The Runaway Wife-22

Mistula namang mga bata pang nagpasaway ang dalawang may balak na ngang magbangayan.

“Sorry, Mr. Montevista. Talagang ganito lang kami,” Brigitte apologized sheepishly.

“Pasensiya ka na, Mr. Montevista.” Si Chanda naman.

“Huwag n’yo na akong tawaging ‘Mr. Montevista’. Masyadong mahaba ‘yon. ‘Andrei’ na lang.”

Naglabas ng filofax si Purita. Hinugot nito ang mamahaling ballpen sa gilid at iniabot sa kanya.

“Pahingi naman ng autograph, Andrei. Tagahanga mo ako at ang tatlong dalagang anak ko, e!”

“Ay, kami rin, kami rin!” Nag-unahang maglabas ng mga papel at panulat ang dalawa pang kaharap.

Nakatawa siya habang pinagbibigyan ang mga ito.

“Thank you for liking my songs, lovely ladies,” sambit niya habang isinusulat ang mga kataga.

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“Naku, salamat! Tiyak na matutuwa si Gerry! Kumpleto ang collection niyon ng mga albums and CDs ng banda mo,” pagmamalaki ni Brigitte.

“Ako rin, ha?” bawi ni Chanda. Ayaw talagang magpatalbog. “Teenager pa lang ako, fan mo na ako, Andrei!”

“Maraming salamat sa pagtangkilik n’yo sa amin,” tugon ni Andrei, hiding his wince.

He was thirtynine now.

And was feeling suddenly older than that when he saw Rana again.

The private show begun. Rana had modelled six evening gowns, complete with different looks and moods.

And succeeded with only the essential elegance that she had in abundance.

Iba’t ibang Rana ang nasaksihan ni Andrei.

Six distinctively attractive women but with the same delectable allure that enticed him endlessly.

Rana was more tempting and seductive than before — maybe because she was more mysterious and enigmatic now.

Nawala na nga ba ang dalagang sumamba sa kanya…?

Nakangiti ang mga labing mapupula ngunit hindi ang mga matang misteryosa.

“She’s beautiful!” sighed Brigitte enviously. “Kung magiging ganyan din ba ako kaganda kapag suot ko ang gown na ‘yan…”

“Oo nga,” Chanda agreed, in a swooning manner.

“Nakapili na ba kayo?” cut in the ever-practical Purita.

“Naku, Purita, ikaw ang pinaka-killjoy na matrona sa balat ng Pilipinas!” bulalas ni Chanda.

“Ano bang masama sa sinabi ko? Tinatanong ko lang naman kung may napili na kayo, a?”

“O, siya, siya, pumili na nga naman tayo,” pang-uulok ni Brigitte. “Sa akin ‘yung dalawang nauna.”

“The black and the red ones naman ang kukunin ko,” agap ni Chanda.

“None of the above ako,” ani Purita.

“Kung gan’on, tig-isa kami sa inayawan mo. Bale, tig-tatlo kami,” sabay pang wika nina Brigitte at Chanda. “E, bakit ba wala kang napili?” Sabay ring nagtanong.

“Naka-display sa labas ang kukunin ko, e.”

Andrei tuned out the senseless chatter of the three women when Rana came out of the backroom for the last time.

She was wearing the dark skirt and the light-colored blouse again.

She was also wearing her warm professional smile to greet them by.

“Did you enjoy the show?” tanong nito sa kanilang lahat.

Her tone was neutrally sweet as she sat on the fifth sofa chair gracefully.

“Of course, dear Miss Rana. We always enjoy them,” pahayag ni Brigitte.

“And we’ve chosen them all. Three of those gorgeous gowns will go to me and Chanda. While Purita had selected the ones you have on display.”

Tila natural na lang para kay Rana ang magkaroon ng mga kustomer na mahilig mamakyaw.

Tinawag nito ang nag-iisang tauhan sa boutique para ipahanda ang mga binili ng tatlo.

Kuntento lang na nakamasid si Andrei.

He was surprised to know that he was really enjoying himself.

It had been a long time since he had felt like this.

Was he getting domesticated with old age?

He must admit that he was craving for something more permanent these last few years…

Magmula nung matagpuan muli si Rana…

“Well, what about you, Andrei?” Bumaling si Rana sa kanya. She was giving him the blank smile again.

“Have you decided to buy a gift for your girlfriend?”

Nakuha agad nito ang atensiyon ng tatlong matrona.

“Hindi ba kayo ang magkasintahan?” usisa agad ni Chanda.

“Bagay na bagay pa naman kayo ni Miss Rana,” dugtong ni Brigitte.

Tinapik ito ni Purita.

“Hoy, huwag ka nang mang-intriga diyan. Magbayad na tayo at nang hindi tayo mahuli sa appointment natin sa derma clinic!”

Agad namang tumalima ang mga ito. Isa-isang naglabas ng mga checkbooks at gumawa ng tseke para sa mga resibong ibinigay ng assistant ni Rana.

Ilang sandali pa, tumitindig na ang mga donya para umalis.

Muling nakipagkamay si Andrei sa tatlo bago inihatid hanggang sa kotseng nakaparada sa parking space na katabi ng dala niyang sportscar.

He was feeling generous today.

“We hope to see you again, Andrei!” ang masayang paalam ng mga ito sa kanya. “Be at our dinner party! And bring Miss Rana with you!”

“We shall be there,” he promised with a smile.

He waved again before he retraced his steps.

Rana was waiting for him. Her uneasiness was unmistakable.

“Sabihin mo na ang kailangan mo, Andrei — para makaalis ka na. Gusto ko nang magpahinga.” Matigas ang tono at ang anyo nito.

Tumango siya. “I know,” he agreed. “Entertaining those ladies should be very tiring.”

Her mutinous expression softened a bit.

“They are my most charming clients,” sambit ni Rana, bahagya na ngang nakangiti ang mga labi.

“You’ll understand that I’ll want to be left alone now so please excuse me?”

Andrei nodded again. “Sure,” he replied huskily. “But I have to have this first…”

He yanked her and kissed her passionately. She pushed him away but he only dragged her back.

Her knuckles punched him uselessly.

He possessed her mouth until the fight went out of her.

Until she lay helpless and breathless.

“God, I’ve been dying to do this,” he growled against her lips. “Yield to me, Rana. Give to me again…”

“N-no,” she moaned. “Let go of me, Andrei. Please!”

He did not listen to her. He captured her lips and sucked its sweetness greedily.

Then he gathered her into his arms and picked her up.

“Ibaba mo ako, Andrei!” bulalas nito habang nagpupumiglas. “Saan mo ako dadalhin?”

“You need to rest, don’t you? I’ll take you home now. You have earned a day-off today,” pahayag niya.

“Ano?” Saglit lang ang paghinto ng nabiglang babae. “Ibaba mo ako ngayundin!” utos ni Rana, halos pahiyaw na.

THE RUNAWAY WIFE-23

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