Apr 10, 2013

When the Fireworks Begin (Chapter XX)

Two years ago...

Parting ways was never easy.  It seems that James has parted with everyone in this point in his life.  His relationship with his father finally reached its boiling point.  When James found out about his father blackmailing Devon through her family, everything crashed around him.  Knowing his father can cut competition into pieces was different to experiencing at first hand. Now he knows how ruthless he can be even with the people his own family loves.

James relationship with his friend Sam is already on rocky shores.  He has seen and heard how Sam professed his love for Devon.  It seems that Sam is ready to pick up where he left off.  He slammed his hand on his steering wheel hard.

Devon.  He must have her back. He opened the driver’s door and got off the car, kicking and cursing.  How cruel can life be, when the only one thing you wanted so bad is something that you may not get back.

His cellphone rang. Looking at it, he felt no desire to answer the call, but putting if off will only make matters worse.

“Mom,”  James answered, trying to sound callous.

“God, James,” Mrs. Rocafort cried. “Where are you?”

“Around,” James replied quietly. 

After leaving his office, he has been wandering the streets while driving.  His car took him into an isolated road in a hill, probably leading to one of the far-flung barangays.  The hill has a perfect view of the city, with a small grassy park perfect for those who wanted fresh air and quiet.  He parked into a grassy place which seems to be a frequent picnic site during morning and a parking area at night.  There were three concrete tables and chairs, between the two tall trees.  The trees gave two old men shade while they play chess.  Another car was parked on the grassy lawn, two people, lovers probably have opened their doors and were talking and silently laughing. 

Devon would have loved this place, he thought.  The thought of Devon constricted his chest.  His mother’s voice brought him back to reality.

“James, Sam came here looking for you. He told me you were upset,”  Mrs. Rocafort nervously stated.

James snickered.  Upset seems to be a mild word. Knowing his mother, she must have grilled poor Sam to know the details. Serves him right for meddling into his business. His mother may have known everything by now.

“I’m moving out of the condo, Mom,” James replied coolly, making up his mind just now. 

“Why? Where will you stay?” Mrs. Rocafort asked.  “It’s your place, James. You own it.”

“Which Dad paid for,” James argued.  “I’m done, Mom. I am done with everything. I am resigning, I am leaving that condo, and I will start anew.”

“James,” his mother said sadly.

“Bye Mom, I’ll call you,”  James promised sadly.

Mrs. Rocafort looked at the latest cellphone on her hand.  Her husband was able to provide everything that she has wanted. She even received the things that she does not need or cared about.  Her husband made sure that she would be the envy of every housewife in the country.

Now, she felt that a mother living in the slums is more fortunate than her. There are many things that money cannot buy and that includes having a husband that loves her and their children.  But Mrs. Rocafort understands her husband. In his own, twisted way, he has loved his kids and even her.  But today should not be tolerated.

She called her driver and told him that they would be paying his husband a visit in his office.


James has finally gained enough composure to trace his steps back to the city.  The quiet sanctuary provided him enough calmness to face his tumultuous life.  The first thing he did was pack his essentials from his condo. 

He does not want to face Devon like this.  He wants to face her, living his life and not living in his father’s shadow.

He made sure that he packed everything, his books, his clothes, and everything he thought was important. But he made sure that all he packed were the things he knows that he brought with his own money, not things that his father bought for him. It was a difficult decision, after all, his salary came from his father.

After packing, he called his friend who was into car dealership.  He decided to sell his car.  His friend went livid. How can he afford to sell his Porsche? James has brought the car to show his father that he can buy his own luxury car.  The Porsche Cayenne almost wiped his savings, but it was worth it.  Now, James is selling it.

“You have the coolest car in the city and you want to sell it for a low price?” James’s friend shouted.

“Just do this favor for me,” James sighed.  “Sell it for a reasonable price, but low enough so that someone will buy it fast. It is in perfect condition.”

He hung up the phone when his friend agreed to sell it on James’s terms.  James mentally crossed out a task on his list.  He looked around his comfy condo, checking if there was anything left.  He did not feel sentimental about the place.  He just realized that the space was cold and the modern furniture makes everything looks so icy sharp, what would you expect when his father gave it to him. 


Mrs. Rocafort strolled into the building.  The employees bowed their heads in respect, looking discreetly with envy.  She walked as if she was walking on air, she glided across the building with that expensive bag, that could pay the salaries of ten employees, hanging from her arms.  Her suit was crinkle-free, not a hair out of place.  Nobody would realize that Mrs. Rocafort in boiling inside.

Briefly acknowledging her husband’s secretary and declining her offer for coffee, Melinda Rocafort walked into her husband’s office. Walking into the office, she was hoping to see that the powerful Edwin Rocafort will show just a little bit of concern on the turn of recent events but she was disappointed.  Her husband looked unaffected as ever, his table still organized, and his hair showing no signs of dishevelment.

Edwin Rocafort glanced from his papers and saw his beautiful wife standing across the room.

“What a pleasant surprise,” Edwin said, showing not a hint of surprise at all.

“Your life has been full of surprises, today,” Melinda answered, not losing her cool.

Edwin looked at his cool wife.  Already in her early fifties, she still has the elegant air surrounding her. She can put women half her age to shame.

“You may have already known,” Edwin answered.  “I don’t want to explain anymore.”

“Your disgusting ideas have cost me my son,” Melinda accused, her voice quivering a little bit showing her anger and frustration.

“You still have another son and a daughter,” he answered casually.

It hit her hard, Edwin can see that.  He does not give a damn, Melinda shivered. Everything was just a power play with him, even his family was part of his power games.

“I have two sons and a daughter,” Melinda said.  “But now, because of your selfishness and stupidity, my family is breaking apart.”

“It’s my family, too,” Edwin countered.

“We are not your family. For you, we are just one of your pawns. Only to be moved to protect and serve the king,” Melinda answered, seething with anger.  “Families look out for each other. You only look out for yourself.”

Melinda stopped.  This was the first time she said something this hurtful to her husband for the last ten years.  His eyes, showed a bit of sadness and hurt before it was replaced with the cold stare again.

“I came here to see if you will show just a little bit of concern,” Melinda said.  “But all I can see is someone who was just a little bit disappointed that another business transaction did not go right.”

Melinda turned around and was about to leave his office, when Edwin called out.

“Are you leaving, too,” Edwin asked. Melinda thought she heard a little bit of fear in his voice. But when she looked over, she saw her husband’s stoic stare, realizing that she must have imagined it.

“It’s too late for that,” Melinda replied. “I promised myself that I will never leave you, because I love you even if you don’t.”

She left the office without saying another word.  But I love you too, Edwin Rocafort would like to cry out.  I love all of you, he silently screamed. He has the strong urge to run after her, hug her, cry and beg her to help him make things right.  But that is a sign of weakness.  Emotions will just put him in danger. He closed his eyes and balled his fist. This momentary weakness will pass. Once he finished the business deal with a foreign company, his composure will come back and his power will be reaffirmed.


Almost three weeks after moving out of his condo, James finally decided it was time to talk to Devon.  He eased his car into the street across Devon’s home.  His second-hand Toyota was far from the luxurious Porsche, but it was enough.  He has been living in a small studio apartment in the city.  His brother Malcolm helped him during the move.  The space was as big as his storage room in the condo, but it was enough for his belongings.  The rent was cheap. He only takes his car out when it was absolutely necessary, otherwise, he would take the jeep.

The experience is new to him. He has learned how to eat straight from the cans, noodle pouches and cups.  The karinderia across his apartment complex was one of his most favourite eating places.

But the most difficult thing was finding a job.  His father has made it clear that he wants nobody to hire him.  Close family friends of his father were unwilling to let him into their companies even though they know James will be one of their best assets.  But they don’t want to be on the bad side of the Rocafort mogul.

Then James decided to apply for a position where his father’s influence was not that powerful and that is in advertising.  His father built his fortune on factories and manufacturing. He has been slowly venturing into textile and food business, but advertising is something that Mr. Rocafort placed on his list.  James’ sister Jacqueline seems to understand this, which is why she referred him to an agency far from his father’s radar.

When James walked into the advertising film, he knew that this is the job that he wants to be in.  He impressed the interviewer with his credentials, but was slightly taken aback by James’ family ties. 

Word goes around, the interviewer stated. We can’t afford somebody as big as Edwin Rocafort barging into our company.

James nodded. I will make sure that he will not interfere, James promised.

Right after his contract signing, James called his mother.  The only person who hears directly from James, aside from his brother and sister was his mother.  James asked for his mother’s help about keeping his work in the advertising agency a secret.  Melinda Rocafort agreed to make sure that her husband will never know her son’s job.

Only until then did James felt he was ready to face Devon.  Devon was watering the garden in front of their home, a puppy was roaming in their garden as if it owns the place.  Although, Mr. Rocafort never bothered them anymore,  the Serrano family felt that they need something to make them secure. When the neighbor’s dog gave birth, they asked for one of the puppies.  Of course, the puppy was not enough to face Mr. Rocafort’s goons, but it will give them ample warning.

Devon felt lost during the past weeks.  Sam has been dropping by more frequently.  She knows what he feels for her, and she had told him several times that her heart is not ready for any kind of commitment yet.  Sam understood but still he wants to take care of her.  Devon tried her best to dissuade him.  Her heart is not ready for any kind of commitment, her heart is still taken by the Rocafort man who is probably comfortably sitting in his little office overlooking the city landscape.

Devon noticed a dark-green Toyota parked across the street. She blinked her eyes several times when she saw James getting out of the car.  James and common, second-hand cars don’t usually go together, so Devon has to make sure she was awake.

James was wearing a shirt and some old pair of jeans, far from his usual polo and dark slacks.  He made a casual wave toward Devon. Devon decided it was already time to stop watering the plants and go inside, when she heard that voice that she missed so much.  

“Devon, please, can we talk?” James asked.

“There’s nothing to talk about,” Devon answered. James opened the gate and went inside.  The puppy started yelping.  But then, it started to growl in low tones, as if it was being petted. True enough, the puppy was rubbing himself in James’ hands.

Traitor, Devon whispered at the puppy.  Probably sensing her displeasure, the puppy reluctantly pulled away from James and started running towards the back of the house.

“Please, we need to talk,” James pleaded.

Devon looked at him. Something has changed in him and she cannot put a finger on it.

“I know what father did to you,” James said.  “I knew he blackmailed you and your parents. I don’t know the details, but I know how cruel he can be.”

The memory triggered something in Devon, and her eyes started to become misty.  “It is over now. It is better this way.”

She was about to enter the house, when James held her elbow. “No it’s not. We are just hurting ourselves by keeping ourselves apart.”

“You don’t understand James,” Devon cried. “You are better off without me. Look at me, I will never fit into your life.”

“You don’t have to,” James answered. 

“I can never be good enough for you,” Devon whispered, her words emphasized by her tears. 

“Devon,” James started. “I live in a small apartment, my car is second-hand with the airconditioning unusable, my salary in the advertising agency will be enough to cover my monthly expenses, I am doing some side jobs so I can save enough. It is me who may not be good enough for you.”

Devon looked at James slightly taken aback with what he said. “What did you say?”

“I am a penniless Rocafort, Devon,” James replied.  “I was not the same James you met a year ago. I won’t be able to drive you around in the Porsche anymore, because I sold it.  We would have to eat in turo-turo during our dates, we can eat in Jollibee once in a while. But posh restaurants are out, unless it is our anniversary.”

“I don’t understand,” Devon stammered.

“My father disinherited me when I decided that I can’t live without you. I  love you so much, that it hurts to think that I am losing you,” James tried to explain.

Devon held her breath, wishing that this was not just one of her fantasies.

“I love you, Devon,” James continued.  “If  being with you means I have to lose everything, I will.”

Right there and then, Devon cried. It was a mixture of crying, laughing, wailing, and even some bits of curses.  Aling Linda rushed out to see what the commotion was about, the puppy came back in front to see who’s the perpetrator.  Devon threw herself to James, and whispered loving words to his ear between her sobs.

“I don’t want you to give up everything,” Devon said. “I don’t want you to give your family up. Damn you.”

“I am not,” James said. “I did not give them up. I still have my mom, my brother, and my sister. I just chose to make my own family with you, if that is okay with you and your parents, of course.”

And with that, Devon closed her eternal promise of love to James with a kiss. In the street corner, a pair of sad eyes watched as the couple kissed and hugged.  But the heart mends, Sam reminded himself.  He will be alright. He turned around and walked away. 


Anonymous said...

like your story....can't wait for the next chapter.

Anonymous said...

awww.. super thanks ate bite for this updates.. walang kupas! lalo ko tuloy na-miss ang jaevon.. :(


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