Many parked cars glistened under the sun in the school parking lot of Beaumont Herford Academy. One particular guy was leaning on a white hummer. Lighting a cigarette, Tish looked around the campus, waiting for the twins to arrive. He was blowing smoke when someone came out from the back door of the school, carrying boxes that seem heavy for someone to carry alone. On instinct, he threw his cigar and moved forward to help. As he came closer, he realized that it was the headmistress, Grazielle Buenaventura.
Well, well, well… if it isn’t little miss perfect. I guess I better help her, Tish thought, amused.
He stood in front of her and took the boxes from her hands and said, “Let me help you.” He then put the boxes on his side like it weighed nothing and turned to her, “Where’s your car?”
The woman was surprised by the sudden intrusion and just stared at him, who is looking rakishly handsome with his short messy hair as if he had run his fingers through it several times.
Regaining her equilibrium, she preceded him and went to her Mazda MX-5 Miata. “You can put it in here.” She instructed, opening the back of her car.
“Nice car.” He commented, and when he finished putting the boxes, he turned to her and smiled.
“Thank you for your help, Mr. …?”
“Just call me Tish. And you’re welcome.” He answered, giving her a nod and started to leave when she stopped him.
“How did you know my name? Do I know you from somewhere?”
“Actually, we met earlier.”
“Oh yes, that’s right. No wonder you seem familiar. You were with the twins, am I right?”
“Yes, that’s right, ma’am.”
“What’s your relation to them, if you don’t mind me asking?”
“I was hired by their mother to protect them. You can say that I’m like their bodyguard.” He explained, smirking boyishly. “But, they mean more to me than just kids I have to look out for. They’re like family now.”
“Oh, I see. How dedicated of you.” She said primly.
“Yeah, anyway, I better go. Good day to you, miss Buenaventura.”
“Of course. Thank you again.” She said and smiled slightly.
He nodded and strode away from her car and returned to stand in front of the hummer. He watched as she seated herself in the driver’s seat and revved the car to life. He followed the car with his gaze, lighting another cigarette.
I wonder if your feathers can be ruffled, miss Buenaventura, he thought, mischief glinting in his eyes.
The bell rang, loud and clear, resounding throughout the campus. Doors opened and chatters of excited students ready for their nightly activities filled the hallways of the school. They started toward their lockers, piling their things for tomorrow’s classes again. Others went straight to the parking lot to go home and get ready at home to go out with their friends much later.
After putting all the things that are not needed until tomorrow in her locker, Yvon turned to her sister, “When will you be home?”
“I don’t know. Perhaps, after I finish the task assigned to me.” Devs shrugged.
“Please never dwindle. You have to finish early. Our mommies will arrive later tonight.”
“Alright. Alright. I know already. Quit nagging. Geez.”
“I am not! I just want you to finish early.”
“Yeah, whatever.” Devs said, walking outside towards the parking lot.
Yvon gave a sigh and followed her sister. They scanned the perimeter of the lot, looking for a white hummer.
“Uncle Tish said he’s bringing the hummer. Where is he?” Devs asked, looking around.
“There he is!” Yvon exclaimed, running towards the man leaning on the hood of the car. Upon the sound of their approaching running feet, Tish looked up and smiled at them.
“Hello, girls, how’s the first day of school? Made friends already?”
“Oh, don’t ask, got into trouble on the first day.” Devs pouted.
“She got a detention. She will be staying behind for her punishment.” Yvon piped in.
“Woah! Detention on your first day? Wow, baby girl, that’s quite a record. Your mommies won’t like this, especially your mama.”
“What?! Mama’s coming too?”
“Ooops, sorry…she was supposed to surprise you. She’s done in her work in Greece. But she’ll arrive a little longer than your mommies though.”
“Oh my gosh! I am so excited,” Yvon gushed and turned to her sister. “You better hurry in coming home, Devon Zerryne. We have a lot of cooking to do.” she said looking at her sister with narrowed eyes, threatening her.
“I know, okay? I’ll do my best to finish immediately.” Devs promised and glanced at her watch. “I better go if I want to finish early.”
“Do you want me to fetch you up later?” Tish asked.
“No, it’s alright. I’ll just ride a taxi or a bus. It’s better if you help Yvon cook some food for later.” Devs suggested teasingly, knowing very well how Tish loves to cook.
Tish laughed. “You know me well. Just take care in going home, alright?”
“Aye, Aye, captain!” Devs saluted and dashed off back inside with hasty goodbyes to both of them.
With the almost empty corridors, the tapping of the shoes on the floor could be heard loudly enough to those near distance. A boy was walking towards the stairs going to the second floor, with red headphones and seemingly entranced with the music he’s listening in to. As he was busy texting, he did not see the girl bending over her unlaced shoes. He bumped into her causing her to topple over and almost hit her face on the stairs.
“Shit! What the hell?! Are you trying to kill me?” Devs exclaimed, turning her head around looking for the culprit with murderous eyes.
The guy looked at her with wide eyes and froze for a second before his face turned impassive, looking her over once and muttered, “Oh. Sorry.” He then turned, and left Devs gaping at his retreating back.
“That’s all you’ve got to say?”
The guy turned back around and looked at her with a raised eyebrow. “I already said sorry.” And with that, he rudely turned his back on her and left.
Devs was fuming. She can’t believe the gall of the guy. She stomped after him, thinking of ways of getting back at him.
As she reached the last step, she saw him turn to the direction she was heading: the office of the personnel.
Well, well, if I ain’t lucky… you’re dead meat, Devs thought menacingly. She ran after him. And as she neared him, she vaulted and smacked him directly at the back of his head. She then ran as fast as she could away from him.
“The hell!” Enrique shouted turning to see who dared hit him and he saw a girl laughing, running passed him. “You! Why d’you do that for? That goddamn hurts!”
He shot daggers at her but the only response he got was a laugh. That surprised him and watched as the girl gave him a knowing smile.
“That just serves you right. Rude people like you should be hit on the head!” she bellowed and stuck her tongue out at him, and turned around, running towards the door of the personnel office.
Instead of anger that would usually surge through him whenever someone pisses him off, a rumbling sound deep within surged up and he let go a shout of laughter.
This is the first time that someone has dared to hit him let alone laugh at him. And surprisingly, it’s refreshing for his set of mind. He’s getting tired of the scared looks and the obedience he get from people around him. Although some rumors are true, he’s not the monster they conjured up with. He looked at the door where the girl disappeared into and an idea struck him. He smiled a very mischievous smile and headed straight for the door. It’s where he’s heading anyway.
He silently opened the door and closed it with a click. The girl standing at the other side of the room, looking around, was still oblivious of his presence.
“Well, what a pleasant surprise,” Enrique said in a singsong voice. Upon hearing the taunting familiar voice, Devs spun around on her heels and saw the last man she wanted to see. She narrowed her eyes at him and said belligerently, “What are you doing here?”
“Now, that’s not how to greet the head of the personnel department.”
Devs scoffed and looked at him skeptically. “Yeah right, and I’m the Queen of Aliens.” She said, rolling her eyes at him.
“What? You don’t believe me?” He asked, feigning surprise and hurt.
“I’ll only believe you when you start telling the truth.”
“I am telling the truth.” He said, smirking at her.
She just rolled her eyes at him and went to sit to the empty chair at the front of the table, giving her back at him.
Enrique thought that she’s gonna ignore him when she spoke, “If you’re here to pick a fight or to get even for what I did to you earlier then you’re just wasting your time.” She bent her head backward so now that she’s looking at him upside down. “I don’t have the strength to fight with you and I’m too tired to even summon the wrath I had for you earlier.”
He watched her sitting there, looking at him upside-down with a look that bore confidence and haughtiness, and daring him to disregard her warning. And being the mule-headed as he was, Enrique stepped further into the room, walking towards the chair behind the big oaken table, in front of her.
Devs watched his every step and met his eyes head on.
“I’m pretty sure you’re here for detention, aren’t you miss…?”
Devs rolled her eyes and said, “Devon Zerryne Montebello. And yes, I’m here for my punishment,” she sat up straighter and looked at him pointedly. “Now, would you kindly leave ‘cause your face is sure making things irritating.” But to her surprise, the guy just burst out laughing, shaking his head in amusement. Her brows creased and looked at him like he’s gone nuts.
“What’s so funny?”
Devs just raised her eyebrow and looked at him expectantly to elaborate his answer.
“Let’s get back to business,” he said, ignoring her questioning look. “We’ll be cleaning all Science laboratories. Sign this paper for your attendance on your detention. It’s required for every student who is put to detention so don’t feel bad about it,” he said, smirking at her look of annoyance. “Now, if you’ll just sign here, then you’re good to go and start your detention.” He said, handing her a paper and pen and pointed to the bottom of the paper. Devs rolled her eyes and took the paper and pen and started filling up the form.
“Liar, Liar, Pants on fire.” Devs muttered in a singsong voice, looking up at him through her lashes, gauging his reaction. Enrique just smirked at her, not admitting to his lie.
After signing, she handed the paper to him and looked at him with a raise eyebrow.
“When are you going to ‘fess up?”
“Confess to what? I don’t know - …” Enrique was cut off as the door opened and a lady came in, a surprise registered on her face before the scowl settled in. She was eyeing Enrique through her glasses like one would to a petulant child.
“Enrique, what have you done this time?” she asked, walking forward behind the desk where he sat, “Don’t tell me you’re doing what I think you’re doing?”
“Relax, Meredith. I’m just doing you a favor by doing the strenuous task of facing cantankerous students.” Enrique explained good-naturedly, slouching in his seat, while eyeing Devs with a mischievous glint.
“Oh, hush child. You better get up on that seat before I give you worse punishment than cleaning the school!”Mrs. Meredith Porter warned. “And it’s Mrs. Meredith.”
“Alright. Alright, Mrs. Meredith.” He said emphasizing the “Mrs.” as he stood up, palms up and went to stand next to Devs, who have been just observing everything that happened. “Anyway, we’re going to clean the Science laboratories now. She already signed the paper. So, we best be on our way, then.”
Devs, who have been watching the exchange, finally spoke, “Who is she?” she asked, looking up at him.
“I’m the real Head personnel, dear.” She said, looking at her with a soft smile. Turning her gaze to Enrique, her scowl settled yet again on her face, “You better stop pretending to be the head of the personnel, young man, or I ought to really teach you a lesson. And please behave yourself. You’ve been in my care for years; it gets irritatingly boring seeing you almost every day.”
Enrique who just gave her a lopsided grin went to the old woman and hugged her from behind, resting his chin on her shoulder.
“This woman right here is the most gentlest of all gentlest.”
“Enrique, hush now!”
“What? It’s true. You’re like a mother to all the students here. Even if they treat you bad, you still hover over them like a mother hen.”
Mrs. Porter groaned, wriggling out of his embrace. But Devs noticed her expression softens every time she looks at him.
“You two better go and start your detention before it gets dark. Hurry now.” She said, waving them out of the room.
The two went out and started walking up to the fourth floor in silence. Devs turned her head and looked at Enrique curiously.
“What’s your relation to her?”
“Who is Mrs. Porter to you for you to act like that around her?”
“Oh. I guess, you can say she’s the mother I never had.” Enrique said with a soft smile, lighting up his features. Devs nodded and they continued to walk in silence.
They turned the corner and arrived at several paneled doors.
“Well, we’re here.” Enrique announced with a sweep of his hand.
“Gawd. How many laboratories are there again?”
“Let’s just not count them. We better do our work.” He said, smirking at her and turned to the small door on his right side. He took out two buckets, two sponges, two rugs, two mops, two brooms and 2 dustpans, handing the other to Devs, who, at the moment, is becoming horrified of what lies ahead of her.
“Why so many… these?!” she exclaimed, looking up at him in shock.
“Duh. You can’t clean the laboratories with just a sponge now, could you?” rolling his eyes, he swept pass her and went to the first door next to the janitor’s closet. “Have you forgotten that we have to clean the whole laboratory?” he asked, sending her a sly smile. “Start cleaning!”
Devs just rolled her eyes and trudged to the door opposite his. They started their work in silence, all the while sending each other furtive glances.
Devs who was finished cleaning the fifth room put her bucket down and went to the last and eighth door. She emerged at the same time Enrique did in the opposite door. She didn’t look at him but turned to the bucket lying seven feet away from where she was standing and without hesitation, threw the rag into the bucket like a basketball player would do to a ball and shoot it inside the hoop. With skill and precision, Devs successfully threw the rag without as so much as a splash from the water inside the bucket.
“Wow. Where did you learn that?” Enrique asked, looking at her with an impressed expression.
“Devs shrugged and picked up her broom, “I play basketball back in New York.”
“I see. You’ve got skill. You should play!”
“Yeah. Like there’s a basketball team for women here.”
“Join the men’s basketball team then.” He said confidently.
“Are you kidding me?”
“No, I’m not. I’m on the team and I’ve read the rule book by heart.” He said, going to stand in front of her, looking at her with a glint in his eyes. “And there’s no rule there stating that women are not allowed on the basketball team for men.” He finished.
Devs raised one eyebrow and eyed him skeptically. “Are you suggesting I should join the team?”
“Why not? I can sense you have great skill and talent in this game and I bet coach would love to have you in our team.” He explained, smiling down at her. “Don’t tell anyone, but coach is agitated right now ‘cause the team has not yet reached his expectations. You see, he wants his team to be the champion on this year’s game. And he’s been looking for a good player.”
“You think I can do it and be able to get in the team?” she asked, doubts clouding her eyes.
“I don’t know…”
“Oh come on. You are better than half of my teammates. Let’s meet coach tomorrow after school. Meredith won’t mind if we’ll be late for an hour or so for detention.” He urged, smiling devilishly at her.
Devs’ reluctant smile at his urging had him whooping and throw a fist in the air, “It’s settled then, I’ll meet you tomorrow at the gym and we’ll talk to coach Westley.”
“I haven’t agreed.”
“Oh, you did. Your eyes say it all.”
Devs just shook her head and rolled her eyes.
“If you don’t want your eyes to permanently roll back, you better stop doing that.” He commented, smirking.
“Shut up. It is better that way than seeing your cocky face.”
Enrique laughed and ruffled her hair.
“Watch it, ass face. No touching of hair.” Devs scowled.
“Ass face?” he asked, raising an eyebrow. “I assure you that this ass face is so handsome that it’s sinful to look at and lust after it.”
“Yep, it’s official. You’re the cockiest man on Earth.” She announced, walking pass him and took her bucket. Turning toward him, she asked, “Are you done? Let’s put these away and clean ourselves up.”
“Alright. I’ll meet you at the personnel’s office.”
Emerging from the comfort room, Devs went to the personnel’s office. Upon entering, she saw Enrique slouching on one of the couches opposite the windows.
“Why do girls take so long? Did you just take a bath?”
Devs ignored him and turned to the elderly woman sitting behind the oaken desk.
“What’s the agenda for tomorrow, Mrs. Porter?”
“Well, Miss Montebello, you and Mr. Moretti will be cleaning the canteens tomorrow. I’ll expect you right after your class.” She said, eyeing Enrique meaningfully.
“Is it alright if we are - …” Devs was about to ask but was cut off by Enrique who she hadn’t noticed was now standing beside her.
“We’ll be right on time, Mrs. Porter.” He said rather cheerfully, ushering Devs outside the room before she could say another word.
“What do you think you’re doing? We need to ask permission if we could be - …” she was cut off yet again for Enrique put a finger on her lips.
“Trust me, she won’t say yes to it. Besides, where’s the fun in that?” he said, mischief showing in his eyes. “The best things in life are the things forbidden to us. Seek the thrill, sweetheart.” He finished, chucking her under the chin.
Devs shook her head in helplessness and looked up at him again. “Only the atrocious of men wants the pleasure derived from… forbidden things.” she said in amusement, whispering the last two words. Turning around, she walked towards the stairs and spoke behind her shoulder, “Whatever, Enrique. Let’s just get out of here or my twin will get feisty with me.”
Enrique jogged towards her and started walking in her pace as he looked at her side profile curiously.
“You have a twin? Wow.” He remarked, trudging down the stairs. “What’s her name?”
“Is she anything like you?”
“Somewhat yes, why do you ask?”
“Nothing, I was just wondering if she is also as good as you in basketball.”
“She’s good at sports, too. But it’s not her passion. She doesn’t get pleasure from entering sports.”
“Oh, too bad. It would have been great if you two could join the team, then we will have two hot, beautiful women to distract the opposing team.”
Devs rolled her eyes yet again.
When they reached the parking lot, Devs suddenly cursed. “Shit, I don’t know where the hell is the bus stop.” She muttered and then turned to the guy beside her. “Hey, do you know where the bus stop here is?”
“A few blocks away from here. Why?”
“Why do you think? I’m thinking of riding it, duh.”
“I’ll give you a ride.”
“No thanks, I’m afraid of what you’ll do to me.”
“Hey! That’s just insulting.” Enrique exclaimed, mocking hurt. “Seriously come on, I’ll give you a ride. My baby is just right there.”
“Fine, that way I’ll save money.”
“Wow. I didn’t know someone who has been born with a silver spoon in their mouth couldn’t spare a few dollars.”
“FYI, I’m not born rich.” She clarified, following him towards his so- called baby. “I’m not gonna go into details of my “How the Montebello’s become rich”, just know that I don’t like wasting money, okay?”
“Fine by me.” He said, turning to the corner.
Devs stop dead on her track, her eyes widening and her jaw dropped.
“Please don’t tell me that’s your baby.”
“Yep, this is my baby right here.” He announced proudly, turning around to look at her. “Devs, meet my baby, Victoria.”
“Oh my gawd! That’s a Harley Davidson 48!” Devs exclaimed in awe and excitement.
“You know motorcycles?”
“Of course! I’ve been begging my mom to get me one.”
“Well, here’s your chance to ride the most beautiful bike with the most handsome guy you will ever see.”he cockily said, sending her with a devilish wink.
“Shut up and just give me the helmet so we can ride this sexy beast!”
“Hey! My baby’s a girl.”
“Whatever. Let’s just go already!”
“Gosh, excited much?” he muttered, but shut his mouth upon seeing her face. “Alright, put your helmet on.” He instructed and went to ride the bike.
Devs immediately put the helmet and excitedly place herself behind him, snaking her arms around him.
“Hold on tight, sweetheart. You’re in for the best ride!”
The motor roared to life and went zooming out of the parking lot.
Devs squealed as she felt the adrenaline rush through her veins, watching as the city just became a blur as they weaved their way through the city’s busy streets. Her hold on him tightened as he went faster, just barely stopping for red lights. She was having the time of her life, zooming in and out between cars.
“Faster, Enrique!” she shouted behind him.
“Your wish is my command.” He answered, sending them flying through the highway.
They reached a neighborhood of luxury apartments and penthouses and Enrique slowed the motor down along the silent streets.
They stopped to a high class apartment settled nearly at the end of the street. Devs got off and took the helmet off. She turned towards Enrique, happily smiling at him, handing him the helmet.
“Thank you for the ride.”
“You’re very welcome. See you tomorrow.”
Devs waved at him and trudged up to the building, she could hear the sound of the motor revved up, zooming out the streets.
She entered their apartment and the smell of delicious foods greeted her. As she turned the corner towards the kitchen, her sister was already standing by the door, looking at her meaningfully.
“Who was that guy?”
“Do not play dumb with me Devs. I saw you riding that thing.”
“That thing?” she asked, and rolled her eyes at her twin. “Oh come on, my twin, don’t be such a hypocrite. I very well know that you love riding motorcycles.”
“I never said I do not love to ride it,” Yvon said vehemently. “I am just concerned of who you were riding it with. You know very well that mother does not approve of us riding such thing. And be thankful that Uncle Tish is not around when you came.”
Devs sighed and slumped on one of the stools surrounding the island.
“He’s a… friend. Don’t worry. He’s a good guy,” she reassured.
“Just be careful next time.”
“Okay, I will. So, what should I do to help?”
“Clean up first and come back down here and peel those onions for me.”
Devs groaned, “ Seriously…onions? Why can’t Uncle Tish do that?”
“Quit whining and just do your work. They will be arriving in less than three hours.”
Yvon was busy shoving books in her locker, arranging them to her satisfaction. As she stuffed the last book, she heard someone called her name. She turned to her left and saw Dean running towards her.
“Yvon! Thank God I found you.” Dean exclaimed panting.
“Why? Is something wrong?”
“Nothing is wrong. In fact, it’s somewhat a good thing. Devs is coming to try for the basketball team.”
“I beg your pardon? It’s a men’s basketball team!”
“Uhm - …” Dean was cut off when a guy called his name. He turned around and saw James trudging towards them. “Hey, James, what’s up man?”
“Dean, what’s all about this girl trying out for our team?”
“Oh that. I’m actually explaining that to her sister.” He said, turning to the girl behind him. “Yvon, this is James. James, meet Yvon Montebello.”
James was surprised. Standing before him look like the girl he saw on New Year’s Eve. He shook his head, trying to get his composure and took the outstretched hand of the girl.
Wow. She definitely changed a lot, he thought. Eyeing her quietly, James noted that her hair is now curly, and her demeanor is somewhat like a lady back in the 1800’s.
She’s so prim and proper, so unlike that night on the street of Piccadilly... I wonder if she recognized me, he mused in bafflement.
But James’ thought was cut off when the girl spoke again, addressing Dean.
“Tell me what my twin has done this time.”
“She has done nothing at all. She’ll just gonna try the basketball team, that’s all.” Dean shrugged.
“Not bad at all for trying to a boy’s basketball team? That is preposterous! Has she lost her mind?”
“Hey, calm down. Coach in fact, wants to see how good she is.”
Yvon heaved a sigh and looked back at Dean, “I want to talk to her. Bring me to her. Now.”
Yep, she’s definitely a lady from the 1800’s. I wonder how she came about in this era, he thought, amused.
Dean scurried off towards the gym with Yvon on his heels.
James who was listening to their exchange, arrived at the conclusion that perhaps, she was not the girl she met that night… perhaps it was her twin.