Even Lydia Leynes, a beautiful lady from the north of Negros Occidental became my live-in partner, which gave me terrible problems with my job. I was out of the job instantly; I was totally broke when things got better which brought hope to my life.

Edward was the one I enjoyed being with, for it gave me the freedom to reveal something deep down in my heart. He was there for me to listen to whatever I wanted to say, whatever I wanted to do with my life at the moment. He suggested working again in the restaurant. I hesitated at first, but my hopeless situation told me to accept the job.

I felt down and out I missed her…them…her…

XXX

Danielles father invited me to the Sugarlandia Hotel to talk about his daughters status in life. I went directly to the place, asked for information on the counter, and sat in the lounge. I felt some doubts within me, that I couldn explain. Is it I am afraid, afraid of what? Fear..? Fear of rejection? Or I was not ready to meet him face to face?

Mr. Gustilo was the governor of the Negros Island; a high-ranking official in the Sugar Industry with lots of influences in the political arena and a wealthy family in the south of the island. As my investigator Mr. Rudy Neri reported; Gustilos family had private armies in their stead to support them politically and privately. He was the elected governor of the island. A wealthy and powerful one!

I walked slowly along with the lobby, went to the end of the building, and found room 101 on the left side wing. At the front door, I started to ring the doorbell. Two uniformed men welcomed me inside and brought me to a naked room with a small table and two chairs. They seated me in a chair facing the wall and left. In a few minutes, I heard the doorknob move slowly and felt somebody enter the room. I didn move a bit, still facing the wall. I smelled his perfume. He tapped my left shoulder and sat in front of me. He looked at me squarely, eye to eye, but I maintained my posture trying to be brave, responsible, and a gentleman. He extended his hand to me for a handshake. I accepted his right hand and said, ”Good morning Governor, nice to meet you. ”

Still, he hadn said a word; he moved slowly, called his men, and faced me again. My stomach squirmed with fear, even my eyes kept on rolling in every direction.

”Im Gov. Gustilo, father of Danielle Gustilo. I wanted to talk to you about my daughter. You know, theres no secret of Danielle that I didn know of. Even you, I knew you all along. I love Danielle, shes my only child. As a father, Im willing to give all that she wanted in life. I think you know me as a political leader of this island. With my social status, I cannot divulge my daughters relationship with you. I wanted this to be…a secret matter. ”

I was listening, watching him; his forehead, eyebrows, eyes, nose, lips, and his facial expression. My mind kept on wondering what will be the outcome of marrying her daughter, or, marrying Ayah Isabel?

Suddenly, a uniformed man entered the door and put the black bag on the table, and left. Mr. Gustilo looked at it, me too, my eyes on the bag in front of me. I glanced halfway across the room but settled to face Mr. Gustilo instead. His eyes met with mine, knowing that I fully understood what he wanted me to do.

”Marc, I want you to take this bag, its full of money, but I want you to marry Danielle. This money is nothing to me but it can help you in any way you want, to start a new life with Danielle. Take this money and marry my daughter… ”

I was amazed by his action, the conversation that I didn imagine beforehand. Shocked by his action…agitated, I edged a little and straightened my sitting position. The dryness of my throat started to bring an uneasy feeling inside and out.

”Mr. Gustilo, your daughter knows about this meeting? ” I asked coming from my shrilled throat.

”No, shes nothing to do with this, besides shes on the farm right now. Do you like to visit her? ”

”Sir, to tell you frankly, Im surprised by this event and I couldn decide right now. Would you please give me some time to think it over….in a weeks time, Sir? ” I saw him, and his facial expression changed.

”Okay then Marco, well meet after a week at the same place, just ask the hotels information counter for our meeting schedule. Thank you for your time and nice meeting you. ”

I left the room feeling exhausted. I sat down in the hotel lobby to compose myself. A few minutes later, I went home. With a heavy heart, I went to the kitchen, checked the fridge, opened a bottle of beer, and drank bottoms up. I opened another one, for leveling up with what I was thinking. It bothered me; why did I have to decide this way? Why on earth had I to choose between these two women? And, why its happening to me? Whats important to me…Money, Family Life, Comfortable life…or being me?

I slept the whole afternoon when I woke up darkness crept on the face of the earth. Thinking of something exciting, I took a bath, dressed ruggedly; grabbed a taxi cab to head to Edwards place. Besides the Riviera Café & Restaurant, I purchased a bottle of cough syrup in the pharmacy store, put it in my pocket, and entered the restaurant going straight to the comfort room. I looked around for intruders of what I was doing inside the cubicle. Negative. I opened the cough syrup bottle, drank the contents at once, and threw the empty bottle in the waste bin. I hurriedly walked towards the dining area looking for Edward.

”Whats the matter, friend? Are you alright? ” Edward asked.

”Quick…quick, hurry!! Give me a slice of lemon..go..go.. ” Edward provided a slice of lemon and I sucked it like a baby, closing my eyes, and felt comfortable.

”Boss Edward, could you please give me two shots of espresso coffee? Charge to your account, Ill pay you next week? Afterward a cup of Americano coffee, please… ”

Edward looked at me angrily. He knew me too well why I ordered this way. ”Marco, no problem for the coffee…not again my friend—for that stuff… Why, whats the problem? ”

”Isn it payday today? Well paint the town red my friend!! Ill wait for you, okay? I have something to tell you tonight, a big one! ” I exclaimed.

”Okay, Marco take your seat, be calm, and have your coffee, please wait my friend. ”

I positioned myself at the corner of the dining section camouflaging for customers. I started to drink my two shots of espresso instantly, then, slowly consumed the Americano coffee. Within a few minutes, I felt contented with the chemical reaction of the cough syrup – one bottle. 120 ml.

I waited for Edward until ten in the evening. We left the restaurant together, hailed a taxicab headed to our favorite disco house. The moment we were inside, the music banged with my energetic and spirited self. I danced along the hallway, while Edward kept on holding my right arm, telling me not to make a scene. We seated near the wall facing the dance floor; a suitable place for us to view the whole dance floor and the disco-goers.

Edward ordered a bottle of Jose Cuervo Tequila, a plate of beefsteak, and a plate of tuna kinilaw. ”Waiter, please lots of sliced lemons….and salt too. ”

”Yes sir got your orders, anything else sir? ” the waiter asked.

”Oh, by the way, may I know your name? You
e new here? ” Edward asked.

”My name is Joel Castellano Sir…Im new here. This is my second job as a waiter after graduating from the University of Negros Occidental. Tried to find a job with my course but failed. So, Im here working, waiting for my good luck to come. ”

”I see… me too, worked in a restaurant for a long time now; living alone…Im separated from my wife with two kids. Nice meeting you Joel. Visit me if you have time at Riviera Café & Restaurant in Lacson Street. ”

”Okay sir, Ill get your order now. Thank you! ”

”Okay, Joel could you please give us bowls of hot soup too? ”

”Yes sir…okay. ”

Edward asked me if I wanted to eat white rice to pacify my stomach. I nodded negatively. ”So, what do you want, Kinilaw and beefsteak only…or hot noodle soup? ”

”No I want to dance, the musics good! ” I said.

I stood at once, went to the dance floor, and started dancing to the beat of the music. I felt the earth move under my feet, the lights were moving in different directions, and beads of perspiration fell down the floor. My energetic stunt began to slow down when the music stopped. I held on to the dance floor railing catching my breath. I stood there for a few minutes and finally released a loud shout, ”Wheeeewwwww, great!!!! ”

XXX

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