After having breakfast, they were now seated at the sofa by the living room where a giant Christmas tree was standing. Adorned with decorations, the tree had many gifts underneath. Amor noticed it.
“You have many gifts pero tatlo lang kayo dito sa bahay?”
He was about to say something when suddenly a little girl came running towards him. A nanny was trailing behind her.
“Oh Abby! Daddy missed you so much. Merry Christmas my princess.”
Abby was embracing his neck tightly. It was obvious that she missed her dad.
“Leah kayo lang ba?”
“Opo Sir. Hinatid lang kami ni Mang Lem. Idinaan muna namin sina Ma’m sa airport. Magbabakasyon po sa Singapore.”
“Ah o sige ako ng bahala kay Abby. Ayusin mo na muna yun mga gamit nya tapos kumain ka na muna.”
“Opo Sir. Merry Christmas po.” She also nodded to acknowledge Amor who was just observing them.
“Merry Christmas Leah.”
As soon as the nanny left, Carlo tried to put Abby down but the little girl all the more clinged to him.
“Abby greet daddy’s friend Merry Christmas.” He told his daughter.
Abby shyly smiled at Amor and in a very small voice she greeted her dad’s friend.
“Merry Christmas po.” The she again hid her face in her daddy’s neck.
Amor sensed that the little girl may have been uncomfortable with a new visitor.
“Carlo I guess I better get going. I’ll just hail a cab back to the hotel to get my luggage.”
“Do you have to go somewhere else? It’s Christmas Amor. Would it be too much to ask for you to stay for awhile?”
“No I don’t need to go somewhere else. It’s just that you might need to bond with your daughter.”
“Ah hindi naman! Abby is usually quiet but she could be talkative once she warms up to you. Pagod lang to sa byahe. They live in Antipolo. Please stay Amor. The house would be merrier with you.”
“Okay then, Mr. Santa.” She smiled.
Then Amor went behind Carlo to face Abby whose face was still hidden near his daddy’s neck.
“Abby, I’m sure you want to open your Christmas presents. Would you love to do that now? Daddy has lots of gifts for you.”
The little girl beamed and asked to be put down.
Amor felt her heart constrict watching the little girl.
Her daughter was the same age of Abby when she left her.
Abby was busy playing with her new toys and Leah was now watching over her.
Carlo led Amor to their veranda. He asked Sabel to prepare coffee for them.
They were seated facing each other that Carlo noticed the sad look on Amor’s face.
“Is there something wrong?”
“Ah nothing. I just remembered my daughter in Abby. They are of the same age when I left her.”
“So where is she now? Is she grown up already?”
“She’s in her teens now.”
“She probably grew up as pretty as you.” Carlo smiled at her. He finds her very lovely indeed.
Amor gave him a sad smile.
“She’s no longer around. She died during the earthquake in our province years ago.”
“Oh I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean to…”
“It’s okay Carlo. Don’t worry. I appreciate that I get to talk about it with someone.”
But despite her assurance that she’s okay, Carlo could see her sadness so he veered away from the topic.
“So what are you doing in the hotel by yourself on Christmas eve, Amor? It is very dangerous. You should have someone with you.”
She shyly smiled, embarrassed at what he might have witnessed last night. She had been drinking and dancing provocatively. She was wild by her standards last night.
“Ah I also couldn’t understand what got into me. Maybe I just wanted to be carefree even for just a night. I thought Manila was safer than the States.”
“There’s no safe place anymore. And people can’t be trusted. You should be careful next time or at least have someone with you.”
“There’s still a safe place Carlo and definitely there are still people I can trust.”
He raised his eyebrow as if to contradict what she said.
“Dito sa bahay mo. I’m safe here. And you can definitely be trusted. Thank you ha. Thank you talaga.”
“Maswerte ka I was there at mabait ako. Pano yun kung ibang tao yun nakakita sayo?”
“Nothing happened and I even got to meet you so maganda pa nga yun nangyari.” She tried to joke.
“I’m serious Amor. You shouldn’t go drinking at bars alone.”
“Yes Carlo. Alam ko naman yun. I really don’t do it. It’s my first time to drink. I thought kaya ko. Actually I can hold my alcohol kung walang inilagay sa drink ko kagabi.”
“Don’t take chances. It’s best if you don’t drink when you’re alone.”
“Yes. I now believe so.”
They continued talking about his business and hers. They were too careful not to delve on their personal lives.
Amor found out that Carlo owns a chain of hotels all over the country.
On the other hand, he learned that Amor is based in the US and was here for just a brief visit.
After a few more hours of talking about various topics ranging from business, pets, politics and even movies and music, Amor got a call from her Secretary saying that they were near the area and about to fetch her. With Carlo’s directions they were able to find his place.
Roma Christie together with the driver dropped by the hotel to get Amor’s luggage first before proceeding to Carlo’s place.
They were now waiting for her at the car.
“Thank you very much Carlo. It was a very memorable Christmas celebrating it with you.”
“Can we see each other when you’re no longer busy? Maybe before the year ends?”
“I would love to Carlo but my schedule is really hectic. I have many very important matters to attend to before I go back to the States.”
“Can I at least invite you to dinner Amor? Tonight perhaps? It’s Christmas anyway.” He was hopeful that she would agree.
“I’m really sorry but I have to decline Carlo.”
“How about giving me your number? Or address? I really want to get to know you more.”
“I don’t think it would work Carlo. I don’t want getting attached to anyone and just leave them behind. I’m not so fond of long distance friendships.”
He got what she meant and relented.
“Okay then. Anyway this was by far a very interesting Christmas for me Amor. Enjoy the holidays and enjoy your stay in the Philippines.” He gave her his lopsided smile.
She coyly smiled at him that he wasn’t able to control himself. He gave her a lingering kiss on both her cheeks and gave her a hug.
She was caught off guard with his action and she just tapped his back to remind him that the hug was longer than necessary.
They disengaged and gave each other a warm smile again.
Then Amor proceeded to her waiting car and left.
Preview to the next chapter.
Liza did you get the information I need?”
“Sir I checked her given address at the hotel registry but it doesn’t exist. Even her phone number is unregistered.”
He was frustrated.
He wanted to see Amor again.