Arriving at the mall, I was too parched after walking under the blazing ray of the sun. It’s too hot in here, and even if our uniforms were as thin as a paper, it’s still not enough to alleviate the heat.
As expected, the mall was crowded with students who were either grabbing some dinner from fast food restaurants (it was the only place they could afford to eat at with their allowance and all) or who were just wandering around and relaxing after being locked up inside the classroom for the whole day. Nevertheless, it didn’t upset Stephanie. She was too busy with her phone, talking to that guy she was on a blind date with.
“Well? Where are you meeting up?” I asked, looking around the place and seeing nothing but people too busy with their own business, whatever it was. If it wasn’t for Stephanie, I would have gone home and watched those cliché telenovelas airing during the afternoon, hating it as much as dad. But still, we couldn’t stop watching it. It’s too addictive.
“He said to go to Italiannis,” she answered, turning to look at me. “That’s on the second floor.”
I wouldn’t lie, I was awed at the guy picking a rather expensive place to eat dinner, with a student from a public school. But now that I was thinking about it, was he some kind of rich kid? Because some rich kids tend to be assholes, and I didn’t want Stephanie affiliated with that kind of person. “Really? What’s his name again?” I asked, not remembering if I already inquired any details about Stephanie’s blind date. All I know was that they were meeting today, and she wanted me to come as a bodyguard.
“Remus,” Stephanie answered, her cheeks turning crimson as soon as she spoke his name.
“What? Remus what?” I asked, rolling my eyes at her. “Don’t tell me he doesn’t have a surname.”
“It’s Martinez. Why does it matter?” she snapped, pouting at me.
“Well, maybe because you might be dating a cow for all I know,” I sarcastically answered. “Anyway, how long have you been talking?”
We made our way up the stairs, using the escalator. I eyed the two girls in front of us, dressed in a uniform from a prestigious college school near this place. They smelled like flowers and I assumed it was from their expensive perfume bought by their parents. They looked posh and arrogant, as they talked to each other with that conyo (1) accent of them that I always hated.
“Hmm, three weeks?” She sounded skeptical, and I didn’t like that.
“Do you really have to meet him?” I asked, showing her my genuine concern. I might be a bitch, but I really care about Stephanie. We had been friends ever since we were in elementary and I already treat her as my sister.
“Of course,” she said, nodding at me. “I have to meet him! I like him already!”
“How can you like someone you haven’t even met yet?”
“Don’t you know how dating works today, Iza?” Stephanie teased, wiggling her brows at me. “People have sex,” she said, whispering the last word as if it was taboo, “right the first time they meet! It’s called a one-night stand,” she whispered directly in my ear.
I wanted to laugh at how hard she’s trying to stifle her voice. We’re in the mall for fuck sake. No one would even care what we’re talking about. Everyone was busy minding their own business. But because it’s Stephanie and she’s afraid someone from the same church might hear her talking about sex, a very normal thing two people engaged in when they’re in the mood, it always put her off. But then again, it’s hard for Stephanie to conceal her inner desire when everyone in the classroom already lost the v-card before they stepped eleventh grade.
“Yes, I know what that’s called, Stephanie,” I said. I’m not acting like I’m better than her. I’m a virgin myself and I had no intention of losing it before I meet the one, but I could understand Stephanie’s anxiety. She was already dubbed as the Christian girl, the one who always follow the rules and most times, the girls in our class would look down at her, as they feel like she didn’t belong with them. Stephanie was too conservative, with the way she acts—so old-fashioned and devout, I wanted to tell her it doesn’t matter what her beliefs were as it wouldn’t define who she was, I knew it wouldn’t help Stephanie get her confidence back. And it’s not like she could just change. She’s stuck in between satisfying her parents and finding the people she would call friends.
“I’m so excited. He’s so handsome too!”
“How handsome?” I asked, pursing my lip at her. “Let me see the pic and I’ll be the one to judge of how handsome this Remus is.”
Stephanie handed me her phone and I saw a guy facing the camera, grinning boyishly at the frame. He looked like he was the same age as we were. Tanned skin, crystal-clear skin, a deep dimple on the right side of his cheek, I had to say, he might be a little handsome. “Hmm, not bad, Steph.”
“I know, right?!” Stephanie squealed, harshly tugging my arm as she almost jumped in excitement.
“What school is he from?” I asked.
We were interrupted when someone suddenly bumped into my shoulder. I felt an electric jolt coursing through my body, and it hurt. Turning around, I glared at the guy who collided with me, annoyed that he didn’t even apologize. I would have said sorry if it was my fault, but I knew it wasn’t, and I wouldn’t let that pass.
“Hey,” I called, waiting for the guy to turn around. He was tall and was wearing a jean jacket that looked so hot, I almost felt sorry for him on wearing that. Finally, he turned to look at me and I was…
His eyes were fierce, piercing deep through my soul. His perfectly shaped lips parted open as he stared at me for a second, completely oblivious to why I called him. Underneath the sweltering jacket he’s wearing, I could see a tattoo peeking out of his neck and I briefly wondered what was drawn onto his skin. The guy’s jaw was sharp, matching that pointed nose of his that reminded me of those immaculate male models I often stare at when walking past those posters in clothing stores. I always thought it was photoshopped, as people like that were impossible to exist as they were too perfect. But right now, right at this moment, a man who I thought was only possible to appear in those Greek books I always read in the past stood in front of me, eyeing me with those greyish orbs of his.
For a second, I thought I was almost sucked into his stare. “Yes?” he asked, and I was surprised that he was polite. His deep voice sent shivers down my spine, and I felt a blush creeping in my cheeks.
“Y-you…you bumped into me,” I said, quickly regretting how my voice went small and shy all of a sudden.
“Oh, really? I’m sorry,” he sincerely apologized, bowing courtly at me. He turned around, walking aimlessly into the crowd. Soon, he vanished.
“Hey. Hey, Iza? You okay?” Stephanie asked while she nudged me by the elbow.
I snapped out of my trance and realized how fast my heart was beating. I looked at Stephanie, still in dazed. “Y-yeah, I’m fine.”
“Are you sure?” she asked, furrowing her brows at me. “You look like your soul has been snatched, dude.”
I gulped, looking at the crowd in hopes of finding that guy again. “Maybe.”
Maybe he did.
I sat beside Stephanie, feeling uncomfortably left out when she and the guy she’s on a blind date with talked like they had known each other for years. Remus Martinez was a loud guy, but he had a charm that definitely captivated Stephanie. He was nice and knew how to converse with a reserved girl like Stephanie. I could tell right off the bat that he was loaded, just from the latest iPhone he was using, and the designer sling backpack he had. And the fact that he brought us in a place like Italiannis, though not a five-star restaurant, was still a pricey place to hold your first date. Especially if you two were still students living in your allowance.
“So, you’ve been friends for a long time?” Remus asked, eyeing me in interest. I was thankful for him to treat me. It’s not like I could eat pasta that cost six hundred and ninety-five pesos.
“Yeah, we’re like siblings,” Stephanie answered for me. I acted like I was focused on finishing the food, but I couldn’t even taste it as I was in an awkward position. “So, what school do you go to, Remus?” she asked, her eyes sparkling in delight as she stared at him as if he was the most handsome guy she had met.
Remus grinned at her. “It’s a little far away from here and it’s not that famous.”
“What? Is it like for the elites or something?” Stephanie pressed.
For a shy woman who was worried about her religious beliefs, she was certainly pushy. “No, nothing like that,” Remus replied. “Your school is famous, isn’t it? You always win at sports competitions.”
“Oh, you know about that?” Stephanie asked, amazed that he had done his research about her. I bet she already told a hundred things about her to a guy she barely knew. “It’s all because we have Isaiah here,” she said, using my real name instead of the feminine nickname she gave me. “He’s really good in sports. And fighting too!”
Remus blinked at me, amused. “Is that so?”
“I’m not that much,” I said, forcing a smile at her.
“Oh, don’t be humble,” Stephanie cooed. “He’s really good. Very competitive too.”
“Is that why you brought him today? Because you’re worried I might be a creep?” Remus teased, laughing as soon as he said that.
Stephanie laughed with him, not even noticing how sarcastic that statement was. Nonetheless, I kept my mouth shut. I didn’t want to ruin her supposedly dream date with this guy.
While Remus and Stephanie were fixated on flattering each other’s ass, I decided to observe the guy to see if he was a match for my gullible friend. As far as looks go by, he had it. I wouldn’t deny he was a good-looking lad, and without a doubt, he was Stephanie’s ideal guy. With his boy-next-door smile and that annoying dimple that almost looked like it was carved by someone, not to mention those coffee-colored eyes of his, he’s definitely a catch. And I’m sure Stephanie wouldn’t let him go as easy as that. Hell, I’m positive she’d offer her virginity to this guy—that’s how entranced she was.
One thing I couldn’t understand about Remus. Why was he wearing a damn jacket when it’s like thirty-degree Celsius out there? He reminded me of that guy I bumped into—ah, fuck, that guy. My mind briefly wandered off, imagining the guy’s face in my mind. He was totally my type, and even if he had that ridiculous jacket, I could tell he had the pecs I would admire. I could just bury my face on it and smell that muscular scent that I always wanted to—
I gasped, snapping my head at Stephanie who had been calling me loudly. “W-what?”
“You okay?” she asked.
I looked around and saw Remus was gone. “Where’s your date?” I asked.
“He went to the bathroom.” Narrowing her eyes at me, she scowled. “You’ve been acting so weirdly. What’s happening to you, huh?”
“Nothing. Nothing’s happening,” I said, forcing a laugh at her. I didn’t want to tell Stephanie I found someone I was interested in. Besides, it’s not like we’re going to meet again. But…if he was in this mall, maybe he lived nearby? He looked like he was the same age as me, or maybe even younger? He might be a giant, but that face looked so young and vibrant, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was younger than me.
“I think I like him,” Stephanie said, her voice turning dreamy. It disgusted me. “He’s much handsome than his pictures. And he’s really kind too! We both have the same hobbies!”
“What? He’s also into praying?” I joked.
She hit me on the arm from laughing. “Shut up! He likes reading too and watching movies and Netflix series, gosh, he’s perfect.”
“That’s like everyone’s hobby, Steph,” I said as I smirked in amusement.
“Will you stop contradicting me for once?” she grumbled, glaring at me.
“Okay, okay, live your life, whatever.”
Remus returned to the table, that ever-lasting smile still on his face. “So, you ready to get out of here?” he asked.
“Wait, where are you going?” I asked.
“We’re just going to walk around,” Stephanie said, grinning at me. “You can go home now, Isaiah.”
I raised a brow at him. “Sorry, but I’d rather not do that,” I said, standing up to collect my bag. “I’ll be the one bringing her home.”
Remus eyed me. “Of course, I respect that,” he said. “I’m still a stranger, after all.”
Walking around the mall, going in and out of stores just to look at nothing, I was bored out of my mind. But I didn’t complain and just followed the two like I was their bodyguard. I would have gone home, but I wanted to make sure Stephanie gets out of this date unscathed. Or else, I wouldn’t forgive myself.
An hour turned into two, and I was exhausted. Stephanie and Remus were still going around, not even looking at the items but were just talking while wandering off. We went into a store three times already and even the clerk looked at us funny, probably wondering if we’re going to buy anything. I wanted to tell them I needed my break, as my feet were already hurting like a bitch. But they were too engrossed in whatever they were talking, it’s hard to get their attention.
Finally, Remus’ phone rang, and they stopped for him to take the call. I sighed in relief, silently glaring at Stephanie who was oblivious to my rage. It’s already eight in the evening, she had to go home or else she’d be scolded by her father. And I know how vicious that pastor could be when angered.
“Oh, hey, boss,” Remus chirped, turning around to prevent us from hearing whatever conversation they’re having.
I tugged Stephanie’s arm to make her look at me. “Isn’t it about time we go home?” I asked through gritted teeth.
“What? It’s still early,” Stephanie riposted, puffing her cheeks at me.
I wanted to yell at her and tell her it’s way past her curfew but before I could, Remus was already done with his call. He turned to us and said, “hey, so sorry but I need to go.”
Oh fuck, thank God! I rejoiced inside. “Oh, that’s fine!” I said, interrupting what Stephanie had to say to continue their boring date. “Don’t worry about Steph, I’ll take her home.”
Remus smiled at me. “Don’t worry, I have a car.”
Stephanie’s grin turned big and she clasped her hands in glee. “Is that so? Thank you! That beats waiting for the jeep in the terminal!”
I wanted to groan out loud but didn’t anyway. Of course, he had a car. What else could this guy do to make Stephanie swoon over him? “Let’s go?” he urged, nodding his head at me.
“I’ll take that ride,” I said, rolling my eyes at him. Thankfully, he didn’t see it.
We walked to the parking lot with Stephanie and Remus still yapping their mouths as if there were still hobbies they hadn’t talked about yet. I was tired of hearing his voice and wanted nothing else but to go home and sleep.
Remus stopped in front of a silver Mercedes Benz sedan, and both Stephanie and I had our mouths gaping open in awe. “W-wait, you own that?” I asked, not even masking my amazement. How the heck could this guy afford a luxury car?! Out of all the vehicles parked here, his was the only that looked extremely expensive, and it almost blinded me.
“Yes?” Remus asked, raising a brow at me for asking a funny question. “Is it bad?”
“No!” Stephanie yelped, laughing nervously at him.
“Well, shall we go? I can drop you off at your house,” he said, opening the door for his date.
I sat on the back, still speechless at what this guy was showing to us. One thing for sure, Remus Martinez was a loaded guy. And he loved to show it off to impress people. The leather seat felt comfortable to the touch, and I wouldn’t mind sleeping here for the night. It smelled like brand new, for fuck sake.
Remus started the car and the dashboard lit up like stars in the night sky. Stephanie sat beside him, and like me, she was also intimidated at everything. She wasn’t probably expecting her blind date would be this wealthy.
“So, where to do you two live?” Remus asked, waiting for us to tell him our address to put it in his GPS.
“We live near each other,” Stephanie replied. “At Dapdap street.”
Remus drove us to our house. I sat in the back, looking outside the window while Remus and Stephanie were talking about how the date went. I picked up bits of what they were talking about and apparently, they’re already setting up another date, probably without me this time. As much as I hated admitting it, I couldn’t find anything bad I could pin on this guy. Well, except that he didn’t know when to stop talking. But other than that, Remus was perfect. Different from those douches Stephanie used to meet up. This guy was in another league.
“You’re an only child?” Remus asked, eyeing Stephanie while his hands were glued in the steering wheel.
“Yes,” she replied, shyly. “And that’s why my parents are very strict with me. How about you, Rem?” I almost gagged at her for giving him a nickname. “How many siblings do you have?”
“I have two older brothers. They’re all adults now and is taking care of our family business,” Remus answered.
“Family business? What do you do?” she asked, interested in what he had to say about himself.
I listened closely. “Oh, nothing much, just construction stuff.”
Yeah, nothing much. That would explain why he’s loaded. “That’s really cool. My mom’s an accountant, while my dad is working in a school.”
“A teacher?” Remus inquired.
Stephanie nodded. “Yes. He’s also a pastor in our church.”
Remus didn’t reply to that and I bet it’s because he didn’t want to.
As promised, Remus dropped us to our respective houses. Stephanie got off first, waving a hand at Remus who told her he’d text her soon. He drove me next to my house. I was expecting he’d drive off, but he got out of his car and walked towards me before I could get inside.
“Hey, Isaiah. Isaiah, right?” he asked, his tone drastically changing from gentle to smug. “Next time, don’t come, okay?” he warned, smirking at me.
I raised a brow at him. He’s showing his colors now that Stephanie was gone. Good. Very good. “And why not?” I asked, smirking back at him.
And here I thought he’d be a perfect match for her. It was the right decision to come and guard her. Pricks like this fucker always existed, and for her to snag a wealthy dude who was also nice and a gentleman, in your Wattpad dreams.
“Well, I’m really interested in your friend,” he said with a shrug. “I can’t bang her if you’re there. Unless, of course, you want to join,” he said, his smirk deepening.
My fist moved on its own and I punched him straight on the face. It happened too fast that he didn’t even know what happened. He dropped on the floor, clutching his bloody nose. “W-what the fuck?!” he yelled, glaring at me with his hazed eyes.
I whisked the blood off my knuckles, gripping his shirt to force him to stand up. People who were walking on the street saw the commotion and they all stopped, wondering what was going on. “If I ever see you contacting my friend again, I’ll fucking rip your balls off, Martinez,” I threatened before shoving him off me.
He scampered, hands still on his face to stop his nose from bleeding. “You’ll fucking pay for this, you bitch!” he warned.
I watched him drive away like a pussy, spitting on the side of the road in disgust. “Fucking ass—”
I froze when I felt dad’s piercing glare coming from the door of our house. “Isaiah Julian!”
I cowered in fear, eyeing dad in remorse.
Ah, fuck. Damn it! Why did he have to see that?!
(1) The word conyo often refers to a language where people speak Taglish — a combination of the English and Filipino languages — in a fussy way. Using this language may also exhibit that speakers have limited knowledge of either language and have to code-switch.
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