Apr 10, 2013

When the Fireworks Begin (Chapter XVII)

James hasn't died yet but he already knows how hell feels like.  He has been living his hell in the past few days.

James was trying to direct his attention on papers and reports cluttering his desk. A financial report was due tomorrow, but he was nowhere done with the report’s first paragraph and he has been writing for the entire morning.  James leaned back on his chair and raked his fingers through his hair. He looked over at his cluttered desk and saw a beautiful lady smiling at her.  It was Devon’s picture and it has been a while since he has last seen that smile.

He rubbed his forehead and tried to remember when his hell started.  It has been after the family dinner. Everything went smoothly during that night, James could not put a finger on what went wrong.  Right after dinner, Devon has been avoiding him. Trying to ditch all his efforts to take her out, talk to her, and was even able to avoid seeing him at her house.

James has talked to her over the phone but she kept the conversations short, telling him that she’s busy or in the middle of something that can’t be interrupted.  James tried to visit him at her work, but officemates were unable to identify where she has gone.  When he visited her at home, it’s whether she was already asleep or not yet in.  It has been like that in the past couple of weeks.   Two weeks of hell and he has no idea why things are happening as they are now.

James closed his eyes and maybe, when he opened them things would be different.  He heard somebody came into in, softly closing the door.  James opened his eyes and saw the most refreshing sight in hell.

“Hi,” James smiled instantly, standing up to meet Devon.

Devon made a small wave.  “Hi.”

“Where have you been?” James asked.  “I have been thinking you’re avoiding me these past few days.” He walked towards Devon, about to pull her into his arms.  But Devon distanced herself and bowed her head.

“I was,” Devon mumbled.

“What?” James asked, looking a bit lost.

“I was really avoiding you,” Devon explained.  She looked out in the window and bit her lower lip.  She has dark circles under her eyes, showing lack of sleep. Her eyes were also a bit puffed, showing that she has been crying lately. 

“What’s wrong?” James asked. “Did I do something wrong?”

Devon shook and bowed her head.  James held Devon’s shoulder and turned her towards him.  He tried to catch her eyes. 

“This, everything is wrong,” Devon whispered. 

“What are you talking about?” James can’t figure out what he was saying.

Devon took a deep breath and looked at James, trying hard to overcome the tears and the tremors in her voice. “We’re over, James,”  Devon bravely trying to meet his eyes.

James looked at Devon at felt that everything was just a big joke.  “Are you kidding me? What’s happening, Devon? I don’t understand what’s happening.”

“There’s nothing difficult to understand, James,” Devon tried to keep her explanation short.  “We just live in two different worlds.  Being together will just hurt more people.” 

Devon was about to turn around and leave when James stopped her.

“Who are we hurting?” James tried. “Damn it, Devon, talk to me.”

Devon could not stop the tears now.  “Don’t you see, James? We will just end up hurt in the end.  This will not work out, we might as well end it now.”

“What are you talking about,” James vented out. Anger, frustration building up in his voice. “Just two weeks ago, everything was fine. And then you suddenly started avoiding me and now you’re telling me, we’re over?”

“Yes, I am,” Devon felt that all her strength and resolve has suddenly left her.  She must leave the office.  She pulled her arm out of James’ grip and started towards the door.

“I am sorry, James, but trust me,” Devon began.  “This is how it should be.”  With that, she silently closed the door behind her.

James fell into the nearest chair, crumbled.  He felt that everything is crumbling around him. He felt something tearing inside his chest, and in that moment,  his vision began to blur. He started to cry.  He has gone deeper into hell.


Devon refused to eat, even if it her mother placed her favourite adobo in front of her. Aling Linda looked at her daughter, Devon has lost a lot of weight in the last two weeks.  Sometimes during the night, she would hear Devon quietly walking around the house, turning on the TV, flipping through old magazines and books, or just tossing on her bed.  Nights also seem to be sleepless for her daughter. 

“You should eat,” Aling Linda softly said to Devon.  “We all need our strength in dealing with our problems.”

Mang Tony looked at his daughter.  He looked at his wife and wondered, would life be different if he was not born this poor. “We are sorry, anak.  You have to pay for our mistakes. We promise that we will try our best to pay our debts in the bank, and maybe we can bring back what is lost.”

Devon’s two younger sisters looked at each other.  “Ate, we told Inay that we can stop this semester.  We can get full-time shifts and work until the loan is fully-paid. Then we can go...,” Dianne explained.

Devon waved her hand, cutting her sister.  “Nobody’s working full-time, aside from me. You can still stick with your part-time jobs since they fit your student schedule perfectly.” 

“But Ate...” Danica tries to object.

“It’s okay. We have already made an agreement, they are not touching the house given that I do what I have to do. And I already did,” Devon stated.  “I will be fine.  Broken hearts mend, you know that,” bravely putting on a fake smile on her lips. 

“So how’s school?”  Devon asked her sisters, trying to change the topic but nobody can change what’s running through her mind. The scene that happened two weeks ago, remain fresh as if it just happened earlier.

Two weeks ago.

It was just a couple of days after the dreadful dinner in the Rocafort’s Resorts.  James kissing Aleli still lingers in Devon’s mind. Everytime she closed her eyes, she would both of them kissing.  She should have confronted James but she can’t.  She does not want to ask James if he still has feelings for Aleli.

What if he says he still loves her, Devon closed her eyes on the sudden pain in her chest.  But what if he says he doesn’t, nagged her conscience.  She opened her eyes, and remembered the kiss again. They look so good together, Devon painfully thought.

A sudden screech in front of their house brought Devon back from her reverie.  It was early evening.

Aling Linda peered from the kitchen and called at Mang Tony who’s bringing in a pail of water into the house.  “Are you expecting anybody?”

“No, visitors tonight. Unless, James will be dropping by for dinner,” Mang Tony answered.

Devon’s two sisters are still in the local mall for their part-time job.  Sharp knocks rattled their door.  Devon stood up and opened it, taken aback. 

“Mr. Rocafort,” Devon said, shocked. 

“Good evening,”  Mr. Rocafort answered coldly.  Without any invitation, he stepped into the warm Serrano home, followed by a bunch of men in suits who appeared to be his security.  Aling Linda emerged from the kitchen, followed by Mang Tony, curious of their visitor.

“Devon,” Mang Tony asked, eyeing the man in a sharp suit standing in his small living room surrounded by four men dressed in white collared shirts.

“Inay, Itay,” Devon slowly found her voice. “This is Mr. Rocafort, James’s father.”

Aling Linda smiled warmly and brought her hand forward. “Nice meeting you, Sir. Your son, James visits us often.”

Mr. Rocafort looked at Aling Linda’s hand, refusing to shake it. Instead, he turned around and looked at the wall displaying Devon and her sisters’ achievements and medals.

Aling Linda took her hand back and wiped at her apron, trying to appear unshaken by the evident dislike of Mr. Rocafort.

“I’m here on business,” Mr. Rocafort said, while looking at the wall. It is obvious that the Serrano children are smart, but not smart enough, Mr. Rocafort whispered to himself.

Devon looked at Mr. Rocafort, obviously puzzled. 

“It has come to my attention, that you parents owe me significant amount of money,” Mr. Rocafort slowly stated. 

Aling Linda and Mang Tony looked at each other.  They haven’t seen the man, how can it be possible that they owe him money.  Devon looked at her parents and noticed how confused they were.

“What do you mean, owe you?” Devon asked.

“Well, I own United Bank Corporation and I think that your parents owe the bank,” Mr. Rocafort shortly stated. 

Devon stiffened, she knows about that loan.  Her parents made the loan three years ago to pay her ailing grandmother’s hospital bills.  Devon’s grandmother suffered a severe heart condition and was forced to stay in the hospital for several weeks until her death.  The hospital bill was enormous, but her parents decided to take the risk by making a loan in the local bank with their property and house as the collateral. 

“I was visiting properties given to the bank as collateral, and I was so surprised to when Devon opened the door,” Mr. Rocafort said, feigning surprise.

“Visiting properties?” Mang Tony asked.

Mr. Rocafort nodded.  “Yes. You see, I need to make sure that seized properties by the banks are valuable...”

“Seized properties?” Aling Linda interrupted. “But this property is not seized by the bank.  We may have been a little late with the payments but...”

“How late are you?” Mr. Rocafort asked.

“We missed a couple of months but we have already talked with the bank manager and he assured us that there was no problem as long as we start paying this month,” Mang Tony explained.

“Well, the bank changed their mind,” Mr. Rocafort coldly stated. “Here is your Notice to Vacate, duly signed by the manager.”

Devon looked at the letter Mr. Rocafort is handing her.  She looked at the man wearing an impeccable suit and tie, looking like her James.  They may look alike, but they are completely different.

“This is illegal,” Devon said, finally finding her voice.

“It is legal, Devon,” Mr. Rocafort answered.  He was daring her.  “I never make an illegal move. ”

Until now, Devon hissed inside. This is all unfair.  They are taking our house, her insides screamed.

“You need to leave by tomorrow,” Mr. Rocafort finally stated. “Unless you want the same incident at the vegetable stall in the market to happen again.”

“You!!!” Mang Tony shouted angrily, realizing what he said.  Mang Tony finally figured out that it was Mr. Rocafort behind his unjust eviction in his market stall. He attempted to make a move towards Mr. Rocafort, but Rambo’s lookalikes were faster.  The security blocked Mang Tony and shoved him backwards.  Mang Tony lost his balance and fell on the floor.  Aling Linda let out a cry, scrambling to help his husband on his feet. Mang Tony attempts toward Mr. Rocafort but the security pushed him again, now on the dining table, throwing the plates on the floor.

“Really, Mr. Serrano, I had no idea that this was your house. If I have known...” Mr. Rocafort tried to explain.

“Bullshit!” Devon shouted.

Mr. Rocafort suddenly looked at the fuming Devon in front of her. “You knew that this is our house. You knew about the loan, about our attempts to make other loans. You are even behind my dismissal in my job. Bullshit! You knew!”

A small twitch in Mr. Rocafort’s mouth indicated that Devon was right.  “We can always talk about this,” he remarked.  He signalled his hoard of demons to back away from Mang Tony.

“What do you want,”  Devon angrily answered back.

“You know what I want, Devon,” Mr. Rocafort made a dramatic sigh. “James is the soon-to-be president of my companies and he deserves someone better than a college lecturer.”

Devon curled her hands into a fist.  For my family, she thought. 

“Leave my son alone, and I will leave you alone.  I will even instruct the bank to consider your debt fully-paid and return the title to you,” Mr. Rocafort icily said.

Devon felt something inside her broke. She closed her eyes, wishing that she would not make this difficult decision but she has to.  She opened her eyes, and realized that she is in hell and making an exchange with the devil himself.


Devon snapped out of her thoughts.  She looked over the dinner table, and saw her parents and sisters.   I made the right decision, she convinced herself.  Mr. Rocafort did his side of the agreement.  Her parents visited the bank yesterday and were informed by the manager that their loan is already considered fully-paid.  They went home clutching the land title and promising never to make any transactions with Rocafort-owned banks.

She stood up from the table, announcing, “That was a great dinner, Inay. But I have to get to my room now. I am really tired.”

Aling Linda looked at Devon and her daughter’s plate.  Devon has not touched a single morsel.


A few days after Devon and James’ sad conversation, Devon decided it was time to stop mourning her loss and heartbreak.  She decided to check her students’ test papers in the garden.  While browsing over her students’ handwriting, she heard a car stopping in front of their house.  She glanced toward the gate and briefly smiled.  It was Sam.  Sam has been supportive of her lately, especially after hearing the devastating news about her relationship with James.

Sam waved after getting off the car. He was holding a cake box.  Devon sighed, she has to stop Sam from constantly bringing food.

“Hey,”  Sam greeted and sat beside her, placing the box of cake on the garden table. “Brought some snacks.”

“You have to stop bringing stuff, Sam,” Devon smiled. “You are always welcome in this house even if you don’t bring anything.”

Sam smiled and shrugged. “I like bringing you food. You need to put on weight.”

Devon shook her head and smiled. She bowed her head on the test papers and tried to continue with her checking.

“How are you,” Sam asked.

“Since your text an hour ago, I am fine,” Devon answered. 

Sam took a deep breath, and decided to ask. “I know I promised you that we will never talk about it unless you want to, but I have to ask Devon, why break up with James even if it is making you feel miserable?”

Devon dropped her pen slowly and looked straight ahead.  “We are not meant for each other. It was that simple.”

“How can you say that,” Sam asked.

“I saw how good James and Aleli looked together, and I realized, I would never be her. I cannot be that graceful, with effortless beauty, and that sophisticated. And he needs somebody like that,” Devon explained.  She looked down on her test papers again, indicating the subject is already closed.

Sam took one of the test papers and looked at the answers. He laughed at something and pointed it out to Devon, who in turn, also laughed.  Devon looked at Sam gratefully.

“Thank you,” Devon whispered.

“For what,” Sam casually asked.

“For being here, making me laugh. Making me realize that it is not that bad,” Devon thoughtfully said. “Making me realize that I will be alright.”

“You will be,” Same softly answered.  He took Devon’s hand into his own and squeezed it gently.  “I will be with you in every step of the way, because I love you.”

Devon stiffened, trying to pull her hands away. But Sam held to them tighter.

“I am not rushing you, Devon,” Sam continued. “I will wait patiently, until you’re ready.”

Devon looked at Sam, looking for signs that he is joking. He has been making him laugh in the last few days and this could be one of his tricks. But all that Devon  could see in his eyes were his sincerity.

Both of them failed to notice another car parking in front of Devon’s home, and frustrated man walking towards them.

“Are you in such a hurry to replace me?” James calmly stated, anger seething between his calm lines.

Sam and Devon almost jumped out of their seats.  Devon pulled her hand away from Sam’s.  Sam stood up and met James’ cold stare.

“Sorry for interrupting such a warm and romantic moment, it seems that both of you are professing your love for each other,” James angrily continued. He clenched his hand together, trying to hold himself back. He threw a bouquet of flowers on the table.  “I went here to win you back, but I didn’t realize that I was too late.”

James turned around to walk away. But before leaving, he turned around and delivered his deadly blow.  “My father was right about you.  Perhaps I was just one of your many rich boyfriends. Maybe you are a gold-digger after all.”

Sam took a step forward, but Devon held him back.  James saw Devon touching Sam and left angrily.  His car lurched forward, throwing angry fumes behind.

“You should’ve let him talk to you like that,” Sam protested.

“Let him be. Maybe believing that I was only after his money will make him realize that we are not meant to be,” Devon sighed, a tear rolling down her cheek.  


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