The Moment

"Pag-ibig, 'pag na'sok sa puso nino man,

Hahamakin ang lahat, masunod ka lamang."

Francisco Balagtas, Florante at Laura


Translation? In Meatloaf's immortal words, "I will do anything for love."

There was no time to waste.

I drove fast. I channeled my inner Michelle Rodriguez and doubtlessly induced road rage in the other motorists on the streets of Manila on that early Saturday night. Not that I cared. I just needed to get to get to Jon fast and in one piece.

His mom was not home, seeing that her usual black Town and Country was not in the garage. Thank goodness, I thought as Alma, their housemaid ushered me through the front door. I didn't think I could endure having to explain why I had pulverized her jetlagged son's heart.

When we reached the door to his room, I quietly thanked Alma and she quickly turned to leave.

Here we go.

My heart in my throat, I slowly twisted the knob and let myself in.

Jon was seated on the black two-seater couch, cradling his guitar between his hands and lap. He stopped strumming the strings the instant he saw me and placed the guitar on the floor. If he was surprised that I had come unannounced, he showed absolutely no traces it.

"Hi," I said, my voice cracking with that one syllable.

He cocked his head back to regard me carefully. "So. Back to the last resort."

His tone was neutral, but the meaning was biting. Those usually warm eyes were now cautious and wary and brimming with hurt. He looked relaxed sitting there on the old couch, but his arms were crossed and his hands were balled into fists.

But I had come here for only one reason and that was for him to come back to me. I had to win him back. I had to develop not just balls, but balls made of steel.

I had thought of this thoroughly as I raced down the roads and expertly weaved through the light traffic on the way here. What would it take to make him love me again? What would work? What would make him believe me?

I needed to catch him off guard.

He liked theatrics. He was spontaneous and fun. He was high-spirited and effervescent, the life of every party.

Except he wasn't so right now.

He needed a Kara Florendo moment. Just as I needed big doses of Jon Aurelio moments when I had my own feelings trampled on and disregarded. But what the hell constituted such a moment?

"A Kara Florendo m-moment," I faltered.

The expression on Jon's face bordered between clueless and annoyed. "Huh?"

Balls of steel! I reminded myself silently. I cleared my throat and straightened my back, looking him straight in the eye. "You need a Kara Florendo moment," I declared.

He just gazed back at me for a few seconds. "Okay," he said slowly, "but I still don't quite follow."

Balls of steel, balls of steel!

I didn't sing. I didn't sing inside the car, I didn't sing in the shower, I didn't sing in church, I didn't even sing karaoke. I knew I sounded bad. I was hopelessly out of tune. No one had heard me sing – not Jon, not Rob, not Vicky, not my friends from high school or university. It was a perpetual joke between my siblings that I sounded like I was reciting a poem when I was in fact attempting to sing. I had vowed so many years ago that I would never, ever let anybody hear my singing voice again.

It was time to break that vow.

One of the movies Jon and I never tired of was Benny and Joon. It was this old romcom from the '90s starring Johnny Depp and Mary Stuart Masterson as a pair of misfits who fell in love. While I wasn't quite a schizophrenic and Jon was nowhere near being a loafer, the Joon-Sam love story seemed like it drew inspiration from ours. She just needed some extra care, the kind that only he could provide.

That was why the song choice was a no-brainer. We had watched the movie so many times that I had the words permanently imprinted in my mind.

With a shaky breath, I forced the words off my tongue.

When I wake up, well, I know I'm gonna be

I'm gonna be the girl who wakes up next to you

My hands immediately broke into a sweat. Oh my God, I sound like a frog.

Jon's face remained passive...or maybe mildly interested, the way his lips were upturned in a slight smirk and his fists were now uncurled. I continued.

When I go out, yeah, I know I'm gonna be

I'm gonna be the girl who goes along with you


If I get drunk, well, I know I'm gonna be

I'm gonna be the girl who gets drunk next to you

And if I haver, hey, I know I'm gonna be

I'm gonna be the girl who's havering to you

It was at that point that Jon took out his iPhone and held it up. When I heard a soft chime, I knew he had started taking a video.

Fuck, I can't do this. I almost stopped singing, utter awkwardness eating away my guts. But I knew it was something I just had to do, if I wanted to win him back. It was a small price to pay for him to give me a chance to explain myself. I just closed my eyes and took another deep, struggling breath before launching into the chorus.

But I would walk five hundred miles

And I would walk five hundred more

Just to be the girl who walked a thousand miles

To fall down at your door

I paused. It was meant to be an upbeat song, but with all the emotions I was feeling right at that moment, it sounded like a sad love song gone bad. I could feel my face flaming in extreme embarrassment.

"Go on," Jon murmured, not taking his eyes off the video he was taking.

When I'm working, yes, I know I'm gonna be

I'm gonna be the girl who's working hard for you

And when the money comes in for the work I do

I'll pass almost every penny on to you


When I come home, oh, I know I'm gonna be

I'm gonna be the girl who comes back home to you

And if I grow old, well, I know I'm gonna be

I'm gonna be the girl who's growing old with you


But I would walk five hundred miles

And I would walk five hundred more

Just to be the girl who walked a thousand miles

To fall down at your door

To say I felt foolish was an understatement. I stood there in the middle of the room, warbling in my usual off-key way and wearing my heart on my sleeve, while he sat on the couch, silent and brooding and holding up his phone. I pushed myself to just finish the song, no matter how horrible I sounded, no matter how humiliated I felt.

When I'm lonely, well, I know I'm gonna be

I'm gonna be the girl who's lonely without you

And when I'm dreaming, well, I know I'm gonna dream

I'm gonna dream about the time when I'm with you


When I go out, well, I know I'm gonna be

I'm gonna be the girl who goes along with you

And when I come home, yes, I know I'm gonna be

I'm gonna be the girl who comes back home with you

I'm gonna be the girl who's coming home with you


But I would walk five hundred miles

And I would walk five hundred more

Just to be the man who walked a thousand miles

To fall down at your door

The song was finished. I stood there awkwardly, twisting my hands, half-smiling and half-wincing in both humiliation and anticipation. I realized I couldn't wait for what he was about to say next.

Jon lowered his phone and regarded me quietly. "That's it?" he finally said. "That's my so-called Kara Florendo moment?"

My heart immediately sank. I couldn't speak for a moment as wounded thoughts flew wildly in my mind. He didn't like it. It was a stupid, shallow attempt. It wasn't anything special, not after all those wonderful, creative things he's done. I blinked rapidly, trying to contain the tears that wanted to claw their way up and exit through my eyes. "Y-yeah," I whispered.

He tore his eyes away from me and affixed them out the window. "You think, after coming here and murdering that song, everything's going to be okay? Everything's going to fall into place?" he asked. His tone was soft, but it was scornful.

"I – " I honestly didn't know what to say. I had thought he would see the effort I exerted to be able to go through that mortifying exercise. I had thought he would at least appreciate the gesture. But that didn't happen. He acted like I was a child that had messed up her biggest ballet recital.

I had to change the plan. Fast.

"Look, Jon," I started, "I don't have fancy words or cute props or creative tricks to bowl you over."

He shrugged.

"I just did that – " I grimaced " – so you'd give me a chance to tell you why we should give this another shot."

"And that is?" he dead panned.

"And that's because I love you," I said, my voice quivering. It was time for the truth – simple and straight to the point. I felt a hot tear roll down my cheek. "I want to be the one to make you happy. I want to be the one to make you smile. I want all of you. I want you all to myself. I won't accept it if you aren't mine."

His eyes were stormy, untrusting, still not looking at me. "And that's for you to decide?"

"No," I said in a small voice. "But maybe, if you can admit to yourself that you still do love me, you'd think the same way."

He whipped his head around to cast me a stern look. "Yeah, 'cause you're only just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her, right?" he said sarcastically. "Wow."

I didn't want to blubber through the entire night anymore. Absolute exhaustion crept into my body after hearing his cutting words. I just wanted to know if there was still reason for me to fight on. But are you ready for his answer? Can you take it? Remember, suicide is not an option.

"Just say you don't love me and I'll be on my way," I heard myself say. My tears had amazingly dried up. My voice was steady, controlled, even when I could hear the staccato thumping of my heart inside my chest. Like a martyr embracing the finality of death.

He answered in a heartbeat. "I don't love you," he replied flatly.

Suicide is now an option.

The pain in my heart was something I had thought to be unimaginable. It moved deep and fast, seeping into every part of my body. It left my entire being cold and sad and shivering.

I don't love you.

I knew this kind of heartbreak didn't leave as easily as others did. It felt permanent.

But I had a ready spiel for this. While I prayed for a happy ending, I had also prepared for the exact opposite – rejection. Save face, gather what was left of my pitiful pride, act like a civilized adult. "Well," I began, but there was something stuck at the roof of my mouth. I cleared my throat. "Well, then I guess there isn't a reason why I should stay."

"Guess not." He picked up his guitar and started fiddling with the strings, now turning his attention away from me.

I cleared my throat again, trying to remove that small, sticky ball trapped inside. "I just want to say, whatever its worth – I'm sorry." I wanted to wail, to hang my head and weep, but I stopped myself. I needed to say this. "I'm sorry for lying to you, sorry for hurting you. I didn't mean to, but I did."

I continued, even when he chose to act as if I wasn't there in the room with him. "Please don't think that you're the last resort. You never were. I chose you. I still choose you. It will always be you. This doesn't mean I'm going back to him – not now, not ever. Even if you don't love me."

My heart grew heavier when he stayed focused on his guitar. His eyes didn't even flicker over to look at me, the expression on his face didn't change with any of the words I had just uttered. But still I plunged on, my voice full of undisguised emotion. "I know I've said this before, but…I've loved you as honestly and sincerely as I know how. I still do."

A few moments passed by in silence. I just stood there, looking and feeling like shit, while he continued to blatantly ignore me. My throat seriously started to itch. "Jon…aren't you going to say something?" I asked desperately.

It was only then that his eyes swung back to look at me. "No," he said shortly. He tilted his head to refer to the door. "You can already leave."

It was as if he had slapped me across the face. "Oh," I choked out. "Okay."

Oh my God. I can't believe this is happening. My eyes filled up with hot, desolate tears. I slowly twisted around and headed blindly towards the door. Go, Kara! Leave!

But I didn't want to leave. The burning in the base of my throat was still there. It was actually the need to lash out, the refusal to just be passive and submit to this one-sided decision without putting up a good fight.

"On second thought," I sputtered out, angrily brushing away the moisture from my eyes and whirling around to face him, "I don't want to go. I still have some more things to say."

He rolled his eyes, but set aside the blasted guitar. "Knock yourself out."

"I love you, Juan Enrique Aurelio. You hear me? I love you."

That demanded his attention. And it got exactly that.

"I love your wide smile, your handsome, mestizo face. I love thinking about how beautiful our kids will be and how they can be commercial models and support us as soon as they come out so we can retire early. I love how your laugh is so loud that you don't need a mike when talking to a crowd. I even love how you flirt with just about everyone, because you're charming and you just can't help it."

I was breathing hard and fast now, but I couldn't stop. "But I also love how much you love your mom. I love how you gave your dad a chance, even if he didn't deserve it. I love that you're spontaneous and crazy and so full of yourself, because you have every right to be. You know how to make everyone smile. You're that kind of guy."

I looked earnestly at him, pleaded with my eyes and my soul. "And I love the way you love me, the way you accepted me and made me feel whole again."

I stalked over to stand right above his relaxed position on the couch. "I know it's impossible that you don't love me. It's just impossible! I know you and you love me," I said, my voice rising. "You love my legs, you love my butt. Oh, and you love making love to me!"

I bent on one knee to stare at his beautiful face. "But you also love my stubbornness, my control freak tendencies and the way I fight for every little thing I believe in. You said so," I appealed, more softly. "And don't you raise your eyebrows at me! You know it's true!"

To my disbelief, Jon laughed. He laughed out loud, clutching his stomach with both hands.

I quickly got to my feet and took a few wobbly steps away from him. I didn't know what to think. I felt dangerously close to tears again, mortified and embarrassed beyond belief. But he just continued to laugh.

"Fine, laugh at me! You think this is funny? This is all a joke to you?" I cried, watching his face turn from bright pink to a deep red.

I battled between bringing a knee to his face or just fleeing before I drove myself home and drowned both in tears and in wine. I quickly decided to just leave. "You already took a video of me singing. Why don't you take a video of me now?" I said bitterly, backing away from his snickering figure on the black couch. "I'm so gone."

I was almost at the door when his titters finally faded away. "You know why I took a video?" he called out.

My hand was already on the knob, but I stopped and closed my eyes. I didn't turn around. "God knows why you did," I muttered, "but fine, tell me."

"Oh, I thought it deserved some airtime in our – what do you call that shit? Oh yeah, pre-nup video."

Pre-nup video.

In our wedding. When we get married.

I almost couldn't breathe. I felt faint, lightheaded.

He loves me. He does love me!

I whirled around, my face crumpling as tears started to run down my cheeks.

And he was suddenly there, wrapping those wonderful arms around me and burying his face in my neck. I was overcome with incredible happiness and relief and dizziness to feel him embracing me again, feel him loving me again. I encircled my own arms around his neck and continued to sob uncontrollably.

He loves me!

"You asshole," I whispered, pinching his left ear not too gently.

"I love you too," he said tenderly, pulling my hand off his earlobe. "You didn't think I'd let you get off the hook that easily?"

I tossed my head back and laughed, even as tears continued to cascade down my face. "Yeah, how stupid of me," I admitted, sniffling.

We held each other like that for a few more moments. "I'm sorry," I whispered again, hugging him tighter. I took a deep, uneasy breath. "For Rob, for seeing him, for – "

"I'm sorry too," he cut in gruffly. "I did a lot of sorry things in the States." His voice was muffled with his lips on my shoulder.

There's a whole lot of time we can discuss those 'sorry things', I thought, running my fingers through his hair and feeling another jolt of complete joy course through me. But not now.

I looked up into his eyes as our mouths met and melted into a slow, spine-tingling kiss.

He loves me was all my mind conjure at that moment. He loves me, he loves me, he loves me.

"You were saying something about loving making love to me," he growled against my lips, his hands traveling down to slip underneath my dress.

I smiled. "I said you loved making love to me," I corrected him, grinding my hips back against his.

He reached behind me to lock the door. "Does it really matter?" he asked huskily and I responded by lifting the hem of his shirt.

I realized this was better than Haagen-Dazs ice cream, jilted Palawan trips, supermarket stalking and old silver ties. So much better.

The first Jon Aurelio-Kara Florendo moment. The first in the series, the series that fortunately would stretch on to forever, the one that would never end.

It was like falling in love all over again.

The song to be used for the pre-nup video is Make You Feel My Love by Adele, the same song I listened to as I wrote this final chapter.

Talk to me on Twitter: ReeechBeeetch #Flaw #Last