Hi guys, sorry for the suuuuuper late post… But this one has got to be the most difficult piece for me to write. I hope you’ll appreciate the story and pick up some bits from it too… So here it is…
For part one, click here
Looking back – Two
Amiel believed he could not be any happier than this. After Nikki’s bold declaration, he was now determined to make his courtship formal. It was high time he should ask tito Richard’s permission to court his daughter.
When Nikki’s dad had texted her that he was on his way, Amiel held her by the shoulders and spoke with the gentlest tone Nikki had ever heard him use.
“I’d like to see you tomorrow. Can I come over your place?”
“I’ll ask dad first. But I think pwede naman since he knows you na.”
“Your dad has no plans for tomorrow?” He asked discreetly while letting his arms fall slowly to his side.
“Usually pag weekends, wala naman.” He smiled. While waiting for Nikki’s dad to arrive, they both stood at the front steps. At the corner of his eye, he noticed the wind had picked up and that Nikki’s bare arms had slightly shook in a shiver. Immediately, he removed his tuxedo jacket and laid it on her shoulders. Glancing towards her face, he noticed her cheeks turn pink. That warmed his heart. In a short while later, Nikki’s dad arrived. She handed him his jacket and thanked him for the night.
“Wait.” He held her forearm as she turned away from him.
“Let me know what he says, alright?”
“I will.” She then smiled brightly at him which made his heart flutter.
When Amiel got home, he was greeted by his father carrying a stack of papers.
“Anak, I have good news.” His smile threw Amiel back. He has never seen him smile this much. “Come sit with me.” he led his son to the living room.
“What’s this about pa?”
“Well, as you know, I’ve been very busy recently and now I can share with you the reaps of my labor.” He then showed Amiel a piece of paper.
“What’s this pa?” he stared at the paper in clueless inquisition.
“That, my son, is a paper that formally hands over the family business to you.” Amiel then looked straight at his father and his jaw literally dropped.
“Are you serious?”
“I don’t see any reason to be joking about this.” His dad shrugged and settled a hand at Amiel’s shoulder. “I believe you deserve this. You are merely a year and a semester away from graduation. This will be a good way to ease you into adulthood.”
“Pa, this is an immensely huge responsibility.” He said in disbelief.
“I know son. Me and your ma trust you. Besides, I’ll still be there to overlook and guide you into how things work.”
“Wow pa, I am… honoured.” He finally released a breath he didn’t know he was holding in. “I promise you I’ll do my best. I won’t let you down.”
The next day, he was on his way to the office when he got a text from Nikki.
“Good morning Amiel! I just talked 2 dad & he says u can come over! 🙂 “
Sh*t! I forgot about my plans with Nikki! He silently cursed himself before typing back a response.
“Hi Nikki! I just have to do something this morning. Later in the afternoon fine with u?”
“Np 🙂 “
The morning sped by yet Amiel was still at the office by three in the afternoon. Who knew legalities could take so much time. He sneaked a text while everyone was at a break.
“Princess, I’m sorry some things came up & I cant escape.”
“No its ok Amiel..ill just explain to dad. No need to rush.”
“thanks princess, ill tell u the good news later 🙂 “
“Wow! Ok sure! 😀 “
Though he had intended it to be so, things didn’t go as planned as Amiel arrived home late at night, exhausted, and had forgotten to call Nikki. The next few days seemed routine. The minute he got to tell Nikki about his news, she had exploded in happiness for him, whenever he couldn’t come to meet up with her, he would give his work-related excuse and she would wholeheartedly support him and prod him to do what is important because she could always wait.
“I’m so glad I have you, princess.” He said while they were on the phone one night.
“Oh come on. I know how important this is for you.” He smiled at her concern.
“Well, you’re important too you know.”
————————–end of flashback——————————-
“I was willing to support you, even wait for you…” he then cut her off.
“But you see, that’s where the problem lies. I misread you, Nikki.” He took a deep breath.
“What do you mean?”
“Remember when I took you out for dinner and we had that really long conversation?” How could she forget? It was the night she knew he was giving up.
———————flashback to thirteen years ago—————-
“Are you alright?” He had notice Nikki fiddle with her food for the past few minutes.
“Hmm-mm…” she mumbled.
“Princess?” He asked, unease spreading all over his systems. “What’s the matter?”
“Amiel, what are we doing?”
“What do you mean? We’re having dinner of course.” He said with a touch of humor.
“I know that.” She half-snapped, then tried to calm down again. “What I mean is…” she took a deep breath “…are we on a date?”
Amiel wasn’t sure what to answer to that. He wasn’t sure if it was a test, or if it was an honest-to-God question. He chose his words carefully.
“It’s just the two of us, so I guess it is.” She didn’t look happy with his answer.
“So does this mean we’re out as a couple?” She didn’t seem happy about it either.
“No, not really, princess. A lot of people can go on dates. This is a friendly date.”
After some time, Amiel tried to fill in the gap with random topics. By the time dessert was served, Nikki couldn’t stop her emotions from going haywire.
“Amiel, I have to ask you something?”
“What is it princess?”
“I’m not sure how to say this, but I have to know.” Her wary eyes looked up at him, trying to read his expression. “Where are we going with this? Whatever this is? I mean, we seem to be going out, acting like a couple sometimes, but we’re obviously not. I want to know where I stand in your life?”
“My princess, you know you are the only girl in my life.”
“But where am I in your plans?”
“You are always part of my plans.”
“Look Amiel…” she took his hands “…I know you have school, your family business, and everything else. I was thinking maybe… Maybe I should back out a bit.”
“What?” He half cried. “Nikki, I don’t understand, aren’t you happy?”
“Oh Amiel, I am happiest when with you. But recently, I don’t know… I just feel… left out.” Amiel now held both hands with a fear that if he’d let go, he’d lose her forever.
“Princess, what do you want me to do for you? Say anything, I’ll do it. Just don’t give us up.”
“I’m not, Amiel. I’m just giving you time. I think that’s what you need right now. Not me. Maybe to sort things out, maybe to look for whatever it is you’re missing in your life… All I’m sure is, that gap, that gap that distracts you from spending any time with me, I’m not the one filling it out.”
“Where did this come from?”
“Whenever we hang out, when we talk or text, it’s all about your business, or school, never about anything else. Somehow, I think I lost you in all of your endeavours.” Slowly, a tear trickled in her cheek, Amiel felt devastated, he knew just what was happening.
“Let me take you home.” He then asked the waiter for the bill.
They simply sat across each other not saying anything. When Amiel drove Nikki home, she was quiet, he was ambivalent. When they arrived at her gate, he finally spoke.
“I love you, Nikki.”
“I love you too, Amiel, but right now, I’m not what you need.”
“Nikki, I’m sorry I couldn’t make you happy.”
“But you-“ He cut her off
“No, Nikki, if I did make you happy, we wouldn’t be like this right now.” He gripped the steering wheel so hard, his knuckles went white from the tension. “I don’t even know why this is happening.”
“Amiel, right now isn’t our time. I think you just have to do what you must do, accomplish all you have to get and when you’re ready, count on it that I’ll be there.” She leaned forward and circled her arms around his neck. He could swear he felt her heartbeat hammer through her chest to meet his own. He then felt something cold at the side of his neck. She was crying.
“Thank you for dinner, and for everything else.” She then hurriedly got out of his car. After a blink or two, he gathered his senses and went after her.
“Nikki!” she slowly turned to meet his gaze. “I will always love you.”
“And I, you.” She said with a painful smile before going inside.
————————–end of flashback——————————-
“I thought you were getting rid of me.” he said with a little laugh to lighten up the mood.
“If I wanted that to happen, then it sure worked, diba?” She forced herself a small smile.
“I’m sorry I put you through all that pain, Nikki. It was never my intention. When you said you’d back out, I thought you were moving on.” Nikki was quiet. He wasn’t sure how to go on. “The girl you saw, Mindy, she was the only one who knew how to take me away from that dark place since… you know… that night.”
———————flashback to thirteen years ago—————-
“Since when did you learn how to drink this much?” Mindy grabbed a stool and sat beside the already drunk Amiel.
“Wag kang mangialam.”
“Woah! Defensive much?” She raised both hands “Ano, gusto mo bang pag-usapan?”
“Akala ko wala to. I felt so numb. But right now, ang sakit sakit talaga!” He then took another gulp of alcohol. “How do you forget years and years of wonderful memories?”
“You don’t.” Mindy adopted a serious tone and cupped his shoulder. “You hold on to those memories, if only to get through all of this drama.” Then she pushed his shoulder so he faced her. “Now, I want you to get home, rest, and you’re going to be fresh tomorrow because you’ll be helping me with the bakeshow.”
“I don’t want to!” He whined when she was pushing him off his chair.
“You have to. It will take your mind off things. You’ve had your time to pity yourself. Now it’s time to pick up the pieces.”
————————–end of flashback——————————-
“I never did love her as much as I was supposed to.” He shrugged. “It was as if I was filling in the space that was yours. And you know the sad part? She knew that too. Maybe it was my pathetic way of trying not to be lonely, whatever, but I did try to move one. Crappy way of doing it, sure, but it did help.” He checked her face before he decided to continue. She was intently listening to him. Good. She had to hear what he had to say next.
“After you found out about us, the process repeated itself. We then knew I wasn’t ready to give you up just yet.” He reached out and slowly touched her wrist. “I never was ready to give you up, Nikki.” Her eyes shot up at his, she was suddenly tense.
“You think you could just say these things and everything would be okay? You can’t do this, Amiel. I’ve moved on.”
“Of course you have, Nikki…”
“No you don’t! I’ve made that decision a long time ago, Amiel. I gave you the chance to build yourself up, and I see that you did. But after everything else, how can you truly believe that we can just go back to being a thing? It’s not that I haven’t forgiven you, I have. But I don’t want to risk anything else anymore.”
“I didn’t get the chance to prove myself better, Nikki. I robbed myself of that chance. Seeing you today, made me come up with this crazy fairytale ending where I tell you I love you and you fling yourself to me.”
Nikki stared up at him. He still loves her. Did she believe him? She wasn’t sure. Why was the possibility of being with him suddenly feel so real all of a sudden? Why did it fill her with so much want that she had completely forgotten what led her to say ‘yes’ to his invitation for coffee? And the worst part?
Why did her heart feel like it was melting?
“I don’t know if I could ever forgive myself for what I did to you, I’d understand if you didn’t. But I love you, Nikki Grace. And I will do anything to prove myself to you and make up for the past.”
“Look, Amiel, I don’t blame you anymore. Let bygones be bygones. But you have to understand, we can’t be together.” She shook herself as if trying to get rid of all the nervous energy pent up inside of her. “Hell, I might actually still be in love with you. I might have never really hated you.” That brightened his resolve.
“And yet what?” He prodded.
“Yet when I think about how things have turned out for us, I can’t help myself from believing that maybe, we just aren’t meant to be together.” She heaved a heavy sigh. “I have a boyfriend.” She couldn’t look at him. After his declaration, she felt that this time, it was her who had abandoned him. She then heard him chuckle.
“What are you laughing at?”
“The two of us. What an impossible pair we are.” He then leaned forward on his elbows as if sharing a secret. “I have a girlfriend. So I guess, we’re even.”
“So why are we even discussing this?” Nikki scrunched up her nose in obvious confusion.
“I don’t know. Maybe I was hoping that you’d be single. Besides, it’s a Mindy scenario all over again.” He shrugged. “So, what do you say, friends?” He extended a hand which she shook. But he didn’t let go just yet. Instead, he brought it to his lips and placed a soft kiss on the back of her hand.
“Maybe one day, fate will be kinder to us. Maybe we would meet again. And maybe we could both be single. When that time comes, no force will ever stop me from pursuing you. You will be my princess once again.” Nikki smiled back at him. He felt all worries disappear. It was a clean slate once more.
“I’m glad we did this.” Nikki started to gather her things. “It was great to see you, Amiel.” She leaned across and gave him a hug. It wasn’t “goodbye”. It was “see you next time.”
“Dream of me, princess, as I have dreamed of you.” Then before letting her go, he whispered to her ear. “I love you. Never forget that.” He felt Nikki’s smile at his cheek.
“And I, you.” Abruptly, he let her go and she waved off a goodbye.
Amiel watched her approach the door of the coffee shop and called out to her, suddenly remembering something.
“Nikki, wait!” He then took something from his bag. “I want you to have this.”
It was a small leather-bound notebook.
“My companion since the day I met you.” He smiled. “Maybe a reminder that I’ll always be here waiting for you.” She smiled.
“Thank you, Amiel. Now I really must go. The van’s waiting.”
“Sure. Bye Nikki Grace.”
“See you soon, Amiel.”
Nikki tried to put off opening that small notebook. Interviews were done, photo shoots and meetings finished. At the end of the day, she couldn’t ignore it any moment longer. She got her bag and opened to the first page. It was a bit tattered and yellow. But the ink was clear. Her heart soared.
Today is the start of a new day. From the moment I saw her, I knew that it was a bright future ahead.
“Indeed it is.” She read on…
A/N: This is to allow the Nic-Nik followers to still enjoy the ending, and for Nik-Miel lovers to bask in the hope of a “bright future ahead”. I hope you enjoyed this story and got some points from it. It’s very difficult to forgive isn’t it? But as long as there’s love and understanding, there’s always hope.
Inspired by: The One That Got Away by Katy Perry