Nikki couldn’t believe Iñigo was here. After graduation, he lived with his mom in the US. Three years later, he was bored and wanted to come back to the Phillipines. He got some of his subjects credited and is now enrolled at PUS.
Nikki was truly happy to see Iñigo. He was, after all, her date in the JS prom of Luke. Never mind that Iñigo got into trouble because of his bad-influence friends. As far as she was concerned, Iñigo was a nice guy. He didn’t even fight back when Luke punched him, unfairly accusing him of laughing at him when he and Joey broke up.
Iñigo smiled at her warmly and kissed her on the cheek. The simple beso-beso made Nikki blush.
“Nikki, you look great! Kamusta ka na?” Iñigo asked her.
“I’m okay naman. Medyo disabled pa coz I twisted my ankle a few days ago,” she replied, showing off her bandaged foot.
“Alam ko, Nikki. I heard from some of your classmates. May mga back subjects kasi ako. I need credits sa Philippine literature kaya classmate ko yung friend mong si Stacey. I just started yesterday.”
“What? Stacey’s in my class too! You mean classmates tayo sa Philippine Lit? Oh my gee!” Nikki replied excitedly.
“Ah talaga? Swerte naman, classmates tayo! By the way, did you receive the roses? Hindi ka nag reply eh.”
Nikki’s jaw dropped. Oh my gee again, it’s Iñigo pala! She couldn’t help but blush even deeper. She’s not sure how she felt about Iñigo but she felt butterflies in her stomach.
“Ah, um, yeah, I received them. Ikaw kasi you didn’t say it was from you! You didn’t sign the card eh.” Nikki told him.
“Nag text ako di ba? Ah, binura mo ma siguro yung number ko…” Iñigo replied, crestfallen that Nikki intentionally erased his number.
Nikki looked at him guiltily. “Uh, sorry Iñigo ha. I did erase your number. Akala ko kasi hindi ka na babalik sa Philippines eh”, she replied sheepishly.
Iñigo smiled. “It’s okay Nikki. I understand. Di naman ako matampuhin. Um, do you want to have merienda? Wala na din akong class.”
Just then Richard arrived. From afar, Nikki saw him climbing up the steps.
“Next time nalang, Nicolo. Daddy’s here na pala.”
Richard came up to them. Iñigo immediately extended his hand to the older gentleman.
“Mr. Lim, good to see you po!”
“O, Iñigo! Good to see you too. I didn’t know you were studying here. Akala ko nasa US ka na?” Richard asked with a smile.
“Kakabalik ko lang po. Naghahabol pa nga ako ng back subjects so baka two years pa bago ako maka graduate. Mauuna sa akin sina Luke at Nicolo.” he replied.
Richard tapped him on the shoulder. After what happened between Luke and Iñigo, he realized that he was a fine young man after all. He could easily have complained to the principal after Luke hit him intentionally and without provocation. Luke could have gotten expelled. But he chose to simply forgive Luke. Richard would always be grateful to him for that.
“Well then, I’ll see you around pa pala hijo. You’re welcome to come to the house anytime.”
“Salamat po,” he replied cordially.
Nikki smiled at Iñigo and waved goodbye as they made their way back to the car. She didn’t notice that someone was watching her from behind a pillar.
Nicolo was on his way to Nikki’s classroom when he saw her talking with Iñigo right outside. He stopped and frowned. He didn’t realize that Iñigo was back. He decided against continuing on and waited nearby instead. A short while later, Richard arrived. He saw them shake hands and talk animatedly. He even patted him on the back after. Parang ang close naman nina Tito Richard at ni Iñigo…
After they left, he decided to go back to the parking lot to meet up with his other friends. He ran into Iñigo again.
“Nicolo! Kamusta na?” Iñigo smiled and offered his hand to Nicolo, who took it hesitantly.
“Tol, andito ka na pala. Kelan ka pa umuwi?” Nicolo asked without much enthusiasm.
“Last week lang, pero kahapon lang ako naka start ng klase. Ang tagal bago ko naayos ang schedule ko eh.”
“Ah, ok” was Nicolo’s uninterested reply.
“Kamusta na kayo nina Luke? Ah, sya nga pala, kaklase ko si Nikki sa isang subject. Grabe, ang ganda lalo nya ngayon ah. Nagulat ako nung nakita ko sya kanina. Ibang iba na sya dun sa ‘Laura’ na nakasama ko noon sa West Teatro…” He had a faraway look in his eyes.
A scowl formed on Nicolo’s face. Sya kaya yung nagpadala ng roses kay Niknik? Iñigo didn’t notice his face as he was still busy thinking about Nikki.
“Kaibigan mo si Nikki di ba? Sa palagay mo, Tol, may pag-asa ba ako kung liligawan ko sya?” Iñigo asked, not realizing that Nicolo’s ears were already turning red from anger and jealousy.
“Ewan ko sa yo, mauna na ako.”
Iñigo was surprised at his reply. He looked at Nicolo and frowned but he had already turned to leave.
“Huh? Anong nangyari dun?” He scratched his head and walked the opposite way.
The next day, Nicolo rode with Luke going to their house. They were planning to study for a quiz. Nikki only had morning classes and went home ahead.
“Hi Niknik!” Nicolo tried to sound jolly when he saw her coming down the stairs.
Nikki smiled immediately. “Hi! Nicolo! Look,” she pointed at her foot, “no more bandage!”
Nicolo came closer and inspected her foot.
“Buti naman Niknik, ok ka na.”
Nikki noticed that he wasn’t his usual happy self. “Nicolo, are you okay? May sakit ka ba?”
“Wala, Niknik,” he smiled at her show of concern. “Ok lang ako.”
They sat on the sofa as Sabel brought them sandwiches. Luke went upstairs to shower first.
“Eat muna Nicolo so you’ll have energy to study,” Nikki said sweetly.
“Ang sweet mo naman Niknik!” he grinned widely for the first time today.
“Eh kasi hindi bagay sa yo to get payat. Bagay sa yo yung round face. Your cheeks are like marshmallows kasi eh!” Nikki laughed, remembering her secret name for Nicolo several years ago, that night she had the slumber party with Eman and Maya.
“Ah ganun, marshmallow pala ako ha!” He jumped to the seat beside her and started tickling her. Nikki screeched as Nicolo found his target, the sides of her waist.
“Aaaaayieee!! Nicolo, stop it na!” Nikki shrieked in between breaths.
Nikki and Nicolo didn’t hear Richard and Maya arrive. They two came from a doctor’s appointment for Matti. Richard was carrying Matti as he stepped into the house. He frowned upon seeing them but Maya covered her mouth and suppressed a giggle.
“What’s going on here?” Richard asked in a stern voice.
Nikki’s eyes widened upon hearing his voice. Nicolo stood up nervously.
“Um, we we’re just having fun. Nag-aasaran lang kami Dad.” Nikki replied softly.
Maya touched Richard’s arm gently.
“Nagkakatuwaan lang naman sila, Mahal. Nikki, Nicolo, wag lang masyadong maingay ha. Nakatulog na kasi si Matti, eh kanina pa ito iyak ng iyak sa bakuna.” Maya told them with a smile.
Richard looked at Maya. She stared at him meaningfully, gave him those reprimanding eyes that said, ‘ops, bawal mag tiger mode, Daddy pogi’. He sighed in resignation, and said nothing more. Luke came down from his room just then.
“Opo Tita Maya. Tito, pasensya na po. Hindi namin kayo nakitang dumating,” Nicolo replied.
“Sorry, Dad, Ma. Anyway, Nicolo and Kuya are gonna study na. I have no homework so I’ll just help Manang in the kitchen,” Nikki said.
“Hi Dad, Ma!” Luke greeted them loudly.
“Shhhhh!” Nikki and Nicolo said at the same time. Luke raised an eyebrow at Nicolo.
“Kuya, Matti’s asleep!” Nikki whispered.
“Oops, sorry. Dad, Ma, aral muna kami ni Nicolo for our quiz tomorrow,” Luke bade them goodbye. Richard followed the boys with his eyes as they made their way to the veranda. Then he turned to Nikki. Nikki was already biting her lip, expecting a sermon from him.
“Niks…,” he started.
“Dad, promise. Nag-aasaran lang kami, okay? We weren’t doing anything wrong”, Nikki defended herself.
Richard nodded. “I know, it’s just that…”
“Sino kaya yun?” Maya frowned. They weren’t expecting anyone.
The front door opened and Sabel let the visitor in. It was Iñigo. Nikki’s mouth hung open in surprise.
It was Richard who spoke first. “Hi Iñigo. Pasok ka”.
Sabel took Matti from Maya. “Ako na muna kay Matti, Maya.”
“Thanks Sabel ha.”
Nikki’s mouth was still hanging open as Iñigo came in. Maya found it amusing and put an arm around her to get her attention. She closed her mouth.
“Good evening po, Sir, Maam, Nikki,” he began.
Richard smiled and cut him off. “Please Iñigo, just call us Tito Richard and Tita Maya. Hindi ka na naman iba sa amin”.
Maya raised an eyebrow at Richard. She still remembers how Iñigo almost put alcohol in Luke’s drink during the prom. She caught him and his friends planning it but she also heard him trying to stop his friends from doing it. She knew Richard didn’t trust Iñigo and was surprised at how welcoming he was now. She didn’t know that they talked after Luke punched him.
“Um Tito, magpapaalam po sana ako na bisitahin si Nikki, kung okay lang po sa inyo,” he began tentatively. Nikki’s eyes widened.
“Well, Iñigo, you may visit here anytime as long as Nikki’s okay with it, but if you want to ask her out, I have to know as well, okay? And, I don’t want any of this affecting Nikki’s studies.” Richard told him sternly.
“Yes po Tito. Don’t worry po.” Iñigo replied with a smile.
“Alright. Uh, Nikki, attend muna to your guest. Magpapahinga muna kami ni Maya. Iñigo, make yourself at home,” he added.
“Thank you po, Tito.”
Nikki and Iñigo sat on the sofa.
From the veranda, Nicolo saw Iñigo come in. He stood up, went near the double doors and watched. He was disheartened at what traspired… Richard smiling and patting Iñigo on the back then leaving, allowing Nikki to be alone with Iñigo.
His eyes narrowed into slits as he saw Nikki laughing at something Iñigo was telling her. They were sitting so close together. He couldn’t stand it anymore, so he went back to the veranda with a heavy heart.
Richard and Maya made their way upstairs. Upon reaching the room, Maya turned to him and asked “Anong nangyari?”
“Saan?” Richard asked back.
“Bakit biglang parang best friends na kayo ni Iñigo? Hindi naman sa ayaw ko ha, nagulat lang ako,” Maya explained.
“Remember, Luke punched him unprovoked? Iñigo could have gotten Luke expelled to get revenge. But he didn’t do it…he decided to forgive Luke just like that. I talked to him sa school afterwards, to apologize. He was very generous in his patience and forgiveness. Sya pa ang nagsabing, “ok lang po, naiindindihan ko naman po ang pinagdadaanan ni Luke kaya nya yun nagawa”. Then I learned that he’s not really close to his parents. Parang hindi man lang sila excited that he passed sa PUS. I can’t help but feel respect for him, Maya. Hindi madali ang mga pinagdaanan nung bata kaya siguro napabarkada. But I think he grew up a lot after the prom night. Iñigo’s a fine young man now, Maya.”
“Teka, si Nicolo din naman ah! He’s a fine young man too!” she countered.
“Talaga? Hmmm, that remains to be seen,” Richard replied without smiling.
Maya frowned. She knew that Nikki really likes Nicolo, and Maya was eagerly awaiting the unfolding of their love story. Suddenly, Iñigo comes into the picture, at mukhang kinakampihan pa nitong si Daddy singkit.
Hmmm, kelangan manalo ang manok ko! Maya thought to herself.
Richard could almost read what’s on her mind so he gave her a smile that had a hint of dare in it. Hindi ako magpapatalo this time, Attorney!
To be continued…
A/N: Thanks for reading!Sana napasaya ko kayo today 🙂