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1. The Bitch in Giuseppe Zanotti's Heels

CHAPTER ONE

I’m a queen and people who will say the opposite may face my Giuseppe Zanotti’s heels.

“I said no sugar,” I looked at my assistant, well, my new assistant since the last one resigned after a week of working with me. Hawak n’ya ang tasa ng kape ko. She made me my coffee that morning, possibly the last coffee she’ll ever make for me. Namutla s’ya. “For a fresh graduate with bragging credentials, you’re dumb. How can you not follow a simple instruction?”

Itinapon ko ang kape sa harapan n’ya. She has to clean it. I told specifically to my previous assistants that I liked my coffee with no sugar. No questions asked, they just have to obey. Pakialam ba ng ibang tao if I prefer my coffee like that. I shook my head, one thing I hate is to repeat everything I say.

Dapat hindi slow ang nakapaligid sa’kin. In this world full of rushing people, why would you want to be the slow one? If you are, mauubusan ka ng opportunities. And no hon, opportunities won’t be knocking on your door, you have to work for it. Kung kailangan mong makipagbalyahan, why not?

“I’m sorry, Miss Sy. Igagawa ko na lang po kayo ng bago,” kinuha n’ya ang tasa sa na nakalagay sa desk ko.

“Are you sure? Won’t you like packing your things now? You weren’t ready to work for me.”

Umayos ako nang upo. I straightened my back and went back to what I was doing before she came in, creating designs for my clients. I didn’t hear sound of heels going out of my office, muli akong tumingin sa assistant ko na nakatayo pa rin sa harapan ko. Her eyes were full of tears. Nakakuyom ang kamao n’ya. Tinaasan ko s’ya ng kilay.

“What is it, Miss Magbiray?” I asked.

I like addressing people with their surnames, it’s very formal. No intimacy. No attachment.

“I will resign!” she shouted. “You’re a horrible person! I can’t even stand being with the same room with you. You’re horrible that nobody wants to be your friend!” she cried some more. I smiled, this is my kind of entertainment. I’m enjoying this stuff. I love how people hate me. Imagine they hate me tapos wala naman akong pakialam?

“Okay, you do it. But didn’t I fire you earlier?” tinapunan n’ya ako nang masamang tingin. “You can’t resign, dear since before you even do such thing, you are already unemployed. Now, do me a favor and pack your things. I don’t want to see your face ever again. You are incompetent and I’ll make sure your new boss will know that.”

She walked out. Napailing ako. Kung hindi s’ya makakatagal sa’kin, how could she survive in this world? She has guts, wala nga lang common sense. She’s still trapped in an illusion that the world is a fairytale, when in fact it is not. The truth is there are more vile, evil creatures and witches than kind-hearted princesses much wicked than I am. I even doubt if there is really a kind-hearted one, dahil sa panahon ngayon, there’s no such thing as pure kindness. Everyone has flaws.

I called Justise Archimedes to bother her and find me a new assistant. I don’t know how she’ll doit, hindi naman s’ya agency pero wala akong pakialam.

I shook my head. What a start of the day. Sometimes,petty fights are exciting and most of the time, they bore me. And when it bores me, kailangan kong ma-entertain. I would like to see some action, iyong sampalan ng heels.

I had calls and since wala akong assistant, I have to answer those people who were asking for the same things over and over again. My patience weren’t as long as Rapunzel’s hair. Good thing, I got big clients coming up.

Ako rin ang nagsara ng boutique ko. It was supposed to be a job for my assistant, isa iyon sa trabaho nila, pero unemployed na s’ya. Hindi ko inaasa ang gawaing iyon sa manager or even sa mga sales attendants.

I received a call from Richard Sy that evening telling me to go to his mansion and have dinner with him. I said yes. I have nothing else to do, isa pa, minsan lang n’ya akong maalala.

I drove my purple Cadillac Sedan --- I like purple and violet colors, it screams royalty. I am one. Not by blood, but by my mindset, I’m a queen and I reign.

Pinagbuksan ako ng gate ni Manang Lukreng, ang mayordoma ng mansyon. She’s the oldest employee in the household. Mas matanda pa s’ya kay daddy at s’ya ang nag-alaga sa’kin noon but up to this day, malakas pa rin ang pangangatawan n’ya. She’s one of the people I truly respected.

Sinalubong n’ya ako nang yakap nang bumaba ako sa kotse ko. I hugged her back. “I missed you, Manang,” I smiled at her.

“Sana ol nami-miss,” she replied and giggled. I rolled my eyes. Matanda na s’ya, nakikiuso pa sa mga katangahang taglay ng panahon ngayon.

I looked at the two-storey mansion my dad owned. It was enormous. Napaka-liwanag ng buong kabahayan. We have the wealth. Hindi man kami old money, but dad made sure I had a comfortable lifestyle. Mayaman kami sa pagsusumikap ni daddy and well, there’s always a catch. Pretty much everything has a catch. In our case, his hardwork costs our bond as family.

Sabay kaming naglakad papasok ng mansyon. Naka-abrisyete s’ya sa’kin. We went straight to the dining area since andoon na raw si daddy. Si Manang Lukreng naman ay nagpaalam sa’kin upang pumunta ng kusina. I let her.

She was right. Dad was there. Nakaupo s’ya sa dulong bahagi ng mesa. It has always been like that. Since he’s the foundation and head of the family, he gets to sit on the end of the table.

“Dad,” agaw ko sa atensyon n’ya. He looked at me. Tinanguan n’ya ako.

“You’re here,”

He gestured me to take a seat and I obeyed.

Nagsimula nang maghain ang mga kasambahay. They all greeted me with respect. Honestly, I have more respect to them than my colleagues.

“Pa, I made you your favorite,” napatingin ako sa direksyon na pinanggalingan ng boses. “R-reign...” she uttered my name.

Agad na nagbago ang ihip ng hangin nang makita ko si Rainbow. Mukhang galing s’ya sa kusina. She’s wearing an apron pa at hawak n’ya iyong niluto n’ya.

I should have known. I wouldn’t be invited here if there is no Rainbow. Oh, poor shit.

“Andito ka na pala R-reign,” she said again. Mahina ang boses n’ya. Marahan n’yang inilapag ang dala n’ya sa mesa.

I raised a brow. “No, Rainbow, it’s just a statue that can move and talk.” Inirapan ko s’ya.

“Let’s eat,” deklara ni daddy. I don’t know if he could slice the tension. “Take a seat Rainbow,”

Rainbow gulped hard. Naupo s’ya sa harapan ko. Mukhang wala namang alam si daddy sa nangyayari. Tahimik ang hapagkainan. Panaka-naka silang nag-uusap na dalawa tungkol sa negosyo at sa pinaggagawa ni Rainbow sa buhay, hindi ako sumasabat. I’m just enduring everything until it ends.

“That’s very good, Rainbow. You’re doing a great job in that field. Sa susunod, you’ll be known internationally anak,” rinig kong komento ni daddy. Si Rainbow naman ay ngumiti lang na parang nahihiya. Mas lalong nag-init ang ulo ko sa kanya. Marahas kong naibaba ang utensils na hawak ko.

Bumaling ang tingin sa’kin ni daddy. “Tapos ka na bang kumain Reign? Hindi kita tinuruang magdabog sa hapag,”

“I’m not. They slipped.” pangangatwiran ko. Tiningnan ko ang kutsara’t tinidor. I shook my head. Sinamaan ko nang tingin si Rainbow but she wasn’t looking at me. Bumalik ako sa paglalaro ng pagkain. This is the boring dinner I had in my entire life. Boring na nga, hindi pa ako busog.

“Successful po iyong exhibit ko. They find it interesting and it wasn’t just pleasant to the eye but it held deeper meaning. I had buyers. Natutuwa po talaga ako. Sa susunod, I wanted to go to Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, kapag nakaipon na ako. They really fascinated me.” kwento pa n’ya.

“I can lend you money,” dad suggested.

“Hindi na p ---”

“Maybe, you should show some tits, para naman mabili lahat ng paintings mo at may pang-travel ka abroad,” I commented. Hindi na ako nakatiis.

Napanganga s’ya sa sinabi ko.

“Reign!”

“Dad,” I rolled my eyes.

“Reign, I didn’t raise you to be like that! Minsan na nga lang kayo magkita ni Rainbow, ganyan pa ang trato mo sa kanya. That’s not nice to say to her! At lalong lalo na, nasa harap ka ng pagkain.” may pagtitimpi s’ya sa boses n’ya. “Have you heard Rainbow’s accomplishments? She’s really a good painter,” saad pa ni daddy.

Muli kong nabitawan ang utensils na hawak ko. I looked at them. I could see his eyes twinkling with so much delight. Mukhang proud na proud s’ya kay Rainbow pero nang tingnan n’ya ako, I met his glaring eyes. Sumidhi ang inis na nararamdaman ko.

She’s a painter, I’m a designer.

“I’m rude but I don’t wanna bitch out on you, dad. I’m not deaf, though seriously speaking, wala akong pakialam sa accomplishments n’ya o sa ginagawa n’ya sa buhay because mine is so much better. I’d probably google my care and go back here if I find it out. Have a good night!” mabilis pa sa alas kwatrong tumayo ako at lumabas ng dining area. Narinig ko pang tinawag n’ya ako pero hindi ako lumingon. I don’t want to have any confrontation with him. I went to my old room. Tinatamad akong mag-drive pauwi ng unit ko. I just want to rest.

I always hated that girl. We almost had a same name. Halos magkatunog. I curse people who calls her Rain. Hindi ko alam kung saan s’ya napulot ni daddy pero dinala na lang s’ya sa mansyon isang araw. Mukha s’yang sakitin. She’s a weakling. And ever since that day, mas lalong nawala ang atensyon sa’kin ng ama ko. It’s always Rainbow the attention-seeking bitch. And I don’t care. Matagal na akong nawalan ng amor. I was even thinking, maybe they have a relationship more than what they are trying to portray. It could be. Like yuck!

Nadatnan ko pa rin ang mukha ni Rainbow sa hapagkainan kinabukasan ng magang iyon. She’s having her breakfast or whatsoever. Binati n’ya ako. Inirapan ko s’ya. Manang Lukreng prepared my coffee. Alam n’ya kasi ang panlasa ko. I don’t eat breakfast, coffee is enough.

“What do you want to eat for breakfast, R-reign? Ipaghahanda kita.” nakangiti n’yang wika. Tumayo s’ya. Ang epal n’ya! She always portray sweet cinnamon roll like fuck, nakakaumay. I’m not even talking to her, why is she talking to me like we’re friends?

Nginisian ko s’ya. “You trying to be a good stepmom?” nakataas ang kilay ko. I pasted a mischievous smile. Naupo ako sa isang stool. Kinuha ko kay manang ang kapeng ginawa n’ya para sa’kin.

Confused s’yang tumingin sa’kin. “Ha?”

Hindi ako umimik. I don’t want to talk to her. She irritates me. I sipped my coffee. Muli s’yang nagsalita. “Hinahanap ka ni daddy madalas. Bakit hindi ka umuuwi rito?”

“Oh, talaga?” wala sa wisyong tanong ko.

“Oo, bukambibig ka n’ya. He was concerned about you. Mabuti naman umu ---”

“Ganoon ba?”

“Reign, anak ka ni daddy, he cares ---”

“I realized I don’t care.” nagkatinginan kami. “Try harder, dear Saint Rainbow.” nang-uuyam kong wika. “If you want to make my day, be out of my sight. I don’t want to see you, nakakasira ka ng araw.”

She looked hurt. I don’t care. I’m very much enjoying the pain she’s feeling. Kulang pa iyon. Mabilis s’yang sumunod sa sinabi ko. I enjoyed my coffee before I went back to work. Hindi ko nakita si daddy ng umagang iyon. I had no idea where he was, hindi ko rin tinanong kay manang.

I got busy the whole week. I had no assistant to work side by side. Wala pa akong nahahanap na bagong assistant at mukhang matatagalan pa iyon. I got a pretty bad records when it comes to employees. As what others would say, people would apply to me when they want to commit a suicide ‘cause I make everyone’s life a living hell. Do I even give a fuck?

Hindi ko namalayan ang oras, I was greeted by darkness when I peeked at the french window in my office. Pre-occupied ako nang ginagawa kong designs. I had to rush. I got invited to New York Fashion Week and I need to present some designs that is relevant to the theme this year. Ilang taong ko ring inasam na makasali sa prestihiyosong fashion show na iyon, ngayon ay abot kamay ko na. I got in. It wasn’t easy, more of a roller-coaster ride but I am here and I am proud.

I went to a bar to celebrate. Justise Archimedes joined me. She kissed my cheek when she saw me and grinned widely. She was wearing a red slutty dress with plunged neckline and high slit, as in very high. Libre iyong pasilip sa legs n’ya.

“Hi Poks. Congrats on your first NYFW! I’m excited talaga,” she giggled. I rolled my eyes. I told her about it, at mukhang mas masaya pa s’ya kaysa sa’kin.

Naupo s’ya sa stool sa tabi ko. I saw her winking at the guy on the right side. Umirap ako sa ere. I just observed the place. We talked a little. She told me about her new lipsticks coming out in the market and that she’s very excited about that too.

We ordered our drinks. The party was just starting. “Fuck! It’s so mapait. What kind of inumin ba is this? It’s lasang lason.” pumailanlang ang nakakairitang boses ni Justise. I told her many times I don’t like her speaking in conyo or whatsoever language is that. It irritates me.

“What you order is what you get, brainless bitch,”

“I’m not kaya! I’m not brainless ‘no!” she defended herself. Maarteng kumawag pa ang kamay n’ya.

“Fine, you got a brain, a dysfunctional one. And stop talking that way, I might slap you hard that you’ll need to have a surgery after,” I said.

Sumimangot s’ya. “You’re so arte, Reign! You’re pokpok naman! And stop blaming me for the way I salita ‘no, blame my parents. They want me to gamit words in Tagalog para makipag-talk and ako na-confuse.”

“Whatever. I should have not let you come,”

“Because mag-friends tayo,” tumawa s’ya. I didn’t say anything. Baka lalong mag-init ang ulo ko sa kanya. Because when I am, I slap really hard. Iyong tipong baka makipagpalit ng mukha sa pwet ng baso ang taong iyon. “Anyways, what kind of party ba ‘to? It’s boring! We should celebrate naman like party to the max! Duh, we are the powerful bitches!”

“What kind of celebration do you want?” angil ko.

She winked at me. Hinila n’ya ako palabas ng bar. Nagpatianod ako sa kanya.

_____

I found myself at the function hall of the Inferium. I’m walking side by side with Justise. There are a lot of socialite people in there, partying. Some people are familiar with their statuses in the society. I don’t know, I have no idea what kind of party this is. We’re like gate-crashing and it gives me excitement. Justise’s party idea is way better than what I expected.

Everyone’s wearing a casual dress and suit. By casual, it means daring. That’s the new meaning to it. Thank heavens, I’m wearing a decent outfit with my Giuseppe Zanotti’s ankle strap snake heels.

It’s the Inferium’s twenty-fifth

anniversary. A servant gave me a glass of wine, habang naglilibot ang mga ito sa buong function hall. Biglang nawala sa paningin ko si Justise. I didn’t know where she went. Ang bilis ng babaeng iyon! There are tables available for the guests but most of them are standing, so I don’t mind walking around. Hinanap ko s’ya.

“Reign Sy, right?” A middle-aged woman asked me.

Awtomatikong napataas ang kilay ko. “Yes?” I looked at the her.

“I’m a fan of your gowns. They are perfect.” she told me.

Ngumisi ako. “I know, right. Thank you,”

That’s another ego booster. Not that I need it. I know how good I am with my craft.

Magsasalita pa sana ito nang may pumuntang lalaki sa stage. I know him. He’s the owner of this hotel. I’ve seen him featured on different magazines as one of the most-sought bachelors, not just in the Philippines but internationally. Isa na iyong For the Woman or FTW mag sa nag-feature sa kanya which featured my gowns as well.

“Greetings and long speeches bore me, folks, plus I have nothing nice to say,” he said, smirking. Everyone laughed. I didn’t. I stood at the side of the function hall. I’m still searching for Justise. I texted her to see me, asap. Nayayamot na naman ako sa kanya. “It’s my pleasure to see you all here, although I’m just seeing a glimpse of your faces.”

Again, they laughed. Puta, ang plastic! I shook my head.

“For a milestone we’ve reached, I offer you more wine tonight. Enjoy while it lasts, I’ll see you around, folks. Thank you for celebrating with us.” he said smugly. Everyone applause and cheered.

Kasabay nang pagbaba n’ya mula sa stage, lumabas ako para hanapin ang restroom. It was easy to find but it was locked. I could hear indecent sounds coming from there. I know what’s happening inside. Kumatok ako ng tatlong beses. The sounds stopped for a minute, when I thought they were already decent. Muli akong nakarinig ng ungol mula sa loob.

Sa inis ko, I knocked again multiple times. Hindi ako tumigil hangga’t mawalan sila nang gana. Cockblocker na whatever, wala akong pakialam. I even kicked the door with my Giuseppe Zanotti’s heels. Sayang iyong heels ko!

“What a cheap fuck! Can’t you afford at least a cheap motel?” I hissed at them.

I left the restroom after that. B’wesit na b’wesit ako. Sakto namang pagkaalis ko roon ay nakita ko si Justise na mayroong kinakaladkad na babae. Hindi matao ang lugar, so no one was watching them but me. Sinundan ko sila. Dinala s’ya ni Justise sa isang hallway. Walang pakalat-kalat na tao that’s why the girl was free to shout. She was banshee screaming. Ang sakit sa tainga. Gusto kong tanggalin ang heels ko at isubo ang heels sa bunganga n’ya.

“Who’s that?” I asked her.

Noon n’ya lang ako napansin at hinarap. “Someone with dirty kiki,” sagot ni Justise, she was smiling evilly.

“Will you please call your vagina the right way?” I rolled my eyes.

“It’s not my puke, it’s hers I’m calling kiki. Kasi she’s so yuck!”

Napailing ako. She’s hopeless.

Ngayon ko nakita ang babae nang malapitan. She’s familiar. If I’m right, she’s a showbiz story-maker. She creates articles that weren’t based on truth. She was exposed pero marami rin s’yang supporters and she has a connection inside the company kaya walang nagbabalak na i-fire s’ya. I just don’t remember her name. Is it Aliz? Alicia?

“Ano ba?! Don’t touch me! Pakawalan n’yo ako! What do you need ba?” pagpupumiglas noong babae.

“What did Alyanna do to you?” tanong ko kay Justise. I crossed my arms. Tinitigan ko s’ya.

“Duh, it’s Ariska, not Alyanna! Oh my gosh! How dare you forget my name!” galit n’yang turan sa’kin. Pinanlisikan n’ya ako ng mata.

“Hon, whatever your name is, you don’t matter. So don’t get too offended. Baka isaksak ko ang heels ko sa bunganga mo.” I told her.

“She tried dragging my name into the dirt. She’s makapal ang face! Dirty naman ang pussy. Suddenly ko lang na-know, she’s a kabit pala. Do you know?” muli s’yang sinabunutan ni Justise. The girl fought violently. Hindi s’ya makatayo. Itinulak s’ya ni Justise sa tiled floor. I was just there, watching.

“You!” she pointed her finger at me. “You!” tinuro n’ya rin si Justise. “I can sue you both for this! You hurt and threatened me! Ipapakulong ko kayo! There’s a CCTV footage, hindi kayo makakawala!” umatungal s’ya ng iyak.

“Excuse me, but what dirty pekpek? You sabunot me first when I just confronted you!”

Lumapit ako sa kanya. Itinapat ko ang heels ko sa bunganga noong babae. “You know what a threat means? Ito. The next time I hear you talk nonsense, I swear, that will be your last.” I said calmly.

Justise grabbed her hair again. Halos isubsob na n’ya ang babae sa flooring. Hinayaan ko s’ya. Hindi rin ako nakisali sa pagsabunot doon sa babae, I don’t want my hand to be dirty. Baka kung anong germs ang dala n’ya. Bahala na si Justise mahawa noon. I enjoyed watching them. It’s a good scenery.

“She’s my gift for your NYFW,” Justise giggled.

“I don’t eat pussy, bitch.”

Ganoon ang sitwasyon nang maabutan kami ng ilang kalalakihan. Someone grabbed Justise by the hand. It was the Brazilian airline hottie as they call him --- Henrique Priam Figueira. Hinila n’ya si Justise palayo sa babae.

Ang KJ nila! Pinanood ko sila habang pinipigilan si Justise. I didn’t bother to move. I heard about them. There were maybe ten of them facing us now. Sila lang naman ang laman ng magazines.

“You let go of me!” Justise exclaimed.

“Not gonna happen,”

Dahan-dahan namang tumayo iyong babae habang umiiyak. Nilapitan n’ya ang isa sa kanila. Lumambitin s’ya kay Sioux Kyros Centauri --- the Greek god shipping magnate. They kissed as if there’s no tomorrow, iyong naglalaban ang dila. Nakataas ang kilay ko habang pinapanood sila. Yuck! He would definitely fuck women without brains. The girl even moaned loudly. They are giving us a live show. Hindi kahali-halina, nakakadiri! He’s low.

Tumabi sa’kin si Justise, apparently, hindi na s’ya hawak noong Henrique Priam. She was looking at them with disgust also.

“Yuck! Don’t you have taste?” she even commented.

Naghiwalay ang mga labi nilang uhaw na uhaw. She cried again. “Darling, they hurt me! Kinaladkad ako at sinabunutan ng dalawang ‘yan! She even threatened me! Do you see what they did to me? Kawawa naman ako!”

Darling? Another yuck! Ang baduy.

The guy looked at me. Pinasadahan n’ya ako ng tingin at nginisian. I stared back at him intensely. I can’t lose and I won’t lose. “We’ll see about that, babe,” tititg na titig s’ya sa’kin. He licked his lower lip. I smirked.

I cleared my throat, hindi ko pa rin inaalis ang tingin ko sa kanya. I could see his features clearly. Very manly and I hate it.

“Don’t pray for a next time dear ‘cause I’ll make sure, it will be severe. Let’s go Justise!”

Nakaharang silang dalawa sa dadaanan namin. Magkadikit na magkadikit ang kanilang katawan.

“Tabi!” I spoke.

“What?”

Mukhang hindi nakakaintindi ang lalaking iyon ng tagalog. Sarkastiko ko s’yang tiningnan. “Wala akong pakialam kung hindi ka nakakaintindi ng Tagalog. Nasa Pilipinas ka, ikaw ang matutong mag-adjust.” wika ko. Wala rin akong pakialam kung hindi n’ya ako naintindihan. “Now, give way and bow, asshole!”

They gave us way. Naglakad kami ni Justise papalayo roon. Suddenly, I heard a laugh. It was sexy and sensual.

“I like my women feisty,”

I heard.

I gave him my middle finger.

I know him. I was sure, it was no other than Sioux Kyros Centauri --- the Greek god. The one considered to be ladies’ man.

Maybe, Justise’s idea of party was bad.

Honey

I'd walk through fire for you

Just let me adore you

Oh, honey

I'd walk through fire for you

Just let me adore you

Like it's the only thing I'll ever do

Like it's the only thing I'll ever do

I could hear the song in the background. Pahina nang pahina habang palayo kami ni Justise sa function hall ng Inferium.

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Monica
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