The Runaway Wife-17

“Hindi ko lugar ang sumabay sa ‘yo sa pagkain, Senyorito.”

“Ako ang nakakaalam sa tamang lugar mo, Rana,” pakli ng baritonong tinig. Masuyo at mainit ang mga titig nito.

Her heart stopped beating for a long second before it resumed in a rapid and frenzied rate.

Hindi mapigil ni Rana ang pagkabog ng dibdib. At hindi rin niya maintindihan ang pag-iinit ng pakiramdam.

‘Could it be lust?’ tanong niya sa sarili.

Tumutugon na rin kaya ang katawan niya sa pagnanasa ng lalaking ito para sa kanya?

After all, she had been infatuated with this man for a long time now.

“At iyon ay sa kama mo. Hindi ko kakalimutan ‘yan,” pahayag niya.

Tumawa lang ang lalaki. His gentle laughter was as smooth and velvety as seduction.

“Hindi muna kita seseryosohin, Rana. Hindi pa panahon,” salo ni Andrei.

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May sasabihin pa sana ito ngunit hindi na naituloy dahil dumating na si Berta. Kasunuran si Siling.

“Ay, nandito ka na pala, Rana! Kaya pala walang sumasagot sa pagkatok ko sa pinto ng kubol mo,” anang dalagang utusan pagkakita sa kanya.

“Kaaalis ko lang siguro nang dumating ka,” wika naman niya.

Maliksing naihain ni Berta ang pagkain sa lamesang bilugan.

“May iuutos pa po kayo, Senyorito?” tanong nito pagkatapos.

Umiling si Andrei. “Kami na ang bahala dito.”

Siling gave her a silly smile before turning away. Panay ang pagkilig at pagbulong nito kay Berta nang makalayo na sa kinaroroonan nila.

Nahuhulaan na niya kung ano ang iniisip ng mga ito tungkol sa kanilang dalawa ni Andrei.

“Can you guess what they’re thinking about us?” untag ni Andrei. Inoobserbahan pala ang reaksiyon niya.

She nodded without speaking.

“Do you mind?”

“Ikaw?” tanong ni Rana pagkatapos umiling. “Hindi ka ba nababahala?”

“I don’t if you don’t,” was the perplexing reply. Nagsalin ng kape si Andrei bago nagpatuloy. “I don’t give a damn to what other people think, Rana. Ginagawa ko ang gusto ko. And I let them do their stuff, too.”

Rana was surprised to learn that they have the same philosophy.

But she could not resist the chance to needle him.

“Pero bakit pinakialaman mo si Raffy kagabi sa gusto niyang gawin sa akin?”

His dark eyes narrowed dangerously.

“Why do you ask? Are you frustrated with unslaked passion?”

Rana straightened her shoulders and looked at him directly.

“Sinabi mo kaninang gusto mong ikaw ang nasa lugar ni Raffy, hindi ba?”

“Hindi ko na uulitin ang nasabi ko na.”

“Gusto kong maging malinaw at maliwanag ang lahat — bago tayo magsimula,” ang matatag na pahayag ni Rana. “Para ngayon pa lang, nagkakaintindihan na tayo.”

Andrei was evidently intrigued.

“You want to lay down the rules?” paniniguro nito. “Hmm, this sounds interesting. Speak away, Rana,” utos nito.

“No, no, that’s not what I meant,” she denied uncomfortably.

Muling naningkit ang mga mata ng lalaki.

“Magpaliwanag ka nang maayos para maintindihan ko kung ano ang ibig mong sabihin, Rana.”

She tried to hide her discomfiture. She cleared her throat.

“Uhm, gusto ko lang malaman mo na hindi ako basta-basta papayag na maging kerida mo.”

“You’re just repeating yourself, Rana. I’m not senile yet to easily forget what you already said,” he cut in impatiently.

“Hindi naman sa gan’on,” bawi niya.

“Or am I missing something?” buwelta ni Andrei, buong panunuya. “Do you want to know how much I’ll pay? You want to raise your price, don’t you?”

Rana abandoned all caution to the winds.

“What if I do?” bawi niya. “You don’t deny that you plan to use me — later. It’s only wise that I should know my worth before you dragged me to your bed!”

“Don’t be a scheming shrew, Rana!” asik ng lalaki.

“I want a bargain,” diin niya. “My body is a serious business. Gusto kong makasiguro na hindi ako malulugi sa ‘yo!”

Halos hindi makapaniwala si Rana na ang sarili niya ang naririnig na nagsasalita nang garapalan.

But she had no choice. She did not want to be cheated…

“You sicken me!” bulalas ng lalaki, in a utter disgust. “I never have to pay for my pleasures! I can have any woman I want!” he declared angrily.

Rana remained silent. She was already having regrets but she could never take back her damning words anymore.

They stared at each other for a long while.

Their willpowers clashed in a turbulent battle.

“I admire you for trying, young Rana,” he murmured coldly. “But no woman can ever best me in this game.”

She let out a shaky breath. “At least, I tried,” sambit niya habang tumitindig.

“Saan ka pupunta?”

“I sicken you, didn’t I?” paalala niya. “Aalis na ako sa harapan mo.”

“I don’t remember telling you to go, Rana.”

“You still want me to go with you?” She tried to curb the relief in her voice.

Akala niya, nilipad na rin sa hangin ang oportunidad niya.

“Sa kabila ng — ?” dugtong niya, pabitin.

Tumango ang lalaki habang napapangiti.

“You’re just trying to annoy me, don’t you? So that I’ll let you go your own way?”

Nagkibit ng isang balikat si Rana. She was breathing easily again.

“Yes,” pagsisinungaling niya.

“And I bet, you’ll do it again,” he continued, while chuckling.

“You bet,” she said with forced cheekiness.

“Tsk! tsk! I applaud you for having the spunk to defy me,” he chided her mockingly.

“You’re not mad at me?” paniniguro niya.

“Now that I think about it, I’m not angry anymore,” wika ng lalaki.

Saka lang nakumpleto nang husto ang kalma ni Rana.

“C’mon, let’s eat,” aya ng lalaki. Nilagyan nito ng tinapay ang kanyang pinggan.

Nagsimula silang kumain.

“Nakapag-ayos ka na ba ng mga gamit?” tanong ng lalaki nang medyo humahaba na ang katahimikan.

Umiling si Rana.

“Kaunti lang naman ang mga gamit ko kaya madali lang iyon ayusin,” tugon niya. “Kailan mo ba balak umalis?”

“Depende na sa mga kasama ko. Parang gusto ko pang dumito muna habang nagpaplano kami ng panibagong grupo. At habang nagsusulat ng mga bagong kanta.”

“Ano’ng ibig mong sabihin?” taka niya. “Sira na ang grupo mo?”

THE RUNAWAY WIFE-18

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