To Have and To Hold
- Genre: Romance
- Status: Ongoing
- Language: English
- Author: fhayerytale
Love does not unfold as we often think it does. Christian and Eriane’s love story did not begin when they first met. It started when Eriane’s heart was shattered, leading her toward him. She was forced to be with him due to the consequences of a mistake she did not make. Initially, they didn’t think their hearts would choose to stay with each other and develop love, but they did. They continue to do so.
Love is a conflict, a clash. Their love has been like a battle, where they are at war with each other, engaging in combat for each other. Love also leaves ruins, just like war. They shattered each other, but in this brokenness, they became whole again. They became entirely new people because of their love. Moreover, their love has changed them so much that they cannot think back to their lives before each other and cannot visualize a future without one another.
They have come to understand that love is a maturing process, a growing up. It’s an acknowledgment that love is a long and complicated journey with enormous bitter spins and turns. They have chosen to face it together, to always find each other amidst life’s chaos, no matter the time or distance or sting between them. They are committed to enduring, intending for, and sacrificing for each other because love and the happiness it brings are always worth the struggle.
However, what if love is also about becoming conscious? What if we need to get up from the tale that love can make us ignore the past and realize that love cannot erase history because the past matters? We need to recognize that love cannot conquer everything. It’s unjust to hurt other people and consider our happiness alone.
“Love… I do not really know what love is. But I want to figure it out with you.”
Third Person’s POV
“What? I’m really sorry, sir, but I’m not rich like you. I can’t pay such a huge amount of money. Besides, I’m just a mere postman,” Mr. Gonzales said, as his eyes began to get blurry with tears that he fought to hold back.
Mr. Bagtas heaved a deep sigh before speaking. “Then what can you do to pay me back?” he asked, raising his brows. “What do you have?”
Mr. Gonzales looked down at his feet, unable to think of anything or anyone else but his only treasure. “I… only have my daughter, sir,” he answered.
“Then make her marry my son as payment for your debt,” Mr. Bagtas said, shocking Mr. Gonzales.
“I’m sorry, but is there really no other way?” Mr. Gonzales pleaded. “She’s all I have, sir. I only became indebted to you because I needed the money for my wife’s medication, but now she’s gone. If my daughter marries your son, then I’ll be left all alone. Sir, I’m asking for your sympathy. I can’t let that happen.”
“If you’re against it, then just pay the money back,” Mr. Bagtas replied. “I’m not even going to gain anything by making your daughter marry my son. In fact, I’m helping you give your daughter a better life. I know that you’re not capable of paying the money or even supporting your daughter with her studies. I’m only doing this because your wife was a good friend to me. Let me help you.”
[End of flashback]
I started my day a bit late today. My class was supposed to start at eight, and I was still looking forward to the extra hours of sleep. But my dad came into my room, turned on the lights, and said, “Yana, it’s already quarter to eight. You’re running late for school.”
So, I quickly rushed to get myself ready. My dad was eating his breakfast when I left, but it had already been a few minutes past 8, so I had to leave right away. Now, I looked forward to getting scolded by my teacher for the nth time.
Even after I cured my early-morning blindness with two sips of coffee and a shower prolonged by a few minutes of tangential thinking, I still wasn’t fully awake when I walked through the hallway. I looked presentable enough in my uniform, but my mind felt the opposite. I was already starting to resent this day.
As I proceeded to head into my classroom, not even paying attention to where I was going, I suddenly bumped into someone. Due to the strong impact, I fell to the ground, and the books that I was holding began to scatter all around.
“I am so sorry,” I apologized as I stood back up. I also started to remove the dust from my uniform before looking up at the person that I had bumped into.
“You are so clumsy,” he said in a cold tone. He obviously got annoyed. He was just standing while removing the dust on his clothes as well.
What? No way.
“J-John?” I immediately reacted as I recognized him. He had been my crush ever since high school.
Christian John Bagtas, a well-known student at this university because he was such a good basketball player, smart, and charming. A perfect standard.
This man was invariably known, of course, by a number of students who admired him and girls who had a crush on him. The glory of it was that he always seemed just accessible enough to be within reach but never accessible enough to actually touch.
“Of course, you know me. I am pretty popular,” he replied before starting to walk away.
I was astounded but not particularly surprised.
I remained to stare at him as I got confused, not having enough brain cells to sink in what just happened. “That is rude. He did not even apologize,” I whispered as he left before beginning to pick up my books.
I had been admiring him for years. But I never got to hear his voice — neither did I know that he was this rude.
Setting the thoughts aside, I proceeded to walk toward my classroom.
“Hey! Yana! Why are you so late?” My best friend began to ask as I entered the room. He was Matthew Jimenez.
“I have no time for your nagging, Mr. Jimenez,” I replied as I walked to my seat. “But… if I may ask, why is there no teacher yet? It is already late.” I pointed at the teacher’s table in front.
“The first subject teacher is absent. And as I can recall, there is going to be a faculty meeting in time for the second period. After that, break time! Isn’t that great?” my other best friend replied. Her name was Shane Ramos. She was the president of our class, so she knew everything.
The three of us were sitting near each other. Shane and Matthew were the only ones that I was close to on this campus. People find me intimidating, which I guess helps a lot since I don’t really like interacting with others. I became friends with them because they were the only ones who had the courage to approach me and eventually make friends with me.
“Do you guys want to chitchat in the café?” Matthew asked as he stood up and leaned toward our desk.
“Well…” I was thinking of what to say when Shane’s eyes and mine met.
Matthew let out a loud sigh before beginning to speak again. “Fine. My treat.”
“Let’s go!” Shane and I said in unison. Then we both started to laugh together.
As we reached the café, I happened to notice a group of very familiar men sitting in their usual spot at one corner of the cafeteria. It was a little weird and corny, but I thought being a bad boy did not fit John’s image and personality. He is a very cold person, and when you stare at him, you might freeze like a block of ice because of his coldness. That table in the corner of the café was their spot here. They were the only ones who had the right to sit there.
“Yana!” Shane called my nickname from the counter. “Come here. Let’s order.”
I slowly walked toward her and stopped when I got to the counter, with the menu in front of me and the cashier standing before me. “I am just going to have one iced coffee with vanilla syrup.”
“Make that three, please,” Matthew said to the cashier.
I scanned my eyes through the place to look for a table that we could occupy. The café had so many customers, and there seemed to be almost no seats available. I was losing hope until the table right behind John and his friends’ table caught my eye.
“Where are we going to sit now?” Shane asked as she also started to scan the café. “Oh! Over there!” She pointed to the table that I saw a while ago.
Matthew and Shane started to walk toward that table, while I just followed them from behind. I was avoiding taking a glance at John.
Shane sat in front of me, and Matthew chose to sit beside me while I remained standing because my seat was facing John’s direction.
“Hey, Yana. Your height has no hope anymore. Just sit down,” Matthew teased before pulling my wrist downward to make me sit.
John’s sleeves were rolled up, giving me a chance to study his arms instead as I felt really awkward staring at his face, with hopes of catching an eye sparkle or at least a dimple.
“Shut up. You’re also a shortie.” I rolled my eyes at Matthew while Shane laughed at him.
“Ah, so that’s why,” Shane also began to tease me as she pointed at the other table.
“W-What are you trying to say?” I asked, acting innocent.
“Look, there is your Mr. Standard,” Shane said, pointing directly at John, who was sitting at the very corner of the table.
“Oh, really? Can’t you see that? There is also Josh—” Shane was too fast to cover my mouth and cut off what I was about to say.
“Mr. Standard?” Matthew asked as he sipped on his coffee.
Shane giggled at his question. “You didn’t know?”
“Know what?” Matthew asked, putting his cup of coffee down on the table and obviously eager to know the tea.
“Do you know Christian Bagtas?” Shane interrupted, laughing. Well, I tried to stop her, but this girl’s mouth was just really invincible.
“Do you like CJ?” Matthew looked at me with a confused face. People usually call him CJ, but I prefer to call him by his real name.
“What? N-No!” I defended myself. “The thing is…” I was about to explain, but Shane cut me off.
“Hey, it’s been such a long time since she had a crush on him! Don’t you know? My goodness, Matthew! You’re not her best friend for nothing.” Shane teased Matthew while smirking at me.
“Really?” Matthew asked again, turning to me.
“T-That’s not true! Definitely not,” I denied.
“Huh? Ms. Gonzales? Are you sure about that?” Shane responded, poking my forehead. Both of them were just staring at me, waiting for an answer.
“Could you both please stop doing this to me? It makes me really uncomfortable,” I said in an obviously irritated tone.
“Sure, if you answer the question first,” Shane said, not letting up.
“Fine. I did. And it’s been so long. I don’t like him anymore,” I explained.
“No, you stop that nonsense,” Shane laughed harder. “I refuse to believe that. You used to blush so hard whenever he was around since we were in high school.” She is indeed so talkative. I do not even know why I still trust this girl so much.
“Really? Of all people, why does it have to be that punk? Do you even know the real personality of that man? He is a total jerk,” Matthew said. That made me think deeply. He spoke as if he knew John so well.
Why do we even have to talk about John?
“That’s why I told you I don’t like him anymore,” I responded. “Excuse me, I’m just going to the restroom,” I added before standing up and leaving the table.
I could not stand the conversation anymore. That’s why I had to excuse myself for a while. When I entered the restroom, I stared at my reflection in the mirror.
“Why did I start to like him again? I was so stupid. Matthew is right. That man is a jerk,” I told myself. I did not seem like a crazy person because there was no one else here in the lady’s restroom aside from me.
I combed my hair using my fingers and then decided to walk out of the restroom. But as I was letting myself be eaten by my thoughts again while taking steps and not focusing on where I was heading, I happened to bump into someone once again. And just like what had happened earlier, I fell sitting on the floor because of the impact.
“Is it you again?” the familiar voice asked before clicking his tongue. “Why do you always bump into me? You’re such a clumsy girl,” he said while fixing his clothes.
What did he just say to me?
I stood up and brushed off the dust from my uniform before confronting him, “Do you think I wanted any of this to happen? Stop acting like you’re a perfect person here!” I shouted in his face, leaving him dumbfounded.
“Whatever,” he muttered as I turned to walk away and rejoin my friends. I ignored him, not wanting to cause a scene.
“Hey, Yana. What happened? We heard you shouting,” Matthew asked as I sat back down beside him.
“It was nothing. Let’s just forget about it,” I replied.
The school was finally over, and I was walking alone along the streets to go home. Both Matthew and Shane had their own matters, so we did not go together today. On the spur of the moment, I noticed John crossing the road. He was wearing his headphones, and as usual, his demeanor seemed icy.
I got to see that a speeding car was coming, beeping so loudly, but John seemed not to hear it because of his headphones. I quickly ran to pull him to safety, but I realized that I had used too much force, and we both fell. I fell to the ground, and he landed on top of me. Fortunately, he caught my head, so it did not hit the ground.
We were both just staring at each other, surprised by what had just happened. His face got too close to mine, which made me forget how to breathe properly all of a sudden.
“J-John,” I began to speak, feeling really awkward. People were starting to look at us.
He stood up, and I sat up from lying on the ground. When I was about to stand up… “AHH!” I accidentally lost my balance and fell once again, but John was quick to catch me again.
I couldn’t stand up straight because I had misstepped my foot. My eyes traveled from looking at my stinging foot to meeting the eyes of the man holding me. Here goes this abnormal heartbeat again.
“Are you alright?” he asked with concern obvious in his tone. He removed his headphones and left them hanging around his neck.
I looked down at my foot, trying to see if I could stand back up, but as I put my weight on it, it began to hurt even more. “No, I guess I’m not,” I responded.
“Do you need to go to the hospital?” he asked further. Seriously, his concern is giving me butterflies. I might have to go to the hospital, not because of the sprain on my foot but because I have been having a hard time breathing.
“No, I think I just need to go home and rest,” I said. He then lifted me like a bride without any hesitation.
“H-Hey, what are you doing?” I asked while in his arms.
“Where do you live? I am going to take you home,” he said, his voice sounding both cold and warm at the same time. Warm enough to make my face turn red.
I couldn’t resist his offer since I knew I wouldn’t be able to make it home by myself. So I told him where I lived. When we finally reached my house, Dad was the one who opened the gate for us.
“Yana?” Dad immediately ran over as soon as he saw me. “What happened to her?” he asked John. I felt my cheeks getting hotter because Dad saw me in a man’s arms.
“She misstepped her foot. She can’t walk or stand, so I brought her home,” John responded courteously.
“Oh, thank you so much,” Dad said, bowing to show his gratitude before taking me from John’s arms.
John bowed as well before starting to walk away. Dad and I went into the house, and he put me down on the sofa.
“Honey, you should be more careful next time,” Dad said, grabbing some ice from the freezer. “Is he your boyfriend?” His concerned face suddenly turned silly as he asked with a laugh, patting my foot with ice.
“Dad, stop it. He’s just a schoolmate,” I responded, lightly pinching my dad’s cheek.
He and I were very close since we were the only family left. My mom died in an accident a decade ago, so it was just him and me. We had each other’s backs, and I didn’t know what I would do without him.
“Dad, my birthday is coming up. I do not wish for anything, but I just want us to stay together no matter what,” I said. Dad froze and looked at me with wide eyes.
“Dad? What’s the matter?” I asked, cupping his face.
“The deal…” Dad replied shortly.
“Deal? What do you mean? What deal?” I asked, confused by what he was saying.
“Nothing. Just forget about it,” he said, shaking his head. “What I mean is that time really flies so fast. You’re turning twenty; you’re not my baby anymore.” He patted my head as a tear fell from his eye.
I quickly wiped it away and hugged him tightly. “No, Dad. No matter how old I get, I’ll always be your baby.” Then I patted his back.