Back in Santa Barbara - Seven


A sunny, yet cold morning greeted us on the feast of Santa Barbara, despite a forecasted typhoon to arrive tomorrow. Everyone was in holiday mood nevertheless. Chris and I didn't even get the chance to have breakfast together as a phone call disturbed my deep slumber - it was Richard telling me to come to the site right away. I realized I forgot to set my alarm clock this morning. I was cursing my way to the bathroom and quickly took a bath. I was at the door when Chris came out of his room, still half asleep. He greeted me a good morning and asked where and when we shall meet today. Lucky him, he didn't need to go to work. "I am not sure if I have the time during the day. Perhaps by 4 pm, when I hope everything's settled?" I checked myself one last time in the mirror and ran out of the house. 
"Alright. I'll be there," Chris confirmed following me to the garage. "Don't I get a goodbye kiss?" He was teasing me as he leaned on the wall of the garage, crossed arms, while I was starting the ignition. 
I looked at him and grinned, "The kiss shall wait today in the plaza, under the Christmas tree." 

As what was expected, last minute issues appeared. One of the issues was Luke getting sick thus he won’t be able to show up. He needed someone to pick up the paintings from his house and bring them to the tent. He got himself an assistant, who I also needed to brief. Then, there was also the delay of the receipt printing. I needed to stand by at the print shop until 10 am, then distribute it to the artists selling their crafts that day. I was already exhausted at 10:30, the mass just finished, and people started filling the bazaars. The artists were overwhelmed that their products were sold out by lunch time. 

Ninong looked impressed as he walked around the tents. There was a handful of people from the media following him around. He boasted that Santa Barbara is a place where the best artists are. The mayor was looking for me, the chief organizer of the bazaar, but I stay hidden inside an empty tent where Lucas' assistant left me. I don't think I would want to be in the limelight yet. It would be too early to praise me either. There are more happenings tonight. Instead, he managed to grab Richard who happily obliged to answer the interviewer's questions. "The event was such a success that it had attracted foreigners to your town. Imagine, a thousand tourists in such a small town with only a few inns. What is the town's plans for Christmas? Can you see a growth in the tourism industry of your town which get often overlooked?" 
"The success of this event was because of team work. We have carefully looked at the strengths of Santa Barbara and carefully laid out the plan. Santa Barbara is rich in culture and history, and more people should visit. I don't want to be a spoil-" 

I was watching the interview intently in a tiny hole, as I was excited to know what people thought of it. Feedbacks are crucial so that we'll know where to improve next time. I suddenly felt a pair of strong arms grabbing my hips inside the tent. It was too fast, and I was in shocked that I felt the lips before I even realized it was Chris! I almost screamed. His mouth swallowed mine solemnly, as he carefully laid me to the ground. I tried to push him away, but he was too heavy. His lips were the opposite of his strength. His lips were rough, almost begging, almost insatiable. His kiss went to my neck, and he became vulnerable. I succeed in shoving him away. "Stop it. People will see us." I stood up and fixed myself. "You're crazy! I don't want my face to be in a newspaper with a scandalous headline!" He grinned at me as if I was joking. "Don't you ever do that again. I told you to wait under the Christmas tree." 
"This tent is under the Christmas tree, and I thought you were waiting for me." He snickered as if it was all a joke. 
"But that was such a kiss!" 
"What's wrong with my kiss?" 
"That kiss, I don't think I will be able to recover," I teased him back. 
"You don't need to recover from that." I pulled him out of the tent before anything else happen. 
"I'm starving. Let's grab some lunch." 

A few days later, I was directing the movers to bring the new furniture to our living room when I received an unexpected call. It was Carlotta. "Hi, Carlotta, long time, no talk! How are you?" I haven’t thought of her for a while. 
"Same old, same old." I didn't know what she meant. During my time in Spring City, I have only sat and chatted with her twice. And every time she talks, strange things always happen. She cleared her throat. "Hey, listen. How’s Chris coping up without his powers?" 
"Fine, I guess?" I didn't know how to answer her. 
"He has been an engkanto for decades, perhaps a century. You don't expect him to be fine. There are hangovers, Felicia. He may look okay, but you must see through him." I tried to think of an instance when Chris could have regretted his decision to give up everything just to be with me. All his actions supported the claim that he was okay. My throat started to ache. 
“What’s going on? Is there anything I should know?” 
"Felicia, I'm sorry for calling you out of the blue. I'm bothered with Chris." Her voice sounded husky and serious. "Perhaps you can help him. Do you know that Chris still has a chance to go back to his original form as an engkanto.” 
“What do you mean? I thought Queen Zena had made him a human forever.” 
“She did. However, we can still reverse the spell until the 50th day. Chris can choose to come back to his world and become an engkanto on December 20 if my math is correct. After the 50th day, he will not be able to anymore. I am sure Chris knows this. He had made a big decision, a decision that changed his whole life and being. Imagine a vampire sacrificing immortality. An engkanto is an engkanto for a reason. Chris being a human does not guarantee that he'll stay with you forever. Human beings die, and I don’t think that has sunk into his mind yet.”

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