“Are you only eating that?” Guntoro asked with disbelief looking at Endang’s plate at the breakfast buffet table.
“Well, the waiters and waitresses are standing around the table with a frowning face, I kind of feel embarrassed,” Endang asked.
He smiled. “Why don’t you sit at the table first, and I’ll bring you the food. Go on!”
Endang took her plate and walked to a table by the window with a view of the swimming pool. Guntoro arrived a few minutes later with two plates full of fruits and deli meat. “Eat up!” He said, “I know you love to eat meat.”
She happily stabbed a sausage with her fork and took a bit bite. She nodded her head happily and raised her thumb. “This is good, thanks!”
Guntoro smiled and shook his head, “I don’t see any reason for you to be embarrassed to those people, it’s not like we’ll ever see them again.”
“Besides, this trip is your birthday present, you should enjoy yourself.”
Endang turned serious, “Mas Gun, now that we’ve, you know…..um…..been together, what’s your plan?”
“I think it would be wiser if we keep things as they are, I mean in the University. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy that you’re my wife, I want to shout it out to the world. But, I don’t want your studies to be distracted by your young and gossipy friends, who I’m sure will bug you with questions.” He looked at her, seeing that she nodded in agreement he continued, “At home, it goes without saying, we’ll move your clothes immediately.”
Endang blushed but nodded anyway.
“Ah, and since you’ve been promoted from house maid to wife, we should share the chores at home too.”
“It was you, who said that being the cleaning lady was more in your comfort zone.”
“Ah…so was that the reason why you dumped all the house chores on me?”
“Well, you asked for it! If you asked me to consider you as my aunt, I would have only asked you to help me with the cooking, just like when my mother comes to visit.”
“That’s just mean!”
He laughed, “Okay, let’s stop spurring nonsense, eat up and then let’s go, we’ll go to Borobudur and then we have to catch our flight back to Malang!”
“You went to Yogya?” Riski asked with eyes full of wonder, “How come you didn’t tell me?”
“I didn’t know. Mas Gun planned the trip as a surprise birthday present for me.” She explained.
“It must be nice to have an older and working boyfriend.” Riski commented.
“We’ve actually, you know, have already became real husband and wife,” Endang said timidly.
“Ah…so the two of you have…”
“Shhht! don’t say it!” Endang jumped on her and closed her mouth with her hands.
Riski laughed, “I want to be the first to know when my niece or nephew is on the way.”
“Shht! Look, give this key ring to your boyfriend. Speaking of which, why haven’t I seen him all day?”
“He’s sick today. His with the flu. Yesterday we went to Batu together on his motorbike, and it rained on us. He was drenched.”
“Huh, and here I thought someone as thick skinned as him, will never fall ill.”
“Hey! Don’t talk bad about my poor boyfriend.” They both giggled as they walked into the faculty building.
“Hey guys, wait for us!” Endang shouted out to a group of friends who were walking a few meters in front of them. As Endang and Riski caught up, they continued with their jokes and fooling around
Several male students turned their heads as she walked through the faculty building’s hall way. Most of them have never seen such a woman. Her tight A line dress clinging to her tall and beautiful body like plastic wrap, she had on black high heel shoes that echoed against the walls with every graceful step she takes.
She stopped turning her head left to right not knowing where to go, she was about to approach and ask one of the students who were watching her with an opened mouth, when suddenly she stumbled forward as someone bumped into her from behind.
“I’m sorry.” Endang said realizing that she was at fault for walking backwards, as she was chatting with her friends, Endang’s eyes open widely recognizing who the woman in front of her was, “Dik Dini….”She gasped.
Dini was also surprised to see Endang in the building, “It’s you? Why are you here?” She asked.
“I study here! Why are you here?” Endang asked her in return.
“I’m here to see Mas Guntoro, since I met you, I need you to take me to him.” She replied briskly.
“nDang…” Riski whispered wondering who this woman was, and how come she knew Endang.
“Ris, you guys head to class first. I’m going to take this lady to see Pak Guntoro.” Endang said to her friends.
Her heart beat restlessly, making her mouth dry and her stomach turn. She wanted nothing more to do than lean against the wall and curl herself up, but she knew she had to face the situation in front of her. Endang felt her eyes were beginning to get warm, she held back her tears, not wanting to look weak in front of Dini.
She tried to walk as naturally as possible, but she realized that her steps were as stiff as a robot. To dissimulate her stiffness, she decided to quicken her pace walking towards the academic staff area. Dini moved quickly behind her, not affected by her tight dress and high heels.
“Wait here!” Endang said as she knocked the door to the office. She didn’t wait for a response, instead pushed the door slightly opened enough to fit her body in, then closing it again. There were three lecturer sitting at their respective desk, she saw Guntoro at his, concentrated at his computer screen. She nodded to the other lecturers before walking up to Guntoro and then tapping his shoulder.
He looked up, surprise to see her there looking pale and almost crying. “What’s wrong?” He asked.
She shook her head, “Nothing, there’s someone outside to see you.” She said.
She swallowed her saliva, “You should go and find out for yourself.”
He stood from his chair, “You don’t look so well, why don’t you sit down. I’m going out to see who it is.”
Endang felt her head becoming lighter as she nodded. As Guntoro took a step to walk to the door, Endang reflexively grabbed his shirt, causing him to stop and turn around, “Are you alright?” he asked again.
Her tears began falling down her cheek, but she nodded and signaled him to go ahead. She fell to the chair, sobbing in silent.
Guntoro walked to the door and opened it gently, he stepped out surprised to see the person who was waiting there for him, “Dini?” He said almost inaudibly.
Dini turned around, “Mas Gun, I came here because I needed a favor.” As always, she wasn’t much for small talk.
“This is not a good place to talk, wait here while I get my jacket, there’s a coffee shop around the corner. We can go there.” He replied.
He went back into the office and walked to his desk, “Endang, don’t cry, okay!” He whispered while wiping her face. “Why don’t you go to class, I’m going to the shop nearby to talk to Dini. Don’t start imagining weird things, I’ll see at later at home.”
He reached out to take his jacket and quickly left. Endang felt a sharp pain stabbing through her heart seeing him leave. Realizing that she was in the staff office, she stood up and quickly walked to her class, Riski had saved a spot for her.
“Who was that? She was drop dead gorgeous.” Riski asked.
“That was Dini, Mas Gun’s ex-wife,” Endang replied.
“Why is she here? What does she want?”
Endang shook her head, “I don’t know, they went out to the shop near here, to talk. Ris, I have a bad feeling.” Endang tried hard to hold back her tears.
“nDang, you shouldn’t be hasty and jump to conclusions, be patient and wait to hear what Pak Guntoro has to say about their conversation. In the meantime, you should calm down. Class is almost starting.” Riski said as the lecturer entered the class room.
Endang found it hard to concentrate on the subject. Her mind kept drifting away, she was fighting the urge to stand up and run to the shop where Guntoro and Dini were talking. But she knew that she had to save her own dignity.
“How have you been doing, Din?” Guntoro asked.
“Not so good. I have been having problems with Brian my husband, we have decided to separate for a while to sort out our feelings.”
“So why are you here? What do you need from me?”
“My parents are upset because my second marriage is not working out. They are afraid that I’m going to have another divorce because that would affect their reputation.” She paused and looked at him sharply, “We both know that the reason our marriage failed and ended in a divorce was not my fault.”
“Dini, haven’t I apologized enough for that?’ Guntoro exclaimed
“You’ve apologized a lot, but not enough.”
Guntoro took a deep breath, “What do you need from me?” He asked.
“I need a place to stay for a few days. At least until I sort out my feelings. I don’t want to stay at my parents’ house because they keep nagging me and it’s making me feel uncomfortable.”
“Isn’t there any hotels in the country that you can go to?”
“Don’t talk to me like that! I don’t want to go to a hotel because my father can trace my credit card transactions and he could try to find me.”
“It’s just that End…Bu Lik Endang lives in my house. And maybe she’ll feel uncomfortable with your presence there.”
“She lives with you?” Dini looked at him in astonishment. “And your grandparents allowed that?”
“It’s a long story,” Guntoro replied.
“Mas Gun, I don’t want to resort to this, but what do you think will happen if I tell that little girl the real reason for our divorce?”
“Dini! Are you going to use blackmail to force me to let you stay at my house?”
“If that’s what it takes.” She replied while lifting her shoulders.
“You haven’t changed a bit!” He said.
“Neither have you, you’re still hanging on to that obsession of yours.” She said with disgust.
“It’s not just an obsession, it never was, and it never will be.” He said firmly.
“Think about it carefully, either you let me stay in your house or I’ll start singing to that little girl. Let’s see if she’d see you the same way again if she heard about…”
“Enough!” He interrupted, “Fine, you can stay in my house, but just for a few days. And you better behave around Bu Lik Endang.”
Dini smiled, ‘”I knew you would agree with me. Give me your address. I left my luggage at a friend’s house.”
“Why didn’t you stay with your friend instead?” He asked.
Dini leaned forward and whispered in his ear, “Because you’re not there.”
“She’s what?” Endang almost yelled at the top of her lungs.
“It’s just for a few days, until she can sort out her feelings. She’s having problems with her husband, so she needs to re-capacitate.” He explained.
“And she decided that her ex-husband’s house is the best place to do it?” Endang pursued.
“My love, are you jealous?” He asked her softly while reaching out for her hand
“What do you think you bone head?” Endang shook his hand away.
He pulled her into a hug, “nDang, please understand me this once. There’s nothing left between Dini and myself, we both have moved on from each other. Besides, I have you now, I don’t have any space left in my heart and mind for anybody else.”
Endang stayed quiet, not convinced. She knew that since he had already decided there’s not really anything much she can do about it, she can only accept his decision. Her heart was filled with an overwhelming doubt. She was well aware if she had to compete with Dini, she would lose miserably. If she was to compare herself to Dini, she would be like a weed and a rose. “But this weed can strangle the rose and even a peacock if they tried anything funny.” She said to herself.
“nDang, there’s one other thing.” Guntoro continued, “It’s better if Dini doesn’t know about our relationship.”
“What?” Endang looked at him suspiciously.
“It’s not because of what you’re thinking. It’s just that Dini isn’t a person that can be trusted, she’s calculating and scheming. I don’t want her to use that information against us.”
“Fine!” Endang stood up, “Have it your way!” She ran upstairs into her room and locked the door. She threw herself onto the bed and cried her heart out. This was just her luck. They had just began to grasp their love for each other then something like this happened.
Her heart was about to explode. The last time she was crying of a broken heart, Guntoro was by her side consoling her, but now it was him who’s causing her this pain. She wanted to hate him, but she couldn’t take him out of her mind. If she had to compare how she felt when she broke up with Widodo and how she feels at this moment, the previous seemed insignificant and the latter felt as if her world was about to fall apart.
She heard the doorbell ring, it made her hurt even more. She grabbed her pillow and clasped it around her head, she didn’t want to hear anything that was going on outside. She pressed her head against the other pillow that was there and screamed as hard as she could, muffling the sound in the pillow filling. The thought of going out of the house and go to Riski’s place crossed her mind, but considering it again, maybe living Guntoro and Dini alone in the house wasn’t such a smart decision.
“Bu Lik, open the door, don’t you want to eat dinner?” Guntoro knocked on the door.
“Get lost!” She shouted.
“This house is too small for me to get lost in.” He replied, trying to lighten the situation.
“I’m not hungry!”
“I won’t take no for an answer, if you don’t open this door, I will.” He insisted.
Endang ignored him and covered her head with the pillow again. She heard the door being unlocked and opened, “What are you doing?” She angrily shouted at him.
“I told I won’t take no for an answer.” He replied. He was carrying a tray of food with him. “Come here, you should eat, otherwise you might get sick.”
She shook her head stubbornly.
He closed the door behind him and sat on the bed beside her. “My love, don’t be obstinate.” He whispered in her ear while caressing her hair.
She looked at him for a while, “I’m too sad to eat, I’m so stressed out that I feel like I want to puke. And there’s nothing I want more to do than leave this house and never come back.”
“nDang, you can leave, but wherever you go, I’ll find you and bring you back, even if I have drag you or tie you up. Don’t dream that I’m ever going to let you go that easily. Don’t forget that!” He’s tone changed becoming serious.
“Why? Your beauty has come back to you.” Endang retorted
“She might be a beauty, but she’s not the one I want. What good would that do me?”
Endang took a deep breath and exhaled, “Speaking of beauty, where is she? How come you came into my room, didn’t you say that you didn’t want her to know about us?”
“What’s wrong with me bringing food to my sick aunt?” He said.
“Ah, so you’re cursing me to fall ill are you?” She responded.
“Stop it with the nit picking!” He shook her hair, “Go ahead and eat, if you need me I’ll be in my room.”
Endang woke up to a rustling noise outside her room, she heard the sound of a door opening and whispers. She got up and got down from her bed, she quickly opened her door to see what was going on. To her surprise Dini was walking out from Guntoro’s room, only in a shirt.
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