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“Alina! Alina!” Cried the children. Their giggles were contagious. It was a very late visit yet they were still awake.

“They stayed up when they heard you’re coming. I just let them since they miss you,” said Miss Joyce. She was in-charge in facilitating the charity. At 46, devoting her life to these kids was what kept her going.

I hugged the woman, “Sorry to bother you this late. I just knew it at the last minute- ops!” Shara—the youngest in the charity jumped at me, giggling. The hug with Joyce was shortened by Shara’s spontaneity. “Careful, Shara. You’ll get hurt,” I kissed her roly-poly cheek. Her natural black curls that adorned her crown almost covered her eyes they were beautiful on her.

“Don’t mention it, Alina. We’re happy to see you again. She just turned five last Sunday.”

I gasped in surprise. “Oh, happy birthday, Shara! You’ve grown up so fast, so sweet— and heavy,” I said then laughed to see her pout her lips as I brought her down to the floor.

“You didn’t come, Alina. You forgot,” her tone was that of hurt and displeased.

I smiled, “Who says I forgot?”

And there, Alessandro walked in with a huge pink Teddy bear in his arms. “Happy birthday, Little one!”

“Sandro! Teddy!” Shara jumped for joy, running towards him.

It was heartwarming to see such an adorable reaction. It truly overwhelmed my heart. The other kids rushed forward, excited to see what he had stored for them.

Things are like that here. You can’t surprise one with a gift and leave the other feeling envious, may it be a birthday or merely a surprise. Everybody gets a treat. Providentially, anything and everything we bring to the place, they are all excited to receive.

“He visits twice a month and every time, I have to tell the kids you’re sick and can’t see them.” Said Joyce beside me.

The kids followed him outside where we parked the car. The treats were in the trunk.

I rustled a sigh, “I thought if I’d stay, he’d be reminded of her sister’s death over again.”

“It wasn’t your fault.”

“I don’t know what to make of it... It’s difficult.”

I felt her touch on my shoulder, “Let him grieve for her, Alina, but do not think he blames you for what happened. I never think he does. The man was lost when you left him. He didn’t say anything about it but I could see it in his eyes. Imagine how painful it is to lose a loved one and then lose you all of the sudden.”

“He changed,”

“He’s the same. It’s the situation that changed, but don’t let it decide your circumstances.”

The children were cheerfully babbling their way back in, looking elated with their treats in their hands. Alessandro was still carrying the Teddy bear for Shara who looked so charmed. He looked pleased himself. The creases on his forehead were gone; his tight smile was replaced with a genuine one.

When his eyes met mine, I immediately turned to Joyce and pretended to listen. In all honesty, I was listening to her talking about the upcoming event next month yet the other half of my senses were following him.

I sighed down.

Joyce was right, I shouldn’t let the circumstances change us and change what we used to have.



“I have to be early for work tomorrow,” I said when we safely arrived home. He was silent throughout the drive. After we had played with the kids for a few minutes and had tea with Joyce, we went our way.

We just arrived home and parked the car.

“You’re not going to work tomorrow,” he said as he turned off the engine.

I could feel my brows knit together. “What do you mean? I need to work. I have my tasks left unfinished when you decided to snatch me out of my office.”

“Did you just sneer at me?” His eyes squinted.

“I didn’t,” I equaled his stare. I did sound sneering; it was a natural response. Why he wouldn’t let me go to work? “I have to work tomorrow. There are things I need to do.”

“I already spoke with Rodriguez, you’ve got a week’s notice of your resignation. ”

“What?!” I couldn’t believe him.

My eyes followed his nonchalant movement as he took the key out, opened the door, and walked away. I was left inside the car, feeling dumb by his offhand decision.

He knew my boss.

That’s not even questionable. Finding me had not taken him long, and I was okay with it. But my job? A week’s resignation notice? He’s giving me a kink on my neck. What he could have possibly done?!

With all possible haste, I followed him. He almost reached the door to his room when I firmly called him. His steps halted. And that made me quicken my steps up the stairs.

“I will work tomorrow. I don’t care how you knew my boss. It’s my job, my responsibility. Your personal issue is yours to resolve. Leave my job alone.” I asserted with a will. And with that, I turned around, marched to my room, and locked it.

My back leaned on the door, I felt breathless at how I had fought him back through heated stares. I could still feel his cold eyes that seemed to glimmer with fire. He was angry, I knew that. It constantly annoyed him when I disobeyed his orders. It didn’t mean he had had the full authority over me, but I gave him that docility; I always concede to whatever he asked of me.

This time was different. If I had to change the circumstances around us, I had to start changing my own circumstance. I couldn’t let him run my life for me. And that should start with my job. I found it, made myself through it, and worked my way into it. I couldn’t see any reasons why he had to interdict me...unless... he wanted me to suffer.

My heart clenched. He wouldn’t do that, would he?

My knees seemed to waver, so I let my body slide off the door down to the floor.

When did it all begin?

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