Chapter Sixteen

He made me feel like a teenager in love all over again. He would randomly have flowers sent to me, he takes me out on dates, and he calls and texts me throughout the day. He lit up my life. He’d given me hope that maybe someday I’d be able to have my happy ending too.

“Audrey.” Daisy, the receptionist greeted me with a smile on her face. “How are you? I haven’t seen you in a while. I thought you’ve already been seeing a new psychiatrist.”

Daisy had been working here for as long as I’d been seeing my previous psychiatrist and we’d been friends since. I never forget to give her and my psychiatrist then, Cindy, Christmas gifts every year. Mrs. Keri, Cindy, and her were the only people I regularly interact with before Callum. She was a nice, stout, middle-aged woman with curly red hair who likes to gossip. I’d usually chat with her and listen to her neverending stories about people she worked with while I wait for my name to be called. That’s why even when I don’t interact with them, I feel like I already know them through her stories.

“I’m doing good.” I smiled at her. “Is Dr. Francois in?”

“I’m sorry, hun, I believe you don’t have a schedule with him today. He’s done with his last patient a few minutes ago and usually at this time, he’s already getting ready to go home. How about I schedule you for tomorrow?” She suggested.

“I’m not here to see him as his patient. I want to surprise him.”

“Oh.” Her eyes widened into two big circles.

“We’re just friends.” I defensively explained.

“A man as hot as Dr. Callum and a woman as beautiful as you wouldn’t simply be friends.” She teasingly said and shrugged. “But it’s none of my business so…”

“Can I come into his office?” I asked.

“Dr. Sophie’s in.”

“Dr. Sophie?” My brows arched.

“The other shrink.” She answered and then leaned closer to me. “You might want to watch out for her. She obviously got the hots for Dr. Callum. I mean I can’t blame her, most nurses are crushing on him but Dr. Sophie’s not as subtle when it comes to flirting with him.”

I bit my bottom lip. I felt something I wasn’t allowed to feel. Jealousy. I shouldn’t be jealous as Callum and I weren’t in a relationship. He’s allowed to see any woman he wants to see.

I was about to turn to leave when the door to his clinic opened and a beautiful woman with brown hair came out. Callum followed behind her and they were talking and laughing about something.

“Audrey!” Callum smiled when he saw me. Lumapit siya sa akin at ipinulupot ang isang bisig niya. He gave me a kiss on the forehead. “Hey, beautiful. You didn’t say you were going to come ever. What are you doing here?”

“I just want to visit you.” I shrugged.

He let out a huge smile and then turned his head to Dr. Sophie. “I want you to meet Dr. Sophie Doyle, she’s the new resident psychiatrist that I’m supervising.”

I smiled at her. “Hi, nice to meet you.”

“Sophie, this is Audrey, my girlfriend.” He said.

“I’m very pleased to meet you too, Audrey.” With hands folded in front of her, her red lips stretched into a perfect smile. “You are one lucky girl.”

My head snapped at Callum. Did he just said what I thought he said? He look down at me with a huge proud grin on his face.

“We have to go. My girlfriend obviously can’t wait for a date tonight.” He said.

My brows arched up. What a cocky bastard.

“Have a good one.” Dr. Sophie said and starting walking to where we were standing. She stopped in front of Callum and gave him a double Italian cheek kiss while her maroon painted finger lightly brushed on his nape. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Callum awkwardly pulled away, looking a bit stunned. She was obviously flirting with him. Good thing hindi pinatulan ni Callum iyon or I would’ve walked out right away. Dr. Sophie looked like a woman who’d aggressively chase after what she wanted. And I knew she wanted Callum. I’d encountered women like her before.

Callum said a proper goodbye to Dr. Sophie. We went out of the hospital and to the parking lot.

“I don’t remember agreeing to be your girlfriend.” I said as we were walking “Nanliligaw ka pa lang. I didn’t say yes.”

“You will, eventually.” He chuckled.

“Ang yabang mo talaga.” I rolled my eyes at him.

“Mayabang daw pero ako ang pinupuntahan mo ngayon.” He teasingly said.

“Kasi palagi na lang ikaw ang pumupunta sa akin.” I said. “Don’t worry, this will be the last time.”

“I was just kidding.” He said.

I invited Callum to my house and we dropped by the grocery because he wanted to buy wine for us. I cooked steak for us and made a salad and parmesan shrimp risotto. I thought it’d be nice to have home cooked dinner instead of going out tonight.

“Pinaghandaan mo talaga ‘to.” He was leaning against the countertop with a glass of wine in one hand while I got our food ready. “Mukhang may balak ka na naman sa akin.”

“You are so into yourself.” I rolled my eyes, placing the salad I’d just tossed on top of our table. “I just want to make dinner for us dahil palagi na lang tayong kumakain sa labas. I want us to have a nice homecooked meal for a change.”

“Too bad I’m a doctor and not a chef.” He shrugged. “I usually just dine out or microwave frozen meals.”

“Kaya nga ako na lang ang nagcook ng dinner para sa atin. Even your pancakes sucked.” I said.

“Why are you so hard to please?” He frowned.

We ate a nice dinner together in the living room while we watched the movie he picked, Django Unchained. After we finished our food, I found myself in his arms as he spooned me in the couch.

We laid here together not out of desperation, without intimacy or the expectation of sex. He was so absorbed with the movie, his arm wrapped around my waist and our feet tangled together. The intimacy we have now were in a whole new level. I had never connected with someone so deeply that I didn’t worry about being vulnerable. To have someone understand your mind, even when sometimes you don’t, is the best intimacy.

“How long have you and Dr. Sophie started working together?” I chewed on my bottom lip.

He lifted his head up to look at me and his brow furrowed. “I don’t know. Nagsimula siya about two weeks ago.”

“Mm…” I said. “And you didn’t tell me about her?”

“Well, I don’t think it’s really relevant. I don’t like talking about work when I’m not at work.” He said and then squinted suspiciously. “Wait. Are you jealous?”

My brows raised as high as Mt. Everest. “Masyado ka talagang feeling. I’m just asking.”

“I just don’t see why we need to talk about her.” He said, grinning. “I mean you don’t hear me talk about Daisy or Lupe or any of the women I work with at the hospital. You’re jealous, aren’t you?”

“I’m not.” I denied. Good thing all the lights were turned off and the only thing that was on in my house was the tv and the heater or he’d see me blushing like a tomato. “It’s just that… I think she kind of likes you.”

“Well, I hate to break this to you but a lot of woman in SFGH likes me.” He winked and then lowered his head to kiss my shoulder and murmur against it. “Too bad I only got my eyes on one woman. Kaya lang ang hirap ligawan.”

“Nahirapan ka pa sa lagay nay an?” I cocked a brow. “You’re having it easy.”

“I think you’re just playing hard to get.” His chuckle vibrated against my skin.

“Hindi ka lang talaga marunong manligaw.”

“Paano ba nakuha ng past boyfriends mo ang matamis mong oo.”

“Past boyfriend. I only had one. Ikaw ba, ilan na naging girlfriend mo?”

“One in middle school. Two in highschool. I was lonely in college so I had a bunch of short flings. None in medschool, I was too focused on my studies. And one in the hospital where I used to work, she was a neurologist. He said.

“So that’s…” I paused, counting it in my mind. “Four girlfriends and a bunch of short flings.”

“Yeah.” He answered. “Ano bang nagustuhan mo sa naging boyfriend mo noon? What made him special?”

“Nothing. I was young and everybody’s having boyfriends and he happened to be a popular basketball player in our school. You know how teenage girls are and their idea that ‘love’ should be the center of everything.”

“So you just dated him because you were a dumb teenage girl.”

“Exactly. I just wanted to know if love is as magical as how they describe it in the movies and the books I read.”

“How long have you been together?”

“Six months.” I answered. “On and off. We used to fight a lot because we rarerly go out on dates and see each other. Hindi daw niya nararamdaman na girlfriend niya ako. Mahigpit kasi si Dad sa akin at ang twin brother ko na si Coco palaging nakabantay sa akin. It was an okay relationship even though it wasn’t how I pictured.”

“You two broke up because of it?”

I shook my head and giggled. “We broke up because I didn’t want him to feel me up. Pinagbigyan ko na nga siya sa French kiss, even though he was a sloppy kisser but he wanted to touch my boobs. Pinipilit niya ako sabi niya wala daw masama doon kasi boyfriend ko siya. I felt so uncomfortable that I ended up punching him on the face. I think I even broke his nose.”

“That was badass. Poor guy.” Tumawa nang malakas si Callum.

I laughed as I reminisced. “I never saw him again after that. I heard he even got his nose fixed.”

“I hope I don’t piss you off in the future and I sure hope I’m not a sloppy kisser.”

“You’re not a sloppy kisser.” I cupped his face in one hand. “I may have only kissed two men in my life but we definitely know who’s the winner.”

His face went down to mine and his lips touched my lips. We kissed for what seemed like an eternity. He stroked my hair, his fingers gently raked my scalp. Each time his lips were on mine, it still sends electricity down my spine. We pulled away when my lungs were already burning from lack of oxygen. I took in a deep breath and then relaxed against him again. He stroked my hair, kissing the back of my head.

“Mama toldt me to only give myself to the man I could picture spending the rest of my life with. She taught me to wait. I sometimes wish I didn’t listen to her. If I knew I’d have my virginity taken away from me in the worst possible way, I would’ve just given it to Sean. Even though he was self-centered and thinks the whole world revolves around him, he was better than those men…” I swallowed the lump in my throat.

He soothingly rubbed my shoulder. “Everything will be okay, I promise. I won’t allow you to get hurt again for as long as I’m here.”

I knew it was already morning when I woke up as the sun was shining through the window in my living room. With eyes still closed, my hand tried to reach for my phone under the pillow where I usually place it. I held my phone in my hand and I tried to open my heavy eyes. I saw Therese’s name flash on the screen.

“Hi, girl!” She waved at me, the black face mask on her face almost made me throw my phone.

“Therese!” I said. “You scared me!”

“My pretty face scared you?” She laughed.

“Good morning, beautiful.” Suddenly I saw Callum’s head popped from behind me through the screen.

“Callum!” Agad akong napatayo. “What are you doing here?”

“What do you mean what am I doing here? We watched a movie last night.” HE stretched out his arms.

“Hi, Callum.” T waved at him with a smile that reached her ears. “Are you Audrey’s boyfriend?”

“I’d love to be but unfortunately, she still hasn’t said yes.” Callum happily answered.

“Let’s talk later.” I told T.

“Ano’ng talk later? We haven’t talked in like two weeks now and this is the only free time I have. We definitely have something to talk about!” Nakangising sabi niya.

“I’m going to go to the kitchen and um… make breakfast for us. What do you want?” I asked Callum.

“Whatever you have is fine.” He said, yawning.

I got up from the couch and went to the kitchen. Inilapag ko sa counter top ang phone ko, leaning against the wall.

I huffed and rolled my eyes. “Hindi ka talaga nagkamali sa pinili mong profession. Ang tsismosa mo.”

“Well, what can I say? This is my passion.” She laughed and then pouted. “You have a lot of things you’re not sharing with me anymore!”

“I don’t know how to tell you about Callum” I said, opening the fridge and taking out eggs.

“He’s a real hunk. Ano’ng nationality niya? He looks Spanish.” She said.

“He’s Filipino.” Sabi ko. “Him and his family only moved here when he was a child.”

“How long have you been seeing him?”

“We’ve been hanging out for like two months now. He’s a great guy.” I bit my bottom lip to stop myself from smiling.

“And all the while you never even mentioned him to me!” T had a look of exasperation on her face.

“’Cause I know this is how you’d react.” I answered while I heated up the pan.

“Of course, I’m your bestfriend. I’m just so happy for you, Audrey. Finally. It’s about time na magkaron ka na din ng love life. After so many years…” She looked happier than me.

“Do you think he’s finally the one?”

“I… I don’t know.” Kibit-balikat na sabi ko at napabuntong-hininga. “All I know is that I feel happy whenever he’s around.”

“Then go for it, girl. Kahit ngayon lang, stop using your brain and follow your heart instead.” She urged. “Saka he’s super hot. Hindi ka na talo d’yan.”

We gushed about Callum while I cook our breakfast for us. Then the fun ended when Callum entered the kitchen because we couldn’t talk about him anymore. Nagpaalam na din si T because she wanted to get her beauty rest so she’d look pretty on her coverage tomorrow.

“What were you girls talking about?” He curiously asked as he pulled me to his lap while I put a plate of toast on the table. Napaupo ako sa kandungan niya. He wrapped his arms around my waist and rested his chin on my shoulder.

“Nothing important. We just caught up with each other.” I answered.

“I see.” He nodded his head. “I’ll be in Nevada next week.”

“What are you going to do there?” I ran my fingers through his hair.

“An annual meeting is held every year by the Psychiatry Association. Kailangan kong umattend doon.” He explained. “I’ll be staying there for five days.”

“Is Dr. Sophie going to be there too?” That was the first question that popped into my mind.

“Sophie will be accompanying, yes.” He answered. “That’s why I want to invite you to come with me to Nevada. Para hindi ka nag-iisip ng kung anu-ano habang nasa Nevada ako.”

“I don’t want to distract you from whatever you need to get done.” I said.

“Come on. We’ve never been out of the States together. It’ll be like a vacation for us. You will indeed distract me.” He pressed a kiss on my neck. “But you’ll be the most beautiful distraction. Besides, I don’t want to miss you.”

I let out a low chuckle. “I’ll think about it.”

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