Aye~ read carefully.
Ivy scanned herself for the last time in front of the mirror. She’s wearing a white halter top dress which was cut above her knees. She matched it with high heels and it really accentuated her long legs, her second best asset according to everyone. It only came second to her eyes which now appear more dramatic than usual after putting some evening makeup.
She faced the direction of the door when it opened and then the one who entered, her ‘fiancé ‘stood there frozen after seeing her.
Jeff was dumbfounded when he saw how Ivy look like tonight. He felt his chest being kicked up by something after giving her a good look.
From her big beautiful dark eyes to the soft curls of her hair, the graceful curve of her neck to her shoulders, the endless pair of long sexy legs that were exposed to him for the first time, the dress that she was wearing emphasized how beautiful she really was.
Ivy was dressed to kill. And if he still would not breathe, probably he would be her first victim.
“Are you ready?” he asked.
“Please, a little more,” she unenthusiastically replied.
Suddenly he remembered what he came here for. “Ivy, I’m sorry.”
“For what happened earlier.”
She only nodded as her answer.
“Will you please wear this?” He handed her the box he brought with him.
“Something that my grandmother owned.”
She accepted the box and peered on what’s being contained inside. She was amazed when a jewelry came into view. It was a pair of diamond earrings shaped into raindrops, etched into the antique gold.
He noticed her hesitation before she spoke. “I can’t wear these, it’s too precious. Also, I’m the type who always had her jewelries lost.”
“I’ll guard you.” He said in a gentle and low voice.
He was stared at by Ivy and for several moments in his life, he can only see her enchanting eyes. She slowly grinned and then he felt some disappointment because he doesn’t know what her smile means.
Suddenly, the maiden faced the mirror to wear the earrings.
She loved them.
When she put it on, she felt like these were made for her. A pity that the earrings were only lent to her.
I’ll guard you.
She smiles to herself because Jeff’s choice of words. He said, he will guard her, not the earrings.
She turned her back around after ensuring that the pair of diamonds had been worn properly. “I’m ready.”
He wordlessly offered his one hand to hold her which she silently accepted. Both of them were smiling when they exited the room.
They successfully made it through the night. Jeff’s relatives were convinced of their relationship, fully believing that they love each other. And also, there had been a ghost watching as everything unfolded.
“You will find happiness with him, Ivy,” said by Luis while she was watching her ‘fiance’ danced with Grandma Agustinia, an old lady introduced to her a Jeff’s grandfather’s sister.
She refrained looking at him so that she won’t be mistaken as a psychopath talking to the air. “I doubt it. We’re different with each other. I believe in romance – in true love. However, he’s too cynical.”
“It’s only because of his painful past,” he reasoned out. “You, Ivy, can change his belief towards love.”
She smiles to herself. “You have too many expectations for me, Luis.”
“Because I can see from your eyes what you can pull off as reality.”
Suddenly Jeff turned to her direction and gave her a smile which made her heart somersault.
“When your eyes were shining like that, you resemble Cecilia.”
This time, she could no longer stop herself from staring at Luis. He was looking at her thoughtfully. And it made her afraid of the possibility that he’s already mistaking her with his ex-lover.
It seems her thought had been read by him. “You’re not Cecilia. I know what makes you different from her. Her weakness was brought to her by our era. Your strength was not in her.”
“I don’t understand.”
“You, Ivy, will always say what is on your mind. You fight for your ideals and you don’t give up on your love,” he declared.
The spirit nodded towards Jeff’s direction. Since she followed Luis’ gaze, she saw that the dance ended and that Noelle is walking towards him.
“I’m just hoping that you won’t be scared to hold onto your happiness.”
She thinks that she slightly get what he wanted to imply. This gave her the strength to walk the distance between him and her and to cling on him as if she’s been doing that gesture every day of her life.
She expected the piercing stares from Noelle. The woman then turned to another direction and refrained from approaching Jeff. However, Ivy can still feel Noelle’s eyes locked unto her.
“The two of you really look perfect together,” commented by the old lady, the one whom Jeff danced with a while ago. “You really suit each other and because of that, I suddenly remember my younger years together with your Grandpa Matias, Jeff. We were so in love like the two of you.”
“Is that so?” Ivy asked. In actuality, she wants to laugh because the young man’s discomfort is very obvious to her. However, he knows it’s not his turn to say anything. He lets the older woman expressed herself.
“Yes. And by the way, do you know the story behind the earrings you’re wearing right now, hija?”
Unconsciously, she touched the diamond earrings on her ears before replying in a courteous manner. “I don’t know, madam.”
“Are you familiar with the dreamcatcher?”
“Yes, a little bit.” She knows that the dreamcatcher is round, with a spider web design in the middle part. It also has a feather hanging from it. The native Indian tribesmen believe that it was a powerful talisman against bad dreams. The web catches the bad dreams and allows only the good ones to pass through.
Grandma Agustinina continued. “As far as I know, the dreamcatcher monitors the dreams of a person and only lets the good dreams to be dreamed.”
“That’s also what I know,” she nodded.
“The diamonds used for the earring you have now with you was sewn over the web of a dreamcatcher that was brought by our ancestors while travelling the world. Because of the passage of time, the dreamcatcher was tear into pieces and only those diamonds were left. My great grandpa was the one who made it into a pair of earrings to hand as a gift to his betroth. He said it’s purpose is to guard her dreams. It was a really romantic gesture so since then, it become a tradition to pass the earrings to the woman who will bear the name of Domingo.”
I suddenly looked at Jeff because of what I’ve just learned but because he’s averting his gaze from her, she couldn’t read what he’s thinking.
“So I think I should give the two of you your time for the night. I also feel thirsty after dancing so I will now get some drinks for myself.”
When the old woman left, she faced the person to clear something. “Have you known that story?”
“Don’t read too much into that tale, Ivy. I only lent those to you to make it believable, your facade as my fiancée. It worked, right?”
Her smile slowly vanished. Because of what she heard, she feels like she would go insane if she would insist of interpreting every signals she got from him.
“Of course,” with a slightly hoarse voice, she replied.
It’s past midnight when the party ended and they were among the last group of retiree for that eve. After reaching the room, she immediately wears off the earrings and put them in the box. The antique box was then motioned over to Jeff.
“Here it goes. Thanks,” said by her.
“Keep it for the meantime.”
“I told you, I’m the type who always had her jewelries lost. Moreover, I don’t think you will guard me day-in and day-out just to ensure these won’t be lost.”
The man glanced at what she’s holding for a second. His big hand covered the box, thus, his fingers were lightly touching her hands. Then he raised his face to her.
“You confuse me, Ivy.”
Her temper finally flared up. “What? Are you a drug-addict? At this rate, I was actually the one confusing you huh?”
He shook his head. “No. I mean, you confuse me. Not through your words or action. I’m confuse of what I feel for you.”
What did he say? She couldn’t find the tongue to speak.
“I don’t like getting confused,” he suddenly added.
He removed his hands from the box and said, “Just keep the earrings, please.” Then he started walking off.
“Where are you going?”
He halted for a moment and gave her a fleeting look. “I’ll just breathe some air outside.”
She watched him left the place before falling into the bed. She opened the box on her hands and watched the glistening diamonds within.
She was suffocating in the inky darkness. Hands which appeared from nowhere were pinning her down. She couldn’t move. And she also couldn’t shout. And right now, the air she can breathe keep on lessening.
She began praying the Lord’s Prayer…
Ivy woke up with a gasp. The place she saw is so dark and gloomy and she also can’t see anything. Pulling herself together, she leaned on the headboard. While clutching the chest part of her upper garment, she tried to fight back the panic in her heart..
“Jeff,” she called out the name of the only person she knew will help her.
But only silence replied to her and it made her more scared. She can no longer tell by herself is she’s awake or still trapped in her nightmares.
Her voice rose in half-hysterics. “Jeffrey!”
The door to the room opened and then the person she called for entered while a candle was lit up on his hands.
“Ivy, are you alright?”
He walked towards her. He gently placed the candle holder on top of the bedside table and then after that, her frightened face became visible through the scarce light that falls upon her.
“Hey, Baby, it’s all right.” The man held her shoulders.
She embraced him very tight as if assuring to herself that the bad dreams had ended. “It was so dark. And I was afraid.”
He tenderly tended her back. “Shh… it’s all right. There’s a power outage. The generator didn’t work. Then I went out for a candle since I know that you need some light.”
She raised her face and after that, she saw how he cupped her face and wiped the tears that streamed down.
“Don’t you know you have such beautiful eyes?” he whispered.
Jeff leaned over between her neck and shoulder. She felt the warmth of his lips on his shoulder. She tentatively touched his hair. The man lifted up his face to gaze at her. And the reflection of the candlelight flickered in his dark eyes.
For the very first time, she can see nakedly the feelings he held for her. She can read it. And that was the last thing she saw before she closed her eyes when her lips was caught by his mouth. They then shared a very passionate kiss.
She had only imagined making love before. But she never thought that it could be this beautiful. When she fell asleep lying on his chests, while he was gently touching her hair, her dreams was also as beautiful as that.
The sun is already hanged up on the sky when she woke up. She’s alone in the room. She hugged the pillow beside her and inhaled his scent and smiled as she remembered the beautiful moment they shared last night.
She can still remember what he told her before sleeping. “You can sleep now, Ivy. I’m just here.”
She left the bed. This day is the day when everyone will be taking their leave. She took a quick shower and get to her wardrobe. When she walked outside, there’s almost no one present. She only saw the dishes and plates left on the table and the people who are in charge of clearing up the mess. Ivy guessed, some of them left early, probably for the airport.
Ivy decided to look for Jeff. She went pass the staircase to peek on the windows and see if he’s at the garden, but she was startled by the voices she heard up there.
She carefully took her steps on the stairs. There’s a tall railing hiding the people to her sight. However, she heard the voices correctly after getting into the last step.
“Don’t you love me anymore, Jeff?” It’s Noelle’s voice.
One of her hand suddenly found its way to her chest. She couldn’t move at where she’s standing.
“Why the hell should that even matter? You’re married to my cousin.”
“I just want to know. Because I still love you.”
Ivy couldn’t breathe while waiting for Jeff’s answer. She feels as if her life depends on his reply.
However, Noelle continued speaking. “I am sorry. I made a terrible mistake. But we can still change everything.”
“God, Noelle! I can’t even believe that you can say that to me. Jerome is my cousin,” reminded by the young man.
“And you told me before that I am your one true love.”
“And what did you do with that information? I gave you everything, Noelle, and you went off and got pregnant with my cousin.”
“Not everything, Jeff.” The voice of the woman cracked when she said, “Not all. You told me you loved me. You gave me diamonds and precious gifts. But you didn’t have time for me. That’s what I looked for before that was given to me by Jerome. And I thought it’s enough. I got tempted to Jerome. But I actually couldn’t stand for it because after all, I realized you’re the one I love. I missed you so much,” she emotionally declared.
“Really?” the young man asked sarcastically. “Is that why I was told that the two of you were trying hard to make a baby?”
“It’s not true. That was only what we wanted to tell everyone because we didn’t like to admit that our marriage was a failure. We flew back to Philippines to finalize our annulment.”
“Noelle…” Jeff muttered her name.
“Ate Ivy!” Someone spoke behind her.
The maiden spins back and then looked up because Joan is at the next floor. She has no choice and it seems that Jeff and Noelle were already aware that she’s there. And right now, her instincts told her that Joan should not know that they were having their heart to heart talk near her.
“Hi, Joan! I was just looking for people. I thought everyone left already.”
“Nah. We will be here for thirty minutes more. Kuya Jerome had only sent off Aunt Maira and the others to the airport.”
“Have you eaten breakfast?”
“Not yet. I don’t feel like eating. I only have a slight craving for chocolate ice cream,” she said.
“Oh, my God! What if you’re craving for something because you’re pregnant?”
“I doubt it!” She replied, conscious of the two eavesdroppers near them.
“Just kidding. Come! I’ll accompany you to your ice cream binge.”
She smiled. “Okay.”
When she parted ways with Joan, that was when she returned to the room. She’s on the edge of sugar crash after the energy rush she got from the ice cream was spent on laughing with the teenager. She spent more energy than expected because she faked laughing even though that’s not what she truly felt.
Jeff was inside the room.
He stood up when he saw her. “Ivy – “
She cut him off. She smiled at him and said, “Aren’t you glad it’s over, Jeff? We can now go back to our real lives.”
“I don’t know which part of my conversation with Noelle you have overheard that’s why I can’t say what’s running on your mind,” he said, clearly disregarding what she wanted to imply.
“It doesn’t matter, Jeff. The truth is, you made love with me but it was her you are with as soon as you wake up. The symbolism is clear, right? And then, she told you she will soon be free – your one true love. The true love of the person who said that he doesn’t believe in romance. What has to be thought of other than that?”
He can’t find any words to reply. They only stood face to face, on the opposite sides of the room, staring at each other.
Then someone knocked on the door. Since she was neared to it, she took the initiative to open it. The pretty face of Noelle appeared.
“Jeff, we are leaving,” the woman informed in a tender tone, the eyes went pass Ivy as if she’s not existing there.
“I will see you off,” the young man replied.
He left the room and when the door closed, it was as if Ivy was deafened by the sound it produced. Half-blinded with tears, she started packing up her belongings. She won’t wait for Jeff to come back anymore. She came out of the room when she confirmed that Jerome and the rest had left.
“Are you leaving too?” asked by Luis while walking towards her. She halted her steps and waited for him. “Jeff is behind. He’s almost making his way towards you when someone called and talked to him. Aren’t you going to say goodbye?”
“I’ll just text him,” she said and then continued marching down.
The ghost didn’t ask what she meant by that. She always took it for granted that Luis is familiar with the modern technology and with some foreign terminologies because she knew that he observed several kinds of people who entered the old mansion.
“And that’s it?”
“I told you before, right? You’re probably wrong about your expectations to me. I am not who Jeff needed. Maybe I am also not the person you need.”
“So, what I did last night failed its purpose.”
“What?” She couldn’t help but stop on her tracks. “What was with last night?”
The ghost smiled. “Did you think… the power outage that occurred at the same time when the generator was also not working as coincidence?”
She blinked. Her mind couldn’t immediately process what she heard. Stupid, stupid, matchmaking ghost! She ranted inside when she understood it all.
“Luis, there are things which are really not fated to happen. You said it yourself, sometimes, fate decides for everything.”
His face became serious. “Wrong, Ivy. It’s only fate’s job to set up our encounters at the right place and right time. We are the one to decide whether we want to be with each other or not. We are the one to make the moves to lengthen the time we have together. Can’t you deduce that base on my experiences?”
“What if I’m not yet ready to make the decisions? Or make the necessary movements?”
“Our time on Earth is so short to spend mostly on worrying,” he reminded.
“Forgive me, Luis. I’m not as brave as you thought. It’s actually different when the heart is at stake.”
“Will you return here?” he asked.
She smiled then answered. “Yeah. No matter what I feel right now, I’ll go back here to start once again.”