VOLUME V of LOVE CONNECTION

Step by step we grow and step by step we realize our true feelings.

Arianne is starting to gain confidence, Aldred is introduced to his future, and Natalie is given a choice that will define her name. 

Pagkatapos malaman ni Aldred ang tunay na saloobin ni Natalie ay naramdaman niya kung paano ang ma-threaten sa tanang buhay niya. Beautiful, intelligent and talented, Aldred does not care about Natalie's gender and sees her as a rival. 10 dates no more with Arianne dahil desidido na siyang maging girlfriend ito ngunit habang mas nagiging malapit sila sa isa't-isa ay na-realized niya ang epekto nito sa karibal niya.

Natalie and Aldred: from colleagues, from Natalie liking Aldred, Aldred rejecting Natalie, Aldred and Natalie liking the same person, from rivals to best friends. The two thought that they only battling each other until they saw their beloved Arianne kissing someone in front of their eyes.

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PROLOGUE

Afternoon before Pristine's debut party

Ayaw ni Arianne na isipin kung ano ang nangyayari at ayaw niya ring intindihin kung bakit siya kasalukuyang nakaupo sa loob ng VIP room ng isang mamahaling restaurant. Merong konteksto sa kanyang isipan na nagiindika sa dahilan ng kanyang sitwasyon ngunit ayaw niyang paniwalain ang sarili na maaaring iyon ang dahilan.

"I'm Arthur Yaptengco, Amanda's dad. Nice to meet you, Arianne," pagbati na natanggap ni Arianne pagkapasok niya sa VIP room ng restaurant.

Sa tabi ni Arianne ay si Amanda, masama ang tingin sa taong nasa harapan nila. Sa pagitan ng mesang napupuno ng mga pagkain ay ang ama nito na nakatuon ang mata kay Arianne. Magiliw ang ngiti at mayroong gentleness sa mukha ni Arthur ngunit kahit ganoon ay di pa rin maiwasan ni Arianne na mailang.

"So, there's really a reason why my daughter run away," saad ng ama ni Amanda kasabay ang paglapag sa mesa ng kanyang dalawang kamay na tinutung-tungan ng kanyang baba. Nakangiti niyang pinagmasdan ng maigi si Arianne bago muli siyang magsalita. 

"There are only few months left before you both graduate, after that of course, you are both planning to enter college, right?"

Tumango si Arianne habang si Amanda ay walang reaksyon.

"Philippines is a small country but a bit populated. I thought I will have a hard time looking for Amanda but it looks like she didn't intend to hide in the first place. My genius daughter left traces that she can easily avoid if she wanted to. I'm curious as to why then I was notified by my men about you."

Nagtatakang napakurap ang mga mata ni Arianne.

"Dad—" Amanda's sharp voice muttered.

"You are beautiful, intelligent, talented, and from an affluent family. She knows my standards after all that's why she's not afraid to hide you,"

Agresibong napatayo si Amanda sa kanyang kinauupuan pagkatapos ng narinig, "Dad, you! Did you investigate her?" galit na tanong ni Amanda.

"Of course, honey," mahinahong tugon ni Arthur, nananatiling nakangiti habang nakikipagtitigan sa kanyang anak na ubod sama kung makatingin at nagngingitngit ang mga ngipin sa galit.

"Amanda, you are my only daughter and you know how much I love you. As your father, I must protect you. I won't let any weed touch you again."

Bigla ay kumalabog ang parte ng mesa sa tabi ni Arianne. Tumalbog ang mga kubyertos, platito at lahat ng nakalagay sa mesa, "How dare you say that when you're the one who turned them into what you called weeds."

Nawala ang ngiti sa labi ni Arthur. Pumagitna ang katahimikan sa loob ng silid. Simula ng umupo sila sa harap ng hapag ay wala pang gumagalaw sa mga pagkaing nakalatag. Pastries, sweets, kape at tsaa. Puno ng aroma ng mga pagkain ang silid ngunit walang panahon ang mga nasa loob para i-appreciate ito. Saglit ay kinuha ni Arthur ang tasa ng tsaa sa kanyang tabi. Inamoy ito bago tahimik na humigop.  Pagkatapos uminom at pagkalapag ng kanyang inumin ay kay Arianne na nakatuon ang kanyang atensyon.

"My daughter is really mad at me. I'm sorry Arianne if she's acting like that. She has the right to and I won't deny what she's saying. I'm just a father who wants the best for her daughter. I hope you understand me."

Nilingon ni Arianne si Amanda bago siya tumingin muli sa kanyang harapan at tumango.

"Ye-Yes sir,"

"I'm glad because you are the fruit of my effort. If I let her with those weeds, then you will not meet each other, right?"

"Huh?"

Napakurap ang mga mata hindi lang ni Arianne kundi maging si Amanda. Amanda cleared her throat before she returned to her sit. Napakagat naman sa kanyang pang-ibabang labi si Arianne. Nagi-guilty dahil sa pagsisinungaling nila ukol sa kanilang relasyon.

"Arianne, as Amanda's girlfriend, I'm sure that she already told you how I'm against homosexuality and the kind of relationship she wants. I will not elaborate on the details, I still don't accept that way of life but I understand that my daughter has a mind of her own. I will not force her anymore to marry a man."

Nagulat si Amanda sa narinig. Napatitig siya sa kanyang ama. Hindi siya makapagsalita ngunit halata sa pamimilog ng mga mata niya ang biglaang paggaan ng kalooban at saya. Hindi niya nga napansin na hinagilap ng kamay niya ang kamay ni Arianne at mariin itong pinisil. Natuwa naman si Arianne para sa kanya.

"Sir Arthur than--"

Pinigil ni Arthur ang sasabihin ni Arianne.

"Don't call me "Sir". You can call me "Tito" or much better if "Dad,"

Nagtaka si Arianne at Amanda, "Dad?" sabay nilang reaksyon.

"Yes," nakangiti na tugon ni Arthur, "I will not force Amanda to marry a man but I will force her to marry after she graduated. It is the family's tradition, did Amanda not mention it? Anyway, man or woman, the important is that her partner is not a weed. Arianne, I would like to meet your parents so that we can talk about the wedding,"

Biglang nagkandabuhol-buhol ang utak ni Arianne sa narinig. Napabitaw ang kamay niya kay Amanda at may pagkalakas na naipatong ito sa mesa, "We-Wedding?" Bakas sa mukha niya ang hindi pagkapaniwala.

"Dad, what the hell are you talking about?" napatayo muli si Amanda.

"Oh, so you did not tell her about that? Hmm, I see..." saad ni Arthur bago siya muling humigop sa kanyang tasa ng tsaa. Sunod ay nilipat ni Arthur kay Arianne ang kanyang atensyon at inilabas galing sa bulsa ng kanyang coat ang isang maliit na jewelry box.

"Arianne, do your parents know about your sexual identity and your relationship with my daughter?"

Hindi nakasagot si Arianne. Tumango naman muli si Arthur.

"I see..." sambit ni Arthur bago nag-iba ang timpla ng kanyang aura, "Arianne, our family is conservative. When I first learned about Amanda's sexuality I'm furious to the point that I want to lock her up inside our house. Beat her until she learns that what she's doing is not right. I said many degrading remarks to her, hoping that my anger would reach her thick head... I do not approve of what she's doing, however, I love my daughter. I will do everything for her own sake."

Gulat na napalingon si Arianne sa kanyang tabi ng marinig ang pagkalabog ng mesa.

"No, you're not doing this for me, you're doing this for your own good. Ever since from the start, what you want is only honor. When you learned that I'm a lesbian, I know that the first thing that came to your mind is that I will taint your family's most kept honor. I'm an embarrassment for you and Mom."

Napatitig lang si Arthur sa kanyang anak. Nang mapagtantong tapos na ito sa sasabihin ay muli niyang ibinalik kay Arianne ang kanyang atensyon.

"Arianne... do you love my daughter?" tanong na nakapagpatanga kay Arianne. Hindi na nga hinintay pa ni Arthur ang magiging sagot niya at nagtanong muli, "Or are you just pretending for my daughter's sake?"

Kinabahan si Amanda sa biglaang paglamig ng tono ng ama. Nilingon niya si Arianne. Nagulat siya ng makitang nakikipagtitigan ito kay Arthur. Arianne intensely stared at Arthur's eyes. She is trying because she knows that avoiding his gaze will only mean that he is right.

" As Amanda said earlier, I already investigated you, Arianne. There are some things about you that made me curious, but do not worry it's not my issue. You are from a prominent and conservative family but is living like a commoner. No boyfriend since birth. I also learned that a certain lesbian tried to woo you however you declined her a lot of times. Actually, that made me wonder, what's the sudden change of pace? Why did you let my Amanda enter your world?"

Kinuha ni Arianne ang kanyang tasa ng tsaa. Dinama ang amoy nito at humigop ng marahan bago tumugon kay Arthur.

"Is it not clear Dad?" Arianne smiled, "I love her that's why I chose her. Indeed, I'm not, that I don't consider myself as a member of third sex before, but what can I do, it's my heart who choose who to love. Our way of love is not the norm but does it really matter? Is it that easy for someone to condemn this way of love even though we are not hurting anybody? Or as Amanda said, selfishness is the reason why you are against her?"

Nagulat si Amanda sa naging reaksyon ni Arianne. Napatingin siya sa kanyang Ama at nakita niya ang pagbabago sa kaninang malamig na aura nito. Kita sa mata ni Arthur ang pagkagulat. Saglit ay nangisi siya. Namamangha at the same time natatawa sa kanyang narinig.

"So that means the wedding pushes through," malaki ang ngiti na sabi ni Arthur. Kay Amanda bago kay Arianne ang kanyang tingin.

"Ye-Yes," tugon ni Arianne na ikinagulat ni Amanda.

Binuksan ni Arthur ang jewelry box na kanyang hawak. Kasabay ng pag-pak ng takip nito ay ang pagkagulat ni Amanda. Kilalang-kilala niya kasi ang laman ng kahon.

"This ring is our family heirloom. A fragment of our family and one of the most important thing we have. I am giving this to you Arianne as a symbol that I accept you as Amanda's future partner and of course, a new member of our family."

Erururu Creator

PROLOGUE OF LOVE CONNECTION VOLUME 5