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Her vision had narrowed since she had that last bottle at the beach. Zara Castillo could only make out the receptionist at the front desk and the turquoise travertine floor of the Crystalline’s lobby. She missed the glimmer from the waterfall fountain by the lounge as well as the vases of violet cattleyas that adorned the room, her thoughts coursing like waves from a battering sea.

 

I shouldn’t have let him walk me back here. But damn it, I couldn’t say goodbye just yet.

 

Matthew Villanueva had claimed he was with friends in the tropical party island that is Boracay, yet he had spent most of the weekend with her. That night, they had danced at a bar by the shore, bantered until Zara teared up from laughing, and lounged on a rattan sofa as they watched the moon glisten over the sea.

 

She glanced at Matt—at the sparkle of his hazel eyes, those lean bronzed arms, that easy gait as he ambled beside her. A staccato began to beat against her chest.

 

The short-lived elopement between Anne Tioleco, one of Zara’s best girlfriends, and Daniel de Sola was now barely in her thoughts, even though their whole clique had been getting massages by the beach just the other day. Forgotten, even though they had a riot over dinner at the new Grill’d restaurant with the former groom-to-be just last night. A distant memory, even though Anne and Daniel had broken up this very morning after he had confessed to being in love with another man and everything since then went sour and south. No, Zara could not even think about these things right now.

 

Matt had only drunk a couple of beers, but his cheeks were already pink, thanks to the paraw sailing he did around the island. The smell of her lavender shampoo and the hint of sunblock on her skin teased him. The orange peacock-print boho dress she wore flowed down her svelte figure and made her skin glow under the fluorescent light.

 

Zara clasped her hands together behind her back as they walked into the lift. Her eyes remained glued to the doors as the elevator moved up.

 

“You’ve been awfully quiet on the walk here,” Matt remarked.

 

“Oh, I was just sobering up.” She shook her head.

 

Ding!

 

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