We arrived early at the Golden Dragon Restaurant located in front of Bacolod City Hall. Its located in the heart of the city, five minutes ride from our place. The ambiance is totally Chinese; the intricate golden dragon motif with a red background, the music, the waitress uniform, and the lantern hang beautifully in each partition with silk curtains as a facade. The aroma of Chinese food triggered my voracious appetite. I composed myself and gazed at Ayah Isabel walking separately from me. Shes nervous, I thought, but shes calm, calmer than me. We are seated at the corner of the restaurant so that I can see whos coming inside the restaurant. I ordered two glasses of coca-cola soft drinks for a start and we waited.

Danielle Gustilo came ten minutes past eleven in the morning. Shes wearing a sleeveless red dress that suits her milky white skin, and a red leather clutch bag that blends with our environment. She looked at me first, then, shifted to Ayah Isabel, then sit down in front of us, as if sizing up the situation and controlling her emotion. Her face was serious. I started the conversation to break the silence. I asked her in a low voice, which I also do not know what to do. My heart kept on pounding but my heart was telling me to go on bravely with this situation. ”Danielle what would you like to have, soft drink or mineral water? ”

She did not speak at first, only looking me squarely into the eyes. Then in a minute, she said, ”Just water for me please. ”

I called the server, ordered mineral water, and asked Danielle, then Ayah Isabel for their food. Both women refused to eat. I said, ”Okay Ill order for taking out. ” A minute had passed; still, both of them did not say a word. Only, they were looking at me while I was ordering food. I sensed the broiling emotion between the two women who loved me, but, in different ways. So, without saying a word to them I called the server, ”Waitress, please, this is for takeout. Give me one order of Honey chicken with ginger shoots, one order of pork pickled mustard green noodles, and one order of wonton noodles. Have it ready, please.

” The server nodded, ”Okay sir, anything else, sir? ”

”Thats it thank you, ” I said naturally.

The waitress served our drinks and water to Danielle. I observed each one of them while I was sipping my drink. I made a move and started the conversation edging sideways looking into Danielles pretty face and thinking, to tell the truth once and for all.

”Danielle, Ill tell you the truth about our relationship…. even before the two of us… before we met…Ayah and I are living together…. while we
e attending school. She helped me a lot with my tuition and everything. Both of you loved and helped me for what I am right now. Despite the fact, that each of you, wanted me to finish my course. Im thanking you both for that matter. The problem right now concerns about the three of us…, ” my words trailing into the air with nothing to add…my mind turned tumbling down…my voice suddenly halted without a sound. The fear suddenly engulfed me all over knowing that this time was the best time to finalize the situation.

While I was thinking solution for this triangle, Danielle Gustilo stood up suddenly and said, ”I think you know that Marco, I love you from the very start when I saw you. I promised myself that only you could own my heart, nobody else, forever. I wanted to be with you, always, every second of my life. I love you more than my life. Say, what Im going to do, say it, Marco! Ill do it for you! ” Danielle started to cry hysterically while some of the restaurant guests are looking at us.

”Danielle, you know me, and…I love you! But I loved Ayah Isabel too! ” I said to pacify her anger.

I noticed Ayahs looking at me intently, drained, I sensed her feeling. I looked at her. I signaled to her, only Ayah knows what to do. Shes nervous and afraid. I had to back her up to talk, to disrupt the conversation, to erase the tension, because I had no courage to melt my feeling, in front of these two women who loved me. At last, I heard Ayah Isabel talk.

”Danielle, I understand your feeling and situation towards Marco. Not only had you who loved Marc truly, but I also loved him ever since… ” Ayah Isabel started to cry also. I saw her tears falling down her cheeks.

The anger Danielle was showing now that with all her might shouted at me, ”Marco! You
e a liar! You fooled me! ” Danielle shouted at me continuously and threw the red leather clutch bag and glass of water in my face.

The blood spurted and oozed continuously from my forehead Ayah Isabel panicked while calling for aid. The restaurant worker was very quick to reach the ambulance parked outside the Restaurant. They carried me to the ambulance and brought me to a hospital nearby. A few stitches, two-inch-long, from my forehead, were carefully bound up. I stayed at the hospital for three days. Ayah Isabel took good care of me and watched me closely.

A day before I was discharged from Doctors Hospital; Danielle Gustilo appeared in my room together with Ayah Isabel. I was expecting her, I knew, but my ego as a man boiled inside of me, especially when Ayah Isabel was around. I hated the situation but I was the one who made it. Ayah Isabel went outside the room concerning Danielle, as what I expected from Ayahs character, to give space for us to clear things. She understood all along.

Danielle angered me so much, and shes not welcome at all. I kept my silence looking at the window. I knew my decision.

”Marco, how are you? Im so sorry for what happened. Its not my intention, believe me…I was disturbed with what…, ” as Danielle held my hand tightly.

”Don worry, its done, and Im sorry too, ” I said in a low voice.

”I missed you; darling…I can sleep thinking of you… ” Danielle pleaded.

”Don touch me please…and leave. Its over, for the two of us, please leave. ” I commanded Danielle Gustilo to leave. Shes crying, not moving at all, glaring her eyes with rage.

”No, Marco!!! Its not over yet! I love you! Marco…Marc…! ” Danielle shouted continuously like a crazy lioness in distress; hysterical and in pain. She slapped my face twice, but I didn move on my bed, only looked at her with fire, nothing but fire, and shouted at her, ”Go…go…and leave me…I don care for you anymore…Im finished with you…go!!! ”

Ayah Isabel heard my decision fully that she called the hospital guard to pacify the situation. The guards held Danielle in both arms, dragging her outside, but still, she was shouting to me angrily, ”I am with you wherever you go!!! I will avenge my love for you! Marco! I love you! Marco…! ”

Ayah Isabel saw everything that happened, she was crying, she was hurt, but felt the pain of Danielle. I knew…I knew her more than any woman in this world. She had a heart of gold!

On graduation day, I met Ayahs parents who attended the rites. I was happy that my parents came too, for this memorable day. I knew my father was quite ashamed, but I assured him that everything will be alright, and they can depend on me for my brothers schooling. I will help the best I can. The thing that parents wanted their children to do after graduation – a Filipino tradition.

Ayah Isabel went home to her place south of Negros Occidental for the family matter to be settled down. She wanted to stay a little longer to help her parents with their businesses. I stopped her but shes determined to proceed with her plans. She assured me of her love, trust, and devotion. She left me alone and lonely.

I continued living my life in Bacolod City, where I have had more courage and experiences to depend upon. Another thing that I wanted to do was to help my brothers and sisters. Now, as a professional person, I had the responsibility to my parents to aid whatever I could extend to them. I tried my very best to find a job, but the economic recession of our country, the Philippines continued to slow down steadily. Negros Occidentals sugar industry was on the verge of collapse due to some other problems in importation.

My savings in the bank continued to decrease as time went by, and trying to find a job that could help me survive, and could help my family in Hinigaran, Negros Occidental my hometown. I sold all the possessions that Danielle Gustilo provided for me. Its very hard for me to find a good job with the best remuneration in Bacolod CitY.

XXX

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