“Where is Mr. Asuncion? Bring me to him!” a loud voice was heard just outside Carlo Asuncion’s office.
Carlo was preparing to leave as it was already 9 in the evening and he needs to tuck his daughter Abby into bed. He never failed doing it as it was one of his ways to bond with his only daughter.
When he and his wife Cecilia got separated, Abby used to have a schedule as to when she’ll be with her dad and when she will be with her mom. It went on for about a year but when Cecilia got a job in Chicago, she left Abby with him. They just visit Cecilia from time to time and the couple remained civil for their daughter’s sake.
Carlo usually reads Abby a story then they talk about the happenings of the day. They would talk about her school, lessons, playmates, teachers. They would also sing some nursery rhymes and just have daddy-daughter fun until she falls asleep.
Since his office was situated at their main hotel which was just a few blocks from his house, he doesn’t have any problem with the traffic and he could easily go to and from the work to his home. He would have lunch and dinner with Abby but he returns and stays until 9 in his office. He sometimes returns when his staff calls him for some emergencies which they fail to handle.
Liza, Carlo’s ever loyal secretary for many years now usually stays until the time her boss leaves the office. It wasn’t a problem for her since she also lives in a nearby condo unit also owned by the Asuncion Chain of Hotels. Liza and her parents had served Carlo’s family for many years. Her parents were the first employees of Carlo’s stepfather , Mr. Arturo Asuncion when he was just starting his hotel business. Together with Carlo’s mother Esmeralda, Arturo managed to expand their business into one of the country’s top chain of hotels, which now also engaged in real estate and building skyscrapers all over the Philippines and with Carlo’s business and management skills and vision, he was able to maintain their position in the business and was even able to expand it. He was a respected Boss and highly admired businessman.
“Wala po yun Boss ko. Umuwi na po sya.” the scared voice of Liza could be heard inside Carlo’s office.
He got alerted and retrieved his caliber 45 weapon which he kept in his vault just behind the bookcase in his office, when his office door was forcibly opened. A masked man with a gun pointed at Liza’s lower back, entered the room.
“Who the hell are you!” Carlo shouted as he was also pointing his weapon at the stranger who didn’t say anything but just stared at him under his masked face.
“Let my secretary go.If it’s me that you want, let her go!”
But the stranger just stared at him as if glued to the floor, the grip to his gun wasn’t as firm either and it took Carlo a few seconds to subdue the man who didn’t even fight back, take his gun and remove his mask.
“Oh my God Sir!” Liza had the shocked expression as she stared at the person who looked exactly like her boss.
Philip Tang just stood there staring at his brother.
Carlo, upon realization that it was his twin whom he brought down to the floor, assisted him to stand up but he maintained the blank expression on his face.
“Liza please leave us alone. Go ahead and tell them to eat ahead of me.”
“Just go Liza!” Carlo had to raise his voice so his secretary would just follow and not ask questions anymore.
The moment Liza left, Carlo shut his office door and locked it. He didn’t need any interruption.
He angrily stared at Philip who just stood staring at him, observing him.
“Why are you here Philip? What are you doing here?!” there was hatred and anger in his tone.
“You…you look great Carlo.”
“I’m sure you didn’t come here to admire my looks Philip Tang!”
“No. I didn’t. I just don’t know where to start. Ahhh…” Philip was overcome with emotions upon seeing he brother he wanted to be with, the brother he’s been longing to see for many years that despite the hatred and anger he could clearly see, Philip just hugged him tightly.
Carlo didn’t react but he didn’t push him away either. He just stood there.
“Let’s cut the crap Philip. My daughter needs me so if you have anything important to say which made you come here….”
“Carlo could you at least calm down. It took me a lot of courage to be here…”
“I could see that. Maybe whatever reason you have is far more important than our own mother!”
“Our mother died Philip and you weren’t even there.”
“Carlo, mom died when we were ten. What was I supposed to do? Visit her on my own? You knew what our father was like.”
“You should have found a way.”
“I did Carlo, I did when I was 16, I tried to find you, I wanted to visit our mother’s grave, I wanted to see my only brother.”
“I saw our mom’s grave. I was able to visit her but when I tried to find you, I realized that you already had a stable and peaceful life with your new father. I saw how he took care of you, gave you a very good education. I saw how happy you were and it comforted me to know that if he took you as his own son, he must have cared for and loved our mother so much. I decided not to show myself to you anymore. You were happy. I didn’t want to disturb your life. I didn’t want to get in the way of things. Dad ordered me to find you but I was certain that you were better and safer without us.”
“How did you know I was happy? How were you so certain that I didn’t want to see you or our dad?”
“You wouldn’t want anything to do with him Carlo. I am sure you won’t.”
“What do you mean?”
“Nothing Carlo. Honestly I feel so unworthy to be given your attention, your time. I wouldn’t be here if it’s just for me or dad…”
“What are you saying? Stopping talking in circles Philip. You’re wasting my time.”
“I’m not here to force you to want me or accept me. It’s too late for that Carlo. I wouldn’t bother you if I had someone else I could entrust my child with.”
“What!!!?? Why me?? Where’s the mother? Or shall I say, who’s the unlucky woman?”
Philip just patiently took all the hurtful words and resentment of his brother. He needs him. His child and the mother of his child needs Carlo.
“The unlucky woman knows you. She speaks highly of you. She thought I was you when we met.”
“What are you saying?”
“Amor Powers is having my baby.”
“You son-of -a…” then Carlo landed a straight punch to Philip’s face which caused the latter to lose his balance.
“Carlo, it is you whom she loves. Amor needs you. We.. we just stayed close to each other for our unborn child but we were never together except for that one night.”
“What makes you think that I’ll just easily carry your responsibility? What makes you think I would want to clean your mess?”
“Amor is not a mess and our child is not either. If I could, I would fight for her..”
“Then why don’t you do it? Why try to pass her on to someone else? I never thought you’re a coward Philip.”
“This is the bravest thing I’ll be doing in my entire life Carlo. Believe me, it is. I’ll bravely face my days without Amor and our child because it is the best thing for them. It is my only way of keeping them safe.”
“I can’t understand you…”
“Please Carlo, just promise me, not as a brother but as the kindhearted, loving, giving person I know you are, please promise me that you’ll take care of them.”
“How sure are you that I could easily take responsibility for them? How sure are you that I’m capable?”
“Because I know that you have a daughter, your wife left for the States, you have a comfortable home, a loyal and very kind staff. Amor and our baby needs that kind of security, normalcy.”
“I’ll walk away. She doesn’t love me anyway and she doesn’t know what I really feel for her. It’s easier that way.”
Carlo is still confused of what his brother Philip was saying but he could see the urgency of his request. Philip wouldn’t beg if it’s not serious.
Philip retrieved an envelope from his jacket.
“Those are the things you need to know – Amor’s address, the baby’s needs everything is taken cared of. You don’t have t worry of anything. Just be by her side Carlo, please….”
Philip’s face of despair and worry moved Carlo to decide right there and then. He didn’t think twice anymore of whether to accept or decline his brother’s life-changing request.
“What if she doesn’t want me there?”
Philip’s relief clearly showed on his face. A small smile emerged as well.
“She wants you more than me. She needs you.”
“I have to leave now. This will be the last time I’m showing myself to you. I wouldn’t bother Amor and our child either. Thank you Carlo.”
Carlo didn’t say more. He just stared back at his brother.
As Philip was about to leave, he got his wallet and retrieved a picture. It was the only picture he has of their mother and his twin brother. The picture was taken in a studio which their mother made as a reason to be able to escape from their father when the twins were young. Ironically the picture was left with Philip but the two important persons with him in the picture had left him.
“This is the only remembrance I had of you and mom. Dad burned all your pictures when you guys left. He didn’t know I had this all these years. Keep it. Maybe remember me with it. I love you brother. Goodbye.”
And without waiting for Carlo to say anything, Philip wore his cap and hurriedly left.
A few minutes after Philip Tang left Carlo Asuncion’s office, gunshots were heard near the hotel.
Carlo closed his eyes as he was trying his best not to cry as he reminisced that encounter with his brother.
He was on his flight back home to the Philippines after he visited China.
“Are you okay?” An old lady maybe in her 70’s who was seated beside Carlo noticed his uneven breathing that she had to ask him.
“Yes. I am. I just remembered my twin brother.”
“Oh! Where is he?is Is he okay?”
At the Qincheng Prison, a maximum security facility located in Changping District, Beijing, China, the leader of the once organized and feared smuggling syndicate was in his quarters reading a very thick book when someone approached him.
In a whisper…
“Carlo Asuncion visited the grave two days ago.”
“It was not his schedule of visit yet. He goes there every 25th of the month. Our men must have been mistaken.”
“There was no mistake. It was confirmed. Our men even took pictures. Do you want them to do something about it?”
“No. Just leave him alone for now.”
“Do you want him monitored? His business seems to be doing well. Do you want our men to check on it?”
“No. I said leave him alone for now. I will give instructions on what to do but now is not the time to do that.
“But I thought we should get back at him for what his father and brother did?”
“Not now. Not yet.”
Han Lee, Robert and Philip Tang’s business rival had everything planned. Someone has to pay for his incarceration and since Robert and Philip are no longer around, the only living Tang had to pay, and that is Carlo Asuncion.
Carlo vowed to honor his promise to his brother’s only love. He would give Amor the family she and Sunshine deserves.
“Carlo, nandun na sa opisina mo yun annulment papers. Have you talked to Cecilia about your decision? ”
“Yes Ryan. Thank you for taking care of it.”
“So final decision mo na yan?”
“Oo na. What about my other request? Yun tungkol kay Amor at Sunshine?”
“May kinausap na ako tungkol doon. They could help us.”
“Thank you Ryan.”
“Mahal mo talaga ang mag-ina ng kapatid mo ah.”
“Yes. But my main reason is to make my brother happy.”
“Wherever he is, I’m sure he is happy Carlo. I’m sure he is.”