Callum and I were fully clothed now as we sat in the living room with my parents. Dad’s face was flushed with anger as he held a glass of whiskey in one hand to calm his nerve. While Mama’s hand rubbed Dad’s thigh soothingly as if it was her way of trying to calm him down.
“Tell me you’re kidding, Audrey. Tell me this is just a joke.” Dad said, putting his glass down the coffee table.
“No, Dad. Kasal kami ni Callum.” I chewed on my lower lip.
“Why are you kids doing this to me?” He muttered as he massaged his temple. “Bakit ginagawa niyo sa akin ‘to?” Kayong magkakapatid, mula sa Kuya Miggy hanggang sa’yo ba naman? Medyo nabunutan na nga ako ng tinik sa kambal mo, ngayon ikaw naman.”
“Babe, don’t stress yourself out. Audrey’s old enough to make her own decisions. Pakinggan muna natin ang explanation nila.”
“We don’t even know who the fuck this is!” He held his hand out to Callum. “Tapos malalaman kong asawa ito ng anak ko.”
“I know who he is. Napakilala na sa akin ni Audrey si Callum noon.” Mama defended.
“And you didn’t even tell me?”
“Because I know this is exactly how you’d react.”
“Kung matinong lalaki yan, magpapakilala muna sa atin yan bago siya nagpakasal sa anak ko.” Dad said in controlled anger. “How long have you even known each other?”
“Dad, we love each other.” I said.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Cordova. I guess it just never crossed my mind. I’ve always been independent and I’m used to doing things on my own. Hindi ko naisip kayong pamilya ni Audrey. I didn’t mean to disrespect you.” Callum apologized with his head hung low.
“Iba naman kasi ang culture ng mga kabataan dito sa US.” Mama explained to Dad.
“Hindi pa rin tama iyon! Tayo ang mga magulang niya pero wala tayong kaalam-alam na kasal na ang anak natin!” Dad’s voice boomed in fury. “Kung hindi namin nalaman ito, wala ka bang balak sabihin sa amin, Drey?”
“This is so stupid and impulsive. What if he’s just after our money?”
“Mr. Cordova, I don’t need your family’s money. I may not be as wealthy as you but I earn enough to give Audrey a comfortable lifestyle.” He said in an even tone. He obviously was offended by Dad’s remark, his eyes were of distaste.
“He’s a doctor, Dad.” I defended him. “Dad naman, asawa ko na si Callum. Please, don’t be like this.”
“How can you tell me not to be like this when you married a man we don’t even know!” He brushed his fingers through his golden hair in frustration.
“I’m sorry, Dad. I’m so sorry. I know it was impulsive but I love him. I’ve been trapped in the past for so many years. Akala ko nga hindi ko na mararanasan ulit sumaya. But then Callum came and turned everything around. Dad, I just want to be happy.” My voice croaked at the effort not to cry.
Dad’s hard face slowly softened as he looked at me.
“Oh, Audrey.” Ma said her eyes watering with understanding and pity. “Mahal na mahal ka namin ng Daddy mo. We just want the best for you. I understand where you’re coming from pero naiintindihan ko din ang Dad mo. We just wish you told us about this. Nabigla lang kami ng Dad mo.”
“We want you to be happy, Drey. You’ve been through a lot and I’d give you all the happiness in the world if I could. Wala akong hinangad kung hindi ang maging maayos kayong magkakapatid. I would protect you at all cost and the last thing I’d want is to see you hurt.” Dad quietly said.
“Sir, mahal ko si Audrey. I’ve never loved any woman as much as I love your daughter.” He clasped our fingers together. “Marrying her in Vegas was a spur of the moment decision but it was the best decision I’ve ever made in my whole life.”
Dad leaned back against the couch and let out a long, deep exhale. “You married in Vegas? You don’t know what you two have gotten yourself into. Marriage is not that easy. Kahit kami nga ng Mama mo, I’ve loved her since she was sixteen but we still struggled. This kind of relationship we have didn’t happen overnight. We struggled really hard to get to where we are now.”
“Dad, I know that…” I said.
“Have you considered divorce?” He asked.
Nagkatinginan kami ni Callum. I didn’t want divorce and the look on Callum’s dark eyes told me that he was against the idea.
“We decided we want to give this a try, Dad.” My eyes went back to my parents.
“We’re already married and we love each other, Mr. Cordova. Wala naman sigurong masama kung susubukan namin. Hindi ko pag-iinteresan ang pera niyo dahil may sarili akong pera. You don’t have to worry about Audrey dahil kayang kaya ko siyang buhayin.” He said, keeping a straight face.
“You don’t understand the pain my daughter went through.” Dad said, his voice weak.
“I do, Mr. Cordova. I know everything she’s gone through. I want her happy just as much as you.” Callum told Dad.
“Hindi na ba talaga kita mapipigilan?” Dad looked at me.
“We love each other, Dad. Divorce isn’t an option right now. We can get a divorce anytime we want but we’re choosing to make this marriage work.”
“Very well, then. You’re old enough to make your own decisions.” He said and looked at Callum. “But if my daughter comes to me crying. I swear, you will regret the day you were born.”
“I understand, sir.” Callum nodded his head.
“Nasaan na ba ang mga magulang mo, Callum?” Mama asked.
“They’re gone. Dad died of cancer and Mom soon followed after.” He answered.
“I’m sorry.” Ma’s face softened with sympathy.
“It was a long time ago.” Callum said.
“May mga kamag-anak ka pa ba?” Tanong ni Dad.
“I have a sister but she lives in a different State. We’re not a close-knit family, sir, never have been.”
“I see. My daughter said you’re a doctor?”
“I am a psychiatrist, sir. I’m originally from Baltimore. I used to work at John Hopkins but I happened to land a job here at San Francisco General Hospital.” Callum answered.
“How long have you two been married?” Dad asked.
“Almost three weeks.” I bit my bottom lip.
“Nagpunta kami dito ng Mama mo para sabihin sa’yo na ikakasal na ang kambal mo.”
Dad sighed. “Pero hindi namin alam na mas nauna ka pa pala.”
“Who’s he going to get married to? Bakit wala siyang nabanggit sa akin?” I asked feeling happy and excited for my brother.
“Biglaan din iyon. Magpapakasal na sila ni Anais.” Dad said.
“Finally.” My lips stretched into a smile. “Oh, I’m sure matutuwa si Cookie! Magigin complete na ang family niya. How is he?”
“Malaki na si Cookie and he’s a very smart boy. Nagmana lang sa kapilyuhan sa Dada niya pero matalinong bata.” Nakangiting kwento ni Mama.
“I miss him so much.” I sighed.
“Kaya nga kami nagpunta ditto para sunduin k asana. Anais and Coco wants you as their Maid of Honor.” Mama smiled.
“They knew you were going to say no kaya hindi nila muna sinabi sa’yo. Iyon na lang ang hinihinging wedding gift ng dalawa sa’yo. Pagbigyan mo na…” Ma said.
“Why don’t you come with us, Callum? Para naman makilala ka din ng pamilya.” Dad suggested.
“That’s not a bad idea.” Mama nodded her head.
Callum looked at me as if asking what he should tell them.
“Now that you’re my daughter’s husband, parte ka na ng pamilyang ito. Unlike yours, we’re a tight knit family. I want to get to know you more. Gusto ko din makilala ka ng mga anak ko at gusto kong makilala mo din sila.” Tiim na sabi ni Dad.
“Dad, I’m not even sure if I’m going to Coco’s wedding.” Sabi ko.
“That’s your twin brother’s wedding, Audrey.” Ma reminded.
“I know but…” I trailed off, biting my lower lip.
“Drey, they’d be very disappointed if you don’t come to their wedding.” Sabi ni Mama.
“I’d have to think about it, Ma.”
Dad and Callum were on the living room right now, they were having a drink and I was sure Dad was interrogating my husband. Mama and I went to the grocery store together earlier and had to leave the two. Natatakot pa nga ako noong una dahil baka awayin ni Dad si Callum. But I thought they were getting along just fine now.
Dad had always been meticulous and details were his forte. Lahat ng bagay kailangan niyang suriin. I knew that was what he was doing to Callum. He was observing him. He was trying to dig deeper into him. Callum looked intimidated and stiff at first but now I think he was slowly loosening up.
We had our dinner together and after dinner, Dad grabbed a bottle of brandy and invited Callum to drink with him. I peeked through the living room and the two were still having a drink, talking about God knows what.
“How’s married life?” Ma asked.
I turned to see Ma with a smile on her face. I couldn’t help but smile too.
“I feel like I’m on cloud 9 everyday, Ma. Masaya ako kay Callum.”
“I can tell…” She said.
“Biglaan ang pagpapakasal namin pero hindi ko pinagsisisihan iyon. I never thought I’d find happiness again.”
“You deserve it, Drey.” Lumamlam ang mga mata ni Mama. “Iyon lang ang gusto namin ng Dad mo. Ang makita kang masaya ulit. If Callum makes you happy, masaya na din kami para sa’yo.”
“Thanks, Ma.” I hugged her.
“Anything for our princess.” She said, rubbing my back.
“Ma, do you think we’ll last?”
“No one can tell. Back then, I didn’t even think my marriage with your father would last but look at us now.” Ma said with a nostalgic smile.
“Ano ba ang secret niyo ni Dad?”
“Syempre dapat palagi kayong may tiwala sa isa’t-isa. You need to try to always understand each other. Importante din yung communication. And of course, sex. Lots of it.”
“Ma!” My eyes widened as I laughed. I never in my wildest imagination thought I’d hear the last part from my own mother. I mean, of course, we did get the birds and bees lesson from Mama but that was as far as it could get.
“Sinasabi ko lang.” Ma laughed along. “Men are sexually irrepressible, it’s their nature.”
“So you and Dad still…” I couldn’t even finish my sentence because I was giggling so hard.
“Of course, we’re still active. Hindi pa naman kami ganon katanda.” Ma answered. Ma may be in her 40s but she looked younger than her age. You could mistake her for a woman in her late 20s or early 30s. There was not a single wrinkle on her face. Si Dad din naman, he doesn’t look like he was in his 50s. If anything, time had only made Dad look more refined and dignified.
“Drey…” Sumeryoso ang muka ni Mama. “It will be nice kung pupunta ka sa wedding ni
Coco. Matutuwa ang kambal mo at miss na miss ka nan g mga kapatid mo pati ni Cookie. You don’t have to scared of anything, honey. Hinding-hindi hahayaan ng Dad mong masaktan ka pa ng kahit na sino.”
“I know that.” I took a deep breath.
“Drey, please.” Ma said.
“Pag-iisipan ko muna, Ma.” I said.
My head was resting on top of Callum’s chest while my fingers traced random shapes on his skin. I knew from his breathing that Callum was still awake. I looked up at him. His eyes averted to me from the ceiling and he gave me a lazy smile.
“What are you thinking of?” I asked him.
He shook his head. “Nothing. What about you?”
“Iniisip ko yung wedding ni Coco. I don’t know if I should go…” I silently said.
“You should because I’m going to be there.” Sabi naman ni Callum.
“Pumayag ka?” I lifted my head up, my brows furrowed as I looked at him.
“Your Dad didn’t give me a choice. He said I have to be there.”
“You should’ve said no!”
“He said he’ll disown me as his son-in-law if I don’t come to your brother’s wedding. Kailangan daw akong makilala ng pamilya niyo.” He played with a few strands of my hair.
“Ugh! Si Dad talaga! Napasubsob ako sa dibdib niya. “You don’t have to go. Just tell him you can’t leave your job here.”
“I don’t want to get on Dad’s bad side.”
“Dad?” My brow arched.
“Ganon na kayo ka-close?”
He chucled. “He’s my father-in-law. What am I supposed to call him?”
“Hindi naman ako makatanggi sa Dad mo baka sabihin niya hindi ako marunong makisama. Besides, I haven’t been in the Philippines since I was a teenager. Ayaw mo bang umuwi at makita ang pamilya mo?” He asked.
I didn’t answer. Instead, I shifted and turned my back on him. Callum spooned me, wrapping his arm around my waist. There was something i never told him, something he doesn’t know about me and wouldn’t want him to know.
“Hey, what’s wrong?” He gently asked, his lips playing on the shell of my ear. “Audrey, wala kang dapati ikatakot. I’ll be with you and I promise, I won’t let anyone hurt you. You’re my wife now. I want to meet your family and I want to get to know you better. Let go, Audrey. I want you to let go of your past.”
“Okay.” My voice squeaked.
“Okay, we’ll go to my brother’s wedding.”