes…
“Alodia?” He recognized her instantly.
She looked in front of her to escape from his staring eyes. She quickly took the things she was going to buy and walked away fast. She wanted to get away from him as soon as possible. But he chased her and held her arm.
“Let me go!” She said firmly without turning and looking at him.
“I have been looking for you for years!” He told her.
She couldn’t stop herself from looking him in the eyes then. He what? He was looking for her for years? When was it? Since she was gone? But why? Didn’t he understand why she went away? He should have known it by now! And he should have hated her! Was that why he stopped her because he wanted to confront her?
She swallowed and blinked. She raised her chin because he was way taller than her five feet two.
“And there’s nothing to talk about, is there?” Even though she was a bit guilty, she didn’t want to show it to this man.
She tried hard to take back her arm and went to the cashier to pay.
But he was still on her heels. She could hear the soft steps of his shoes against the tiled floor of the mall. She knew that his strides were longer than hers. But she tried hard to ignore him.
She paid everything and he followed her quickly without paying. But the staff there chased Harman to make him pay for the goods. When she looked over her shoulder, she could see that he took a deep breath and took some money from his wallet and paid everything. Afterward, he chased her again outside the mall.
“Alodia!” He called her name.
But she didn’t turn around like she never heard anything. She hailed a cab and got in quickly. She shook her head at the taxi driver. She told him the address and they were off.
“I think he’s calling you, miss,” he said in Romanian while peering at his rearview mirror.
“I don’t know him,” was her only reply.
But the driver grinned at her. He obviously didn’t believe her. But she didn’t care.
“Looks like he knows you well, then. Besides, he’s after us now, driving his car,” he revealed.
Her jaw hung open.
She looked behind them and she could tell that it was that brand and make of the car that she saw in his garage earlier this morning.
“Shit!” she cursed. She then turned to the driver. “Could you lose him, please? I will pay you handsomely,” she requested the driver.
“Well, if you say so,” he grinned at her again and stepped harder on the accelerator as long as the traffic could permit.
However, Harman was still on their tail. She calculated the money that was on her. Could she really pay for the taxi? She was pissed. She ground her teeth and her heart was beating so hard. Why was he so persistent?
She then decided to tell the driver to just send her to the address she’d given him. She paid him before she got off from the cab. He then winked at her.
“Seems like he won’t let you go, miss.” The fat driver grinned widely.
She didn’t answer and the driver waved at her before he took off. She quickly took the keys from her winter coat and put it inside the lock of the gate before Harman could park his car.
“Alodia!” He called her. But she was already inside the gate and locked it fast enough. She ran toward the big house and when she was in, she also locked the door.
She took a deep breath and rested her back against the door. She was out of breath after their chase. She then decided to peer from window. She could see that he was still out there, staring at the big house of her employer.
Her heart seemed to be crumpled so tightly in her chest. His face looked so sad and his shoulders were slumped. She swallowed hard. She blinked away the tears that were forming in her eyes. She had to stand her ground of not going to see him and talk to him again despite of what she felt for him until now.
After a few moments, he turned around and walked away. But she knew damn well that he was going to come back. He already knew where she was. And should she get out of Nicoleta’s haven of a home?
Her employer knew her story with Harman. It was because she thought of her as a friend. And she was a good person and a good soul. She understood why she did it to Harman.
“But wouldn’t you need to talk about it before you decided to do what you had to?” Nicoleta asked her then.
It was like only yesterday. But it was already 3 years ago. And she blinked again to try to shake it off from her memory. She went to the kitchen instead.
She had to keep herself busy so that she wouldn’t think about Harman and what was in the past when they were still together. She had to remind herself that it was all a game and nothing more!
She just had to forget everything that was between them even though he was just nearby. Even if he was going to confront her or not…
She sighed when all the “ifs” started to appear in her mind.
Five years ago…
After she finished the contract as a nanny/maid in Bucharest, she decided to go home to the Philippines. It was when her world was like hit by a strong earthquake when she learned that her beloved twin sister passed away without her knowledge.
“What? If I weren’t home I wouldn’t know that my sister died?” she cried at her distant cousin and aunt, her only family left.
They were dressed in black when they picked her up at the airport. She wanted to hit someone because it hurt so badly. She grieved of her passing. It was only when she was in the cab when they told her about it. And they went to the funeral home directly.
“She would’ve picked me up at the airport. She was full of life and was happy when I called her and told her the other day that I was coming home!” She told the mother and daughter.
Her sister was living with them because they didn’t have their own house anymore since their father left for America and never heard from him again. And it was the cause of their mother’s death.
She finished culinary arts in the so-called TESDA, a government program given and open to all citizens especially for the poor ones. However, she ended up being a nanny/maid in Romania because of certain circumstances. And she had to do it so that her twin sister could finish a degree in Business Administration. And her sister just graduated and she was supposedly here to celebrate it with her. Then, she continued to cry her heart out while her cousin was telling her the story.
“I think it’s that Emerson who’s the reason why Alyana killed herself,” Karen was grinding her teeth as she talked, she was seated next to her while her aunt was sitting beside the taxi driver.
She and Karen were of the same again and because they were growing up together, they were close but not as close as her sister and her cousin.
Her aunt looked at them. She also looked at the older woman who was like a second a mother to her. Her eyes narrowed. She knew the man, alright. It was her sister’s boyfriend and she knew that they were in love with each other, or so she thought now that Alyana ended up like this. And she always took her sister’s word seriously.
“Why? What about Emerson?” she asked her cousin.
“Karen…” It seemed that her aunt didn’t want to tell her something. So, she looked at the older woman once again.
“Aunt Korina, what has Emerson got to do with my twin sister’s suicide? Why did she hang herself?” She could almost not bear to ask such question. Until now, it was still unbelievable that her sister would do it to herself just because of a man! She just couldn’t comprehend it.
Her aunt let out a sigh. She didn’t answer her right away.
“Tell her what you heard, mother,” Karen pressed on while her glance shifted from the mother to the daughter, her tears still rolling down her cheeks.
The older woman let out another sigh before she spoke. “I heard that they were talking on the cellphone. They were fighting, I realized. They were fighting over a woman that Alyana saw kissed her boyfriend Emerson near the Ladies Room in the university. I couldn’t hear Emerson’s reason then. I just heard that Alyana told him that if he wouldn’t stop being a playboy she is going to kill herself. And that fight happened a month ago, Alodia. And…” her aunt also broke into tears and was forced to pause. And when she composed herself, she continued to speak. “And she was happy again after that fight. They got back together, from the look of it. So, she was happy when you and your sister talked the other day, before you flew home. But yesterday…” she shook her head as she looked at her.
“We just found her that she already hung herself in her room. Yesterday morning. Her body was already stiff. The police said that she was already dead the previous night.” Karen finished off her mom’s words as she also cried.
She didn’t want to imagine how her twin sister looked like when her cousin and aunt found her. She just grieved even more because of it. She couldn’t bear to think how her sister looked like then. And how she must had suffered when she was still alive and hanging! She swallowed hard once again to ease out what she felt even for a little bit.
“We thought she just went into her room early because she was tired from submitting her application for a job that day. She’d been working hard to find a job, you know? She didn’t even eat dinner that night.” Karen continued on telling her the last moments of Alyana’s life. “When I knocked on her door, she didn’t reply. I thought she just slept early…”
Her tears just wouldn’t stop from running down her cheeks when she heard it… until they arrived at the funeral home. There were a few neighbors and some of their family friends who were present there, offered their condolences to them. Some embraced her to comfort her and some kissed her and murmured some words to lighten up her heart. She nodded and thanked all of them.
Then, she stepped nearer to the coffin where her twin sister rested. She looked at her sister’s smiling face in the picture frame that was placed on top of the open coffin. She was so beautiful on her graduation day. She caressed the face of her sister and then, she looked at the woman lying there. Her face was pale even with the makeup on. She caressed the glass of the coffin and cried hard.
“Alyana!” Her voice got hoarse when she screamed her sister’s name. She put her arms over the coffin as if to embrace her dead sister.
She shook her head as she cried. Then, her cousin and aunt came up behind her and held her tightly. They tried to comfort each other while their neighbors and friends looked on with pity.
Her sister was buried in her grave without the priest’s blessing. It was the church’s rule that whoever died in suicide weren’t given the privilege to have a church mass and a grave blessing before the dead body was buried.
She thought hard what she could do while she waited for her new two-year contract in Romania. She had at least two months of vacation. She found this time to be of use to her as she thought about her sister’s death.
She went to Greenhills, a rich condo area that was famous in the country. She knew that her sister’s boyfriend was living there.
She was full of hatred to this man. She wanted to tell it to his face. Even his shadow wasn’t in her sister’s funeral. And it had already been a few days since she stalked him and she learned of his daily routine.
“Are you going to do something to Emerson, Alodia?” her cousin asked worriedly when she asked for Emerson’s address.
“I’ll just talk to him, Karen,” she assured her cousin.
“Do you need me to accompany you?” Her cousin queried.
She shook her head. “No. I can do it myself and there’s no need for you to worry.” But still, Karen’s eyes were full of concern and worry of what she might do to Emerson. She knew that her cousin was only concerned about her.
She blew her breath before she pressed the doorbell button.
“Alyana?” Emerson’s face was surprised to see her there when he opened the door.
Why? Didn’t he recognize her? Didn’t he know that Alyana had a twin sister? Then, an idea came up in her mind. She slowly smiled at him. So, there was a way that she could avenge her sister’s death while her sister was not resting in peace in her unblessed grave.
“Why? You didn’t expect me to come today, hon?” She learned about her twin sister’s endearment to him when he called while she was on Skype with her sister.
“I-I thought that…” he said haltingly.
She pushed him by his chest and went into the condo unit. Just when she looked around, a naked woman came out of the bathroom. The latter was frozen to see her holding hands with Emerson.
“Hon, did you think that I was already dead?” she turned to look at Emerson and let go of his hand like she never saw the naked woman.
He blinked while looking at her. “A-Alyana…” He started.
“I was just so pissed off of you that’s why I spread out the news that I was already dead. I even anticipated that you would come to my funeral. But when you still didn’t come to our house, I decided to stop my prank and come to you instead. I want us to get back together, hon.” Then, she caressed his broad chest with what she considered was sensual enough to arouse him.
He blinked at her like he couldn’t believe his ears.
She looked at him. He was quite a muscular man with a boyish-looking face and hair and fair skin. She thought that he was just the right kind of man that her sister would like to have as a boyfriend. But he wasn’t her type. She loved her man to be manly, dark and with oozing sex appeal. Emerson was boring for her taste. And until now, she hadn’t found a man that made her attracted to so much.
“Alyana, I thought that you don’t…” he started once again.
“What? Aren’t you going to chase this woman away or not?” it sounded like she threatened him.
The woman had her mouth open and she just threw her a mocking smile while taking note of her sexy body. But her boobs were just so big that they were like a pair papayas that were ready to fall from the tree.
“Grace, could you leave us alone?” He looked at the other woman who was still standing there, listening and watching them, who didn’t seem to take notice of her nakedness.
“Emerson! Is it because of the…?” the other woman started to protest.
“Will you leave us now? I just want to talk to my girlfriend here,” he said in a firmer tone.
The woman was pissed. She took a robe and covered her body. Then, she took her clothes as well as her purse and marched out of the condo unit, slamming the door behind her.
She turned to him when the other woman left angrily. He smiled at her and he embraced her waist. She could feel his hard manhood that was against her abdomen. She wanted to throw up because of it.
“I missed you so much, honey!” he started to kiss her cheek and neck. When he was about to kiss her mouth, she evaded it and pushed him toward the bed. “Playing hard to get now, Alyana?” he could almost not believe it.
Does this mean that something already happened between him and my sister? Could it be the reason why my sister wanted to die because he is a damn filthy player? But is this the reason as well that she couldn’t break their relationship because they had already made love?
Her hands balled into fists while thinking these questions. She hated this man more than ever. And she wanted to give him a lesson!
“Hon, just think of this like I am… playing with you.” He said with a sexy grin that he could ever make.
She blinked. And she had just devised a plan. “Well… okay. Besides, I… missed you already. But… I’ll play with you because you always give in to me anyway.”
Did she just say that in a sexy way? Alright. She’d give him what he wants. She pushed him hard toward the bed and he laid down there with a grin on his face. She watched him close his eyes. He was indeed anticipating something like a naughty game she’d play with him. Deep inside, her heart was reaching out to strangle this man to death.
She looked for something to tie him up with. And she found a duct tape in one of his dresser drawers. She took off his clothes, tied his hands and ankles apart to the headboard and the foot of the bed.
She surveyed her accomplishment. His eyes were still closed and the grin was just wasn’t wiped off from his face. She looked at him with hatred and she wanted to puke because of his nakedness. She could see his manhood was so erect.
In reality, she’d never seen a naked man in her life. She never thought it could be so ugly like this! He was unshaved down there. She wondered how her sister could take it, and how could she made love to this man with an ugly penis!
She never understood why she killed herself because of this hateful person! How she really hated this man! If it weren’t a crime to kill a person, she would have already done it earlier!
She looked some more in his wardrobe and she noticed a whip as well as a belt. She took the former and went to the kitchen to get the ketchup, mayonnaise and cheese as well as spoon and fork. She went back to him who was still tied to the bed posts.
“Honey, just when did you know how to play?” He watched her when he saw what she had in her hands.
She smiled sweetly at him. And then, she poured the ketchup on his body. He moaned. Then, used the spoon to get some mayonnaise and spread them over his nipples, making a path toward his pelvic bones and thighs.
Yuck! And this jerk is enjoying it! She wanted to throw up. But she held on. She had to do this. She used the fork to scratch his manhood lightly. His body arched with more anticipation and desire as he moaned louder.
“Take off your dress, honey,” he begged and opened his eyes to watch her.
She tried her hardest to give him a sweet and alluring smile. “Later, honey. I’m gonna make you enjoy what I’ll do to you.” Then, she winked at him as she straightened up and beat the floor with the whip in her hand.
“Oh, alright.” He enjoyed watching her and he closed his eyes again.
Using the fork and spoon, she delayed his enjoyment. Afterward, she straightened once again and whipped the bed.
“I so love to hear that whip. And I love it when you’re naughty, honey,” he moaned.
She smiled triumphantly. “Hon, I’ll just go to the bathroom. I’ll be right back,” she whispered in his ear sweetly. “But you still have to close your eyes. No peeking!”
“Oh! OK, hon.” He nodded and grinned.
She took his cellphone that was on a nightstand and took pictures of his naked body tied to the bed posts. Later, she used the video as she whipped him. Only the lower part of her body was captured by the cellphone camera she properly place on the nightstand. She made sure that he was enjoying it as she whipped his legs and he was begging her to do it some more before she would make love to him.
In your dreams, bastard! And she whipped him again.
“Close your eyes, honey. I’m still not through with you,” she said sweetly.
Then, she stopped the video from his own cellphone camera and she sent the pictures and video to all his contacts that are in his phonebook. She smiled afterward.
The phone’s alert message tone rang.
“Hon, someone’s just sent me a text,” he said while his eyes were still closed.
She stepped toward the direction of the bathroom and from there, she answered sweetly. “You check the text later, hon! I’ll be out in a few moments and I’ll take you to heaven! OK?” She turned on the shower as if she was taking it.
She read the text messages as a reply to the pictures and video that she sent.
Dude! What happened to you? Why did you send me your scandalous pic and video? I’ll post these on my social media! Haha! Said the one who was named Carlos said.
Jerk! Are you nuts? A Sharon said.
You dirty bastard! I’ll get you for this, Emerson! A Teresa threatened.
She smiled at the text messages. Then, she wiped away her finger prints from the phone and everything she had touched in the condo unit. Afterward, she looked behind her while the man was still waiting for her patiently. There was a triumphant smile pasted on her lips as she left the condo unit with the door banged. She heard him cried, calling her sister’s name.
She gritted her teeth. From now on, she was going to play with men as her lamentation and grief for the death of her sister. By that, the male species would think that not every woman would fall into their charms and that not all women would fall in love with them blindly that they forgot their dignity and self-esteem.
There had been many who courted her. And in a short time, she let them all believe that she had fallen for them. Like what she did to Emerson, she did to all of them. Most of them did not stay in the country because of the shame that befell on themselves and to their family. However, no one was after her to sue her or report her to the authorities to avoid more shame.
She breathed in the summer breeze in Bucharest when her feet touched the ground. She just got off from the plane. She didn’t notice that her passport that she just put inside her purse with broken zipper fell off. She just walked toward the luggage area.
“Scuzaţi mă.” She heard a man’s baritone voice said. However, she didn’t pay any attention to it. Perhaps, it wasn’t her who he was talking to anyway. “Ah… Miss… Binundo, Alodia?”
She stopped walking. Then, she looked over her shoulder. She saw a tall, dark and handsome man who was wearing a pair of dark sunglasses. He was reading her passport that was in his hand. Her jaw fell. She walked back toward him and took her passport from him.
“Mulţumesc,” she thanked him and turned away after she took note of his beautiful facial features.
He had slightly beaky nose but it wasn’t at all ugly. His face was truly handsome with high cheek bones, thick but perfectly formed brows like they were sculpted deliberately, strong jaw and lips that looked hard and strong. And there was this hidden sensuality. Overall, he was a beautiful man. Beautiful like a Greek god.
Note to self. He’s a gorgeous gypsy-looking man with American accent!
“So, you know Romanian?” He spoke in English now while following her and his strides were strong so it didn’t take him much longer to catch up with her and walked beside her toward the luggage area.
“Yes, isn’t it obvious?” She returned and glanced at him.
“Are you free for coffee or something?” he suddenly asked.
She didn’t notice that she already stopped, looking at him. Her face flushed. Wow, she’d never seen such a man with cherry lips! And they looked so kissable!
Wait. What am I thinking? Why do I seem to be attracted to this stranger? She swallowed and cleared her throat. “I’m sorry. I don’t think I should go for a coffee or something with… a stranger.”
“If you think that I know your name and I’ll let you know my name, then we’re not strangers anymore, are we?” He logically said and shrugged his shoulders after a chuckle.
“No. But I don’t think I owe you…” she started.
“Then you owe me for picking up your passport,” he pointed out quickly. It looked like he didn’t want to accept “NO” for an answer.
She shook her head and started walking. “My employer should be waiting for me by now.”
“Your employer?” He was still on her heels.
“You should have already known my nationality from my passport. Right?” She bluntly said.
“Well, yes. But not all Filipinos are very poor.” He said logically. “How could I guess? You could be a tourist here.”
She snorted. This man has brains! She admired him for that aside from his being a good-looking person.
“By not a tourist you mean something else, don’t you?”
The man with cherry lips smiled. “I’m just… captivated by you since the moment I saw you.”
It wasn’t news to her. There had been many men who told her so, whether outside or inside of her country. She had a number of Romanian guys courting her. Nevertheless, no one had attracted her yet, especially after the death of her sister. She couldn’t believe in love anymore.
In her eyes, all men are the same. They just wanted one and the same thing from women. Women are merely their sex object. Just like Emerson treated Alyana.
She winced when she remembered her twin sister. How many masses should she offer just to have her sister’s soul saved from hell? And for how many years would she do it? If there was really hell, that is. Then, she took a deep breath.
“I saw you since we were in Istanbul airport,” she heard him.
She couldn’t believe it. She was open mouthed. But then she bit her lip and hid a smile. It was because she felt flattered.
Why didn’t I notice him before? But then, on second thought, I am not looking for a man. And yet, it wouldn’t hurt her if she’d play a game with him, would it? Even for only a short time. Wasn’t she entitled to even enjoy the man that was her type? It might not come in her way again.
She took the pen from her purse and took his hand. “This is my address and phone number if you’re interested to contact me.” She wrote the information there while the man was looking at her and was amused at what she was doing. “But now, I really have to go.” She looked at his face and left him.
“I’m Harman Mihalache!” He shouted behind her.
She just smiled at herself and took her luggage. She knew that her employer was already waiting for her outside the airport. She waved and smiled at him mysteriously.
He called her the next day. He told her that he had never forgotten her.
“What time should I pick you up?” He asked.
She could just imagine his captivating smile while she wrote her phone number and address on his palm yesterday at the airport.
“8 P.M. would be fine. I’m free every 8 P.M.” She told him.
And she asked herself why she had to tell him that specifically. What was missing was telling him that she had work as a stay-in nanny of a 5-year old girl from 7 AM. to 7 P.M. everyday except Sundays. And that she had good and understanding employers.
“Oh, then… that’s great!” She could clearly hear the satisfaction from his voice.
She was humming while she prepared after that call. Why did she seem to be inspired? Was it because of his calling her? Was it because of his invitation? But she had to remind herself that it was only a game and nothing more. Or else, she’d end up like her poor sister.
She could still remember the day when the result of the autopsy arrived. She was due to get back to Romania a day before when her aunt showed it to her.
“You need to see this, Alodia,” her aunt gave her the paper.
“What’s this, Aunt Korina?” She took the paper from her aunt’s hand and started reading it.
“That just arrived today. It is delivered by the police who investigated Alyana’s death. There was no foul play. She did hang herself and it was the cause of her death. But there’s another thing that they found out that we didn’t know about.”
She blinked as the words formed before her eyes. Her sister was at least two months pregnant. She swallowed hard. She shook her head and her heart was full of rage. It was also the cause why her sister chose to kill herself. She was sure of it.
“I wish that I should’ve killed that jerk Emerson instead of putting him to shame!” She said angrily that she crumpled the paper tightly.
Her aunt patted her shoulder. The older woman shook her head and her sad eyes looked at her seriously.
“It was only right that you didn’t kill him, Alodia. What will be your future then? I am sure that Alyana wouldn’t want you to suffer that’s why she chose to kill herself. She didn’t want to burden you because of what she did with Emerson. Whether we liked it or not, it was her choice!”
“But she was my only sister, Aunt Korina! To have a child with an irresponsible person wasn’t reason enough to kill herself!” She was teary eyed.
Her aunt nodded. “But it is too late now. Your sister is gone. And we have to accept that fact now. And you have to stop what you’re doing to men, Alodia. You’ll never know what karma will bring to you in return.” Her aunt advised her gently.
So, her aunt knew all about what she did to those bastards. Perhaps, she heard some rumors. Her cousin too might have had heard them and told her mother. But she didn’t care! Rumors would die naturally anyway. And she didn’t care what others think of her.
She just felt that justice in her hands was sweeter. It was better to make men cry… for a change…
She was brought to reality when her employer, Iustina, knocked on her door and told her that her visitor just arrived. She smiled and thanked her. After looking at herself in the mirror, she went out. Her feet were light. She couldn’t believe she was anticipating this.
She introduced Harman to the couple, her employers, Iustina and Petru. Just in case if Harman was coming back, they would already know him.
But wait, was he still single? Who knows if he had already a wife, a family for that matter? What if she was only a kind of pastime to him? Or, if he didn’t have a family yet, perhaps he already had a girlfriend somewhere? She didn’t want other women to end up like her sister. She didn’t want to snatch somebody else’s boyfriend for that matter. She had her own conscience after all.
“So, are you married?” She straightforwardly asked him while they ate their dinner at a restaurant in downtown Bucharest.
He chuckled. “No. Are you?” He returned that question to her.
“Really? I can find it hard to believe,” an eyebrow rose when she said it. She looked into his dark brown eyes.
“Why is that so?” he asked and ate a piece of his steak.
She pulled her mouth down and smiled. “Because you’re… a good-looking guy. I even doubt if you’ll tell me now that you’re single.”
“But I am!” He insisted.
Her smile faded away. She couldn’t just believe him entirely. “I want you to be honest with me, Harman.” She said seriously.
“I am being honest with you.” He looked her in the eye. “But are you being honest with me, Alodia?” He asked her. He held her gaze for a long time. There was something in his eyes that made her heart beat faster and stronger. However, she looked down at her plate and sliced her own beef steak to keep her mind balanced.
“If you mean about my being married or not, then I am not married. I can give you a special power of attorney to get my certificate of no marriage from my country if you wish,” she told him and looked at him before she ate a piece of the meat.
She chewed slowly while she looked at him. He then nodded at her as he was smiling at her.
“Very well. I’ll call up my lawyer first thing tomorrow morning so he can get your SPA. He’ll go to your embassy to request your certificate of no marriage in the Philippines.” He concluded.
She snorted softly at him. Well, she’d let him have his way. And she could test if she’d be having fun with this new kind of game she was playing with him, in which she was the only one who knew the game and its rules.
“That’s fine by me. How about… kids?” That was her another question thrown at him before she took a sip of red wine.
“No kids, no wife and no girlfriend or the so-called fling.” He answered with deliberate detail.
“I see. The same for me.” All she could say for now.
“No boyfriend ever since?” He bluntly asked her.
She was reminded of men that she left in shame. “No,” she smiled at him.
“Seriously?” It was his time to raise an eyebrow.
“I know, right? I’m already 24 but I never had a boyfriend ever since… since birth.” She slightly laughed at that and shook her head. “How about you? How many girlfriends have you had?”
“Just a couple of serious ones.” He said honestly, she could tell. She could read it in his eyes. She understood it. He was gorgeous after all. And he was sure an irresistible man whether he liked it or not. There was something different about him, his sex appeal and charisma, which drew him to her. She had to admit that her impression of him was totally different. He was truly different from all the men she met and knew in her entire life. And he was totally different from the ones that she had left with stained reputation.
“I see. So… how old are you again?” She queried.
“33. Got an issue with my age?” he chuckled after he said it and drank some wine from his own glass.
She smiled at that. She liked his subtle sense of humor.
“No. It’s not an issue to me. So, tell me more about yourself,” she knew that she was the one who had the upper hand of the conversation. In a way, she had a lot of practice with those men in the past. This was one way she could manipulate them then.
“Uh, well… not much. I used to sing since I was a little kid. I loved the job. Then I became a professional singer, went to Las Vegas since my teenage years… I went together with this band after I ran away from home… because I thought at the time that I couldn’t reach my dream if I were to stay in this country forever.” He looked away at her like he was seeing himself in a distance.
“You were a singer?” She couldn’t believe it and she couldn’t imagine it.
“Yes. Then, I got a little money out of it, which I saved for like 7 or 8 years… and then, I tried the Foreign Exchange market. I got lucky with the trading so that’s the money I used to put up my own software company 5 or 6 years ago.” He narrated.
“Wow! Pretty impressive. The fruit of your hard work, huh?” She was truly amazed and impressed of his life’s achievement.
“You could say that. Not all my people, the gypsies, have reached the place where I am today. You should agree with me.” He said and looked into her eyes with a toothless smile.
She nodded. He had a point. Most of the gypsies were singers, dancers and fortunetellers. The worst, they just stayed on the streets begging for money. Harman who was a self-made man gained her respect.
“Then, that makes you a sought-after bachelor around here.” She said airily with a careless gesture of her hand.
He chuckled again and drank his wine. “Aren’t you impressed? I have money now…”
She laughed at him. “Impressed? Well, I must admit that I am! But I don’t need your money, Harman.” She told him honestly. I just want to play a game with you. I just want to… have a taste of you… If I can… she thought naughtily as she looked him in the eye.
“I believe you. But it’s the reason why you’re working so hard in a foreign country. If I offer you money to become my girlfriend, won’t you leave your job for good?”
She laughed hard at that out-of-the-blue proposal. She shook her head. “You have a weird sense of humor, Harman. But I like it. And about your proposal, no thank you. I’m happy with my job. I love kids.”
“Then… perhaps we can remedy that part…” he deliberately let the sentence hang in the air. And she could get what he said between the lines. It was even as bright as the shining sun.
She laughed again. Yes, she was enjoying his company! The way that she’d never enjoyed anyone’s. What could Harman have that she liked him very much, that he was so different from all other men? This, she kept on thinking like an unsolved puzzle.
“Don’t you think it’s a bit early for a first date to talk about that part?” She asked him sweetly with slightly raised eyebrows and leaned toward him.
“Call me anything but I’m a straightforward person.” His crossed forearms were placed over the table to lean toward her, too.
“I can see that,” she nodded. She could very well smell the perfume he was using, which she loved so much. And she could see how his eyes strayed over her face, her bare shoulders and cleavage. For a moment, she was speechless. She could feel that he aroused desire not only from her heart but also from the most intimate part of her body. And it was only the mere caress of his eyes! She wondered what more he could do with those strong and yet gentle looking hands…
“I do really hope to know you much better, Alodia,” his voice was so low that she strained to hear him.
And why did she think it was so intimate at the back of her mind? She found it erotic that her sacral chakra was even ignited with that mere sentence! And the way he said her name, it was like her name was totally new to her.
Just focus, Alodia, she reminded herself. She even wanted to kick herself. She had to remember that she was only playing this game! But this time, it was different because she had to enjoy herself. And it wasn’t only because of her dead sister and those jerk male species. This was different. This was Harman and he was different. She could tell it from the moment she admired his physique at the airport.
“Well, I do hope to know more about you, too,” she answered softly with a mysterious smile to match.
He blinked and smiled at her. They clunk their wine glasses and drank. Afterward, they had a stroll at Water Fountain, still in downtown area. The lights were beautiful. It was good to listen to the water of the fountain.
“In the Philippines, we have this so-called Luneta. It’s the most popular park. It’s an historic place where everyone can freely roam around and do whatever one wishes to do. Like here, wherein people can have some picnic if they want to, sit on the benches, read something or whatsoever.” She told him conversationally as they walked on the brick-stoned pavement. Her hands gestured gracefully without effort.
“And is it also fine if lovers have a stroll there?” his eyes were twinkling. She could see them clearly even with the colored dim lights in the park. She could tell what was on his mind at that very moment. Instead of shying away or being uncomfortable, she found it amusing and exciting.
Just because it is Harman and not just some other guy. And whether you admit it or not, you really like him. Her mind reminded her.