F Chapter 4: Feign



People come to America thinking they'll find happiness and fortune. Instead, they end up with exactly what they wanted to leave behind... themselves.




I live in the city, a spot secluded by thick trees, cute dogs, and wide roads within earshot of convenience. If it wasn't for divine intervention and a whole lot of desperation, I wouldn't be able to afford living in my apartment.

The street where I live is nestled by local stores and neighborhood restaurants on the North side with the Hollywood sign as the backdrop. Korean aesthetics has converted this part to a fashion playground. From store signs to displays, colors and lights are abundant. It feels like each store is tickling you pink with cuteness every time you pass by.

The east side leads to Downtown. If business is fueled by warmth and familiarity on the North, formality and stature does it for this side. Downtown is where multi-million companies hold offices in high-rise buildings run by men and women in suits cradling power with their pens and suitcases.
On the west are the glamorous Hollywood studios. It is where the dreams of fame and fortune are molded and fulfilled for a few and shattered to million different pieces to more. The sweat and tears of souls wanting a piece of the fame mingle with the tourists marveling at beauty of the surface, totally clueless at the pain buried deep under the paved ground their buses drive on.

On the south is a few more blocks of apartments and houses that funnel to a Korean school known for nurturing the creative interest of its students. The walls of the school are painted by students with images that tell a story that progresses and evolves with time. It's like witness the formation of a universe that exists only in the imagination of purity.

I live on the third floor of a three-story apartment building that has its own common balcony, swimming pool, and patio. Except for the occasional emergency siren, dogs barking, and even rarer cars honking, it is generally quiet. I am a stone's throw away from shops and restaurants and the few party places, and yet, I get to enjoy quiet evenings, shaded sidewalks, thick trees with abundant leaves and occasional chatters of Koreans who always seem excited about something. I never take these things for granted, especially not in afternoons like this, when there I know there's something heavy about to fall. Shedry is dropping by and that pretty much signals the end of my writing for the day. I decided to take a walk around the block while I wait for her.

Walking around the neighborhood never fails to relax me. There's the rustling of the leaves of the trees as this way to the tune of California wind like a maracas in the hands of a toddler running after a playful puppy. There are muffled conversation and laughter old couples as they take their afternoon walks with their straw hats, canes, and thick jackets. The cool breeze is gently brushing my face. I hear the paws of a dog hopping against the paved sidewalk. There's comfort in this simplicity.
It is one of those peaceful and comfortable LA afternoon and I try to just soak it in and brush aside the nagging feeling that this may be a warning of sort. Shedry has always been closer to Uma, having been roommates before Vince arrived in the U.S. Uma is her default company. The mere fact that she called me first means something isn't right. Then there's the urgency. After slightly ghosting on us since Vince arrived, it is uncharacteristic of her to want to meet up so urgently in a perfectly good afternoon.

It did three full circles before I find Shedry by the gate of my apartment with an overnight bag.

"Vince is insisting we get Dylan here. He said Dylan is growing up and he needs us with him." Dylan is Sherry and Vince's son who is in the Philippines.

Vince isn't wrong. Dylan is about to turn six, a critical age for any kid. Scratch that. Any age is critical to kids and they always need their parents.

"So what's holding you back?" I asked. We are already settled in my dining area. The coffee is made and the smoke of the hot liquid sways between us.

"I computed my finances, I can't afford it yet. I need at least $700 more a month for babysitting, daycare, education and insurance," Shedry said. Right now, she's barely saving $100 a month.

"Okay but you have a husband… who is working. You have two incomes now," I said.

"Yes but it's primarily my responsibility," Shedry said.

"Because you earn more?"

"Because that's what I agreed on. It was the only way Vince was going to have a baby with me."

"I'm missing a step."

"Vince didn't want to have a child with me. That's why we waited so long. He said we can't afford it when we were in Italy. He said the only way he would have a baby with me is if I can promise that I will be able to fully financially support the child."

I am pretty good at keeping my chill but… shit. I'll be one overweight hypocrite if I say I have never done something out of desperation. In fact, I may have never done anything in my life that is not motivated by desperation. Almost every job I took was because I didn't have any other offers. Both relationships I've been in happened because there wasn't anyone else. So, I fully understand why Shedry decided to commit to the responsibility.

It doesn't make it sane though. The actual problem lies in the aftermath… when the smoke clears and we are hit with the weight of routine and limited by the shackles of our stupidity.

We date bad boys because they are exciting… until they actually become bad boys and we start hurting. We try to change them, maybe become bad to other people but good to us. We ignore the fact that we wanted them in the first place because they were bad.

And it's borderline delusional if not downright idiotic. The terms were always clear. And we agreed to it. Now, we're trying to revise the actual foundation of the contract.

Shedry agreed to be solely financially responsible for Dylan. I have no doubt that when she told Vince she was financially ready, she really was but she didn't foresee just how fast kids grow and how slow our salaries increase. She didn't anticipate that even though she is the only one who will be financially responsible for Dylan, it didn't mean Vince was relinquishing his rights to make decisions about Dylan.

"So that's why you fought?" I asked.

"No… I mean that's part of it," Shedry said.

"What's the other part?" I asked as I pour her another cup of coffee.

"I am tired, Xath," Shedry said. "I am so tired."

I wouldn't necessarily classify Sherry as a drama queen or unreasonably emotional. She was never the kind to cry over superficial bruises. So, when she starts evidently holding back tears, I knew there was something more to it.

"I'm just… stuck. I wake up and prepare our packed lunch. After work, I run home like a mad woman frantic, worried about what I am going to cook for dinner because God knows I won't hear the end of it if he comes home to an empty dinner table," Shedry said. "My weekends are for laundry, cleaning, and buying stuff so I can do the same things again the next week. I don't get to see you guys anymore. I don't get to see anybody. I live in this beautiful and big state but I have never felt so caged in my entire life. And the worse part is that I am supposed to have a better life than women who never goes on a day without getting hit by their husbands. He does not womanize. He does not go around committing crimes. I have a healthy beautiful boy and I have a stable job and I have a roof over my head and food on my table. I have no reason to be sad but...I am... and tired."

"Did he tell you you are not allowed to see your friends?"

"Not directly, no," Shedry said. "But we would always fight whenever I would come to see any of my friends and we've been fighting over so many things so I decided maybe if I just don't go out to see my friends that would be at least one less thing to fight about."

"What do you fight about? I mean... aside from friends."

"Dylan. He insists we need to get Dylan to come here. But he hates it here. He wants us to go back to Italy. We fight about the food. The apartment. My friends. We're just… we can't find anything in common."

If I'm being objective about it, there is nothing intrinsically evil in their relationship. Irritating, maybe but not evil. This kind of setup is not uncommon to Filipino couples. Filipino women are traditionally stay-at-home Housewives. They cook, they clean the house, they do the laundry, and they bear kids. Forgive my country for getting stuck in the 50s. It's very Filipino but it's not Shedry.

Shedry and Uma are extreme extroverts. They crave human interaction. They are not specifically partygoers. I have seen them in clubs, pubs, and bars and they never took the center of the dance floor. In fact, they hardly stepped on the dance floor. They just like company.

Kris thinks she's an introvert. She's not and neither is Anthonia. They both like interaction. They just don't have a lot of friends. It's one of the reasons Anthonia is able to live with her sister, sleeping on the couch all these years. She doesn't need constant isolation.

I am the only introvert in the group. I am the only one who chases solitude. I am the only one who needs solitude like my life depends on it. It doesn't but my sanity does. It's not that I hate people but I exert energy dealing with them, like one would do when exercising. It exhausts me and an exhausted me is a stupid me and I don't like being stupid anymore than I already am.

It's one of the things that we have come to understand about each other. We each have different personalities and we respect it. It doesn't keep us from being friends. Unfortunately, Vince doesn't. He doesn't understand and according to Shedry, he doesn't have the "capacity" to understand. If you know what I mean. And when you're up against, errr, lack of capacity to understand, you'll never win.

"I'm still not clear on what you fought about this time," I said. "You blew up on him because you're bored… tired… frustrated? What?"

"I lied to him."

Oh.

"Do you remember Ginger?" Shedry asked.

Shedry has mentioned Ginger to us more than a couple of times. Ginger was Shedry's friend back in college and the most hated girl in school because she was pretty, sexy, and like sex. She was tagged the resident slut but Shedry was friends with her and Vince never agreed with that.

"She's here for a visit," Shedry said.

"And you met with her," I said, not needing a confirmation.

"Ginger took care of my Dad when my Dad was sick and I couldn't go home because of this visa situation," Shedry said. "She's here in LA for several days and all she asked for was coffee with me."

"I get it," I said because I did but there's a missing piece. "How did Vince know that you met with her?"

"I told him," Sherry said.

I'm no Einstein but it doesn't take one to put two and two together. She knew Vince would never let it go if she ever does something Vince didn't want her to do. She stopped seeing us because she was so tired of all the fights and not seeing us means one less thing to fight about but she told Vince about seeing Ginger even though she knew Vince would have never known otherwise. I do not condone lying but if she really wanted to avoid an argument, what's the point of saying you met a friend for coffee?

"Can I stay here for tonight?" Shedry asked.

"Of course," I said even though the I knew she already knew the answer. I expected that one night to turn into several nights. What I didn't expect is for that several nights to turn into couple of months. 


=====================================

Azriel, Uma's boss, owns 32 buildings in Downtown. All 32 building are managed and operated by 12 full-time employees, all are Filipinos.

It's more common than people would think. If I'm a businessman in the US, I would also hire Filipinos. Filipinos work hard. We speak the language. We have a shitty accent but we speak it well enough to be understood and understand not just the denotation but the connotation of the word.
We're highly educated. It's rare to find Filipinos in the US who didn't finish college.

The bonus, however, is our peerless inferiority complex. Yup, we're a bunch of insecure pricks. We think anyone with a white skin, blonde hair, and names that remotely sound like the ones we hear from Hollywood movies is better than us. We take delight in hearing people trying to pronounce Tagalog words as if it's the greatest honor we can ever have. We feel shame when we can't speak english fluently.

I am not sure how we got here. Maybe it's because of the 250 years of being ruled by the Spaniards before the Japanese came and then the Americans. Somehow, the change of leadership, the constant need to adjust to different cultures, different laws, and different beliefs fucked up our identity and confidence. Maybe, it turned us into damsels in distress. We always need someone to rescue us and affirm our importance.

So, we work hard because we are always trying to prove ourselves to be worthy of someone else's favor. Our value is dependent on someone's affirmation. Our success is dependent on someone else's signature. That culture is very much reflected on my country's economy.

To this day, Philippines is kept afloat by Overseas Filipino workers' (OFW) sending money back home. As much as 70% of our GDP (I think that's what they call it) comes from OFWs. While Japan is known for Toyota, Korea for Samsung, and China for manufacturing just about anything we use and consume, Filipinos are known for exporting workers. Filipinos bear children. Yup, we pop them out in an assembly line. One baby comes out, 'that's a nurse right there'. Another one comes out, 'that's a teacher'. Another one, 'let's make that an electrical engineer. There's a big construction in Dubai'. Another baby, 'how about an accountant? Doctor? Caregiver it is!'

Our entire educational system is designed to train students to become great employees instead of leaders. It's a pretty effective for the purpose that it was built. You can find a Filipino worker in almost every country you go to, even in countries no one has ever heard of. Marco Polo has nothing on us. Name it, we're there. Filipinos are great workers, great followers, great employees but we were never trained to be innovators.

We have brilliant graduates whose primary concern is to get a job, work from 8 to 5, and get their paychecks twice a month.

Even in our own country, we end up working for Chinese businessmen. Ha!

So when I arrived here in California and found out that many companies prefer Filipinos, it didn't come as a surprise. We have spent 16 years of our lives under an educational system that taught us to work hard, follow the rules and do what we can to make sure that the company we work for grow prosperous. We shut our mouths and let our brains, hands, and feet do the talking.

We don't complain. Even if we are given tasks that are not included in our job description, we take it even if it means unpaid overtime because working and paid overtime is way better then not having a job. Hey, at least we see the glass half-full.

Employers know for sure that we are less likely to file complaints because we came from a country where complaints sit on someone's desks for decades… literally. Well, it could also be filed in some box… if not totally discarded altogether. Lawsuits never get settled. And if they ever do, it's usually goes in favor of the person who has money rather than the person who is right.

It's Ludacris from a marketing perspective. Our unwillingness to say 'no' pushes down our market value. It shows we don't trust that we are good enough with what we are hired to do that we allow ourselves to do more without getting paid more. We don't trust that we are valuable enough so we keep on trying to add value.

So, when Uma told me that she needs to get a new job because her current company wouldn't petition her, it didn't really surprise me. His employer thinks she'll take it sitting down because there's nobody else out there that will take her.

"Robbie didn't give his share again this month," Kris said.

"Did he give his share last month and the month before that and before that?" Uma asked.

Kris didn't reply and that's a reply in itself. Uma understands that.

"Kris we already told you that he will not give his share again. You're going to have to spend for your own wedding all by yourself. But, it's okay. You're in America. In America, the woman actually spends for the wedding. So, you know?" Lady Gaga said.

"He said he will give his share next month," Kris said.

"That's what he said last month and the month before that," Lady Gaga said. She's not the sharpest pen in the box but she's has a point.

Uma pushes the glass door open and goes straight to the receptionist. "Hi, I'm Uma. I have an interview at 10.".

The receptionist, tall, young and has the eyes of a cat, takes the resume that Uma is handing her but her eyes dart to the two people standing behind Uma. "Are they scheduled for an interview too?" The receptionist asked.

"Oh no, they're just accompanying me," Uma said.

It's rather strange and Uma can't argue with that. She's applying for a marketing position, she's in her need 30S, and she's going to a job interview with two chaperones.

"You can take your seat, I'll call you when it's your turn," the receptionist said.

Uma and her backup dancers head towards the waiting area.

"Kris, Robbie has not given his share since the first month. I think you really need to restructure your budget. I am not judging Robbie, but I don't think he will be able to give the rest of his share," Uma said.

"I'm going to talk to him. He needs to give me his share. He doesn't have a choice. I just don't want to add friction right now. We've already been fighting the last several weeks," Kris said.

"About what?" Lady Gaga asked, without looking at Kris. She is busy taking photos of the beautiful wall painting on the reception area. The office looks modern. The reception area itself is a semicircle with white walls, white floor, white reception desk, white sofa, and white tables. The only accents are the pillows with pastel colors in the huge painting right behind the receptionist also with pastel colors.

"It's this Matthew and Anthonia situation," Kris said. "I told Robbie to tell Matthew's girlfriend about the hookup that happened between Antonia and Matthew."

"Are you crazy?" Lady Gaga said. "That's none of your business."

Again, girl's got a point.

"Besides, they are still on and Matthew's relationship with the girlfriend has been rocky for months," Lady Gaga said.

"Who told you it's rocky?" Kris asked.

"Anthonia and there may be some truth to that. If it was just a hook up, why drag it for weeks?" Uma said. "I think you should leave it alone. Anthonia is happy. Going back to your wedding, why are you here?"

Kris shifts in her seat before looking at Uma, "Do you think you can find a cheaper supplier for my souvenirs videographer and photographer?"

"The one that I gave you is already cheap and good," Uma said.

"If I were you, I would just ask Xath to be the photographer. She can do it for free," Lady Gaga said.

"Xath is not a professional photographer and she's going to be the MC. How can she be the MC and the photographer?" Kris asked.

"Oh I have an idea!" Lady Gaga's said, flipping her hair and temporarily putting away her cell phone out of her face. She wiggles her body, like toddler who has had too much sugar. "Why don't you just place a disposable camera on each of the chair and ask the guests to take pictures. Most of that is going to be trash but with the sheer number of photos, you are bound to get good shots. I saw someone do that on Pinterest. Why don't you try that?"

"I'm only going to be married once. I'm not going to take a risk and put the fate of the photos of my wedding on the hands of 125 people who can't take a selfie for their life," Kris said.

"Well you're never going to know unless you try," Lady Gaga said.

"Oh my God, don't you get it? I don't want to try. This is my wedding. I don't want to end up with a thousand shity photos," Kris said. "I already know what I want I want a videographer and photographer that's good and cheap. And that's why I'm here, because I know that if there's anybody who can find me one, it's Uma."

"Fine fine. I'll look for one if that's what will make you two stop fighting," Uma said.

"I'm not fighting with anybody. I'm just here for the company. I haven't seen you guys in forever!" Lady Gaga said. "I have tons of news!"

"Like what?" Uma asked.

Lady Gaga Shrugged "I got a new job."

"You have? I didn't even know you quit the other one," Kris said.

"They wouldn't petition me," Lady Gaga said, pouting. "This one is a property development. Well, that's one of his many businesses."

So what do you do there?" Kris asked.

"It's complicated," Lady Gaga said.

"It must be numbers. Accounting," Kris said.

"No," Lady Gaga said, huffing because it's so complicated to describe a job. "He has many businesses aside from the property development company and he wants me to become like his personal assistant. So, I actually work at his house," Lady Gaga said.

"At his house?" Uma asked, not bothering to hide her shock.

"It's safe," Lady Gaga said. "He is married and has two kids. He has a home office and that's where I work."

"Where is his house?" Kris asked.

"Beverly Hills," Lady Gaga said.

"And they will petition you, right? Kris asked.

"Yes, that's part of my deal."

"And you're happy with it?" Uma asked

"He's asking me to get a driver's license," Lady Gaga said.

"Wow. He is giving you a car?" Kris asked

"No. He has two kids," Lady Gaga said.

"We've established that," Uma said.

"They are in grade school," Lady Gaga said.

"I think I know where this is going," Kris muttered to herself.

"He wants me to bring and pick up his kids from school his kids from school, Lady Gaga said.

Uma and Kris know that they have the same question in their head. Well, it's not even a question. It's a realization that this thing is fucked up but they are both unsure if Lady Gaga wants to hear it.

"So right now, who is picking up his kids from school?" Kris asked.

"I am. We take Uber," Lady Gaga said.

"Are you getting paid well?" Kris asked.

"Eleven per hour," Lady Gaga said and although Kris and Uma didn't say anything verbally, the look on their faces showed just how crazy they think she is. She was already getting $16 per hour in her first job. Why on Earth will she agree to $11 per hour in a job that entails nanny duties on top of her 'personal assistant' duties.

"Uma, they're ready for you. Please proceed to conference room number two. Second room to your right," the receptionist said.

"Thank you," Uma said standing up before turning back to Kris and Lady Gaga. "You know what? We all have to make sacrifices. If you need to get paid 11 per hour and bring and pick up his kids from school, then do it. Just make sure he will petition you."

"It's okay," Lady Gaga said. "We agreed that after 3 months, he is going to give me an increase. I also get to travel. In fact, we're going to Vegas next month and they'll be paying for everything."

What Lady Gaga forgot to mention is that she wasn't going to get paid while in Vegas. They will be paying for her accommodation and food but she will not be getting paid because the trip isn't a business one, it's a family vacation.

Shayna, the wife of Lady Gaga's employer, hands 3 shopping bags to Lady Gaga. Lady Gaga takes it, adding to the four bags she already has.

"We should have lunch, the kids are getting irritated," Shayna said. Shayna is tall and with the 3-inch heels she is wearing, she is almost 6 feet tall. She turns towards Lady Gaga. "Go back to the hotel and put those bags down. I'll text you where we will decide to eat and you can just follow."

"Okay," Lady Gaga said because she didn't really have much of a choice, at least not from her perspective. She was promised a petition and she needs it because there's no way in hell she's going back to the Philippines and tell everyone she failed in the U.S.

She walks back into the hotel under the scorching heat of the Vegas desert. She goes back into the hotel room she shares with kids and puts the bags down before sitting on the bed to catch her breath. She needs to walk half a mile to get to the restaurant where the family is and she knows that even though they would be willing to wait for her to finish her food before leaving the restaurant, she can't possibly make everyone wait for her.

She goes down and stop by Walgreens to buy bread and drinks so she can have lunch while she walks to the restaurant. She needs the energy, Shayna has more shopping to do and the kids will have energy to run around and it will be up to her to keep an eye on them while carrying the shopping bags.


===================================== 


 I was on the 5th hour of my 6-hour shift when Anthonia walks in the store. There were more than 10 people lined up in my booth waiting to get their turn for booze samples so I try my best to ignore her obvious attempts to distract me. She keeps her distance which surprised me because I was half expecting her to survey every guy in line and see who she can flirt with. There are several I know will pass her standards. But she didn't. She didn't even spare a glance.

Thirty minutes and 25th person later, my booth is finally vacant.

"I thought you just want to rest on Fridays to prepare for your double shift on the weekends," I said as I start cleaning up my booth.

"You're supposed to greet your customers, look for a conversation starter and slide in your free sample," Anthonia said, teasing.

"I'm also supposed to report to security when I spot a crazy customer," I retorted.

She laughs but doesn't back down, "Here is my ID and I want a sample of your top 5 best red wine."

"This is the same shit you sampled last week," I said.

She gasps, holding her hands to her chest. Horrible impression of being offended. "You can't use vulgar words, it's in your manual."

I pretend to inspect her ID, "You're too old to drink, ma'am. Do you have your caregiver with you?"

"I hate you," she said, feigning anger. "I thought you were going to get fired last week. Why do you even work here anyway? I thought you got an increase in the law firm."

"It's not enough. You're not the only one with bills to pay," I spat. "And this pays better."

"Define better."

"Five dollars per hour better."

"Your work in the law firm pays shit."

"No shit, Sherlock."

I hand her a sample of my best red wine nonetheless.

"Can I taste your best white wine? Can I do laundry in your building tomorrow?" She asked.

"Yes and yes. You could have called to ask that though. What are you doing here?" I asked. She has been staying in the employee quarters of the hotel where she works weekends and doesn't like doing laundry there because it's expensive.

"I'm going to meet Matthew for dinner, a block from here," she said.

"Matthew? It's been three weeks. This must be a record of sort. What time are you coming tomorrow? I'll have everyone go to my place for lunch," I said.

"Sure but not Kris," Anthonia said.

"Dude, you need to get your shit together," I said.

"I have been patient with her, Xath. But she does nothing but attack me," Anthonia said.

"Just grow up and talk already," I said.

"What do you care?" She asked, taking another sample I wasn't planning on giving her.

"It's fuckin' exhausting having to shuttle between you two. I have enough shit in my life, I really have no interest in taking part in yours," I said.

"Well then let me know when she can accept the fact that my vagina is none of her business and then I'll think about maybe talking to her again," she said before downing two more samples and walking out.


=====================================


Anthonia was all smiles the next day when she showed up at my apartment at 8am with two laundry baskets full of dirty clothes. I lead her to the laundry room and told her to just to my apartment for coffee. I haven't yet mentioned Shedry staying with me for several days now. I figured I'll let the two squeal in happiness when they reunite but I haven't even set one foot out of the laundry room when I got a text from Uma.

Uma
911. Hyuna Coffee.

Hyuna Coffee is our favorite coffee shop just at the end of my block and 911 is our code for a date going bad and a rescue is needed.

"At 8am? What the…"

"What is that?" Anthonia asked.

"Uma is on a date at Hyuna and she needs me to bail her out," I said.

"At 8am?" Anthonia asked. "Well, what are you standing there for? Rescue her."

I probably murdered someone in my past life to deserve all these. I throw a silent prayer to whatever god can hear me and promise to be a good human being from then on if I never met these four people again in my next life.

=====================================

Uma's eyes widen as she sees Shedry and Anthonia laughing over a cup of coffee and fresh milk bread.

"What are you two doing here?" Uma asked. She's wearing 'date clothes' while Shedry is in her pyjamas and Anthonia is in jeans and shirt, the only clean ones she has left, she claims.

"Laundry," Anthonia said.

"Later," Shedry said. "What are you doing here?"

Uma plops down on one of the chairs, spreading her legs and hands as if in surrender to life, "She wouldn't let me go."

"Back up," Shedry said. "From the top."

"We were together Monday night, Tuesday night, Wednesday night, Thursday night, and last night," Uma said, sitting up.

"Possessive much," Anthonia said.

"Exactly!" Uma said. "I wanted to go home last night but she insisted I stay the night. I thought, fine, it was late and Uber's rate was surging through the roof but when I was saying goodbye this morning, she wanted to have coffee. Oh my god."

"She likes you," Shedry said.

"Obviously," I said. "Apparently, Uma doesn't like her."

"I do!" Uma said. "But not that much!"

"Where did you meet this girl?" I asked.

"Plenty of Fish," Uma said.

"Is that a bar?" I asked.

"No! What? No! It's a dating app," Uma said.

"Oh. Never heard of it," I said.

"Is she pretty?" Anthonia asked.

"She's okay," I said.

"No," Uma said. "She's not ugly but she's not pretty."

"Does she know this is just a hookup?" Shedry asked.

"She should," Anthonia said.

"But does she?" Shedry asked again.

"I don't know. I never mentioned anything beyond a hookup," Uma said.

"Yeah but you've seen her four days in a row. You might be sending the wrong signal," I said.

"She's the one calling," Uma defended.

"You're still the one agreeing and… you stayed the night," I said.

"I don't think that will be the last of her," Anthonia said. "You better tell her straight if you're not interested in her."

"Oh my god. She's so clingy," Uma said.

"Some people like that," Shedry said.

"I don't!" Uma said. "And that's on my profile."

"Profile?" I asked.

"In the dating app!" Uma asked.

"Oh. Put it in all caps or maybe you should actually say you're just there for hookups," I said.

"I am not just there for hookups but this one is not a relationship material," Uma said.

"Maybe you should be clearer on your expectation before you do the deed," I said.

Uma opens her mouth to respond but my buzzer beeps.

They look at me, silently asking if I'm expecting anybody. I wasn't.

"Who is it?" I said to the machine connected to the lobby buzzer.

"It's me," the voice from the gate said.

"Oh my god," Anthonia said.

Uma and Shedry look at each other and laugh.

"Maybe it's time for a reconciliation," Shedry said.

"I'll be in the laundry," Anthonia said, bolting out as soon as I press the button to open the gate.
Anthonia did stay in the laundry and wasn't there to see Kris practically run to my door with puffy eyes, uncombed hair, and unironed shirt.

"The wedding is cancelled," Kris announced.


"F" Chapter Guide

Fairlane Raymundo

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