Back To December (Love Symphony Series #1)
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Tiffany Salazar has witnessed how her once-perfect family turned into a broken one. That’s why she did everything she could to make sure that her relationship with her boyfriend, Travis Jason Vernon, would not share the same fate as what happened to her parents. But as the years passed by, the realization hit her. In order to be with the man that she truly loves and maintain the stability of their relationship, she had to give up one thing that she ever wanted: Freedom. Wherein no one will have full control of her life. To the point that she doesn’t even know her true self anymore. That’s why, no matter how much she wants to protect the love that they have, in the end, she chooses to protect herself first. And it will only happen if she breaks up with Travis. So she did. As she finally goes on with her life, she notices that something is still missing. That the freedom she wants never gave her happiness and contentment. Much to her regret, it only became the reason for her to lose her first and true love. Determined to win Travis back, will she be able to correct the mistake she made and restart everything from that Christmas night? Or will she end up drowning herself in regrets and embracing her chosen freedom?
It was in the second semester of our first year in college when I first noticed Travis Jason Vernon. He’s the kind of man that every girl in all year levels dreams to be with, and I admit that I’m one of his fangirls too.
Who wouldn’t be, anyway?
He has a good voice that you will never tire of hearing, is a good actor when it comes to role-playing and theater activities, and is one of the top students in the College of Mass Communication. He also has a smile that can make you fall for him instantly and a boy-next-door look.
But I’m the type of person who quietly admires him from afar. I’m not like other girls who are bold in seeking attention and expressing their feelings for him.
Maybe it’s because I grew up with strict parents. So, I have very little freedom when it comes to many things, including expressing my true feelings.
If there’s one thing that I’m happy about in our family, it’s the genuine love between my parents. It’s just too perfect, and I wish that I could find that kind of love as well.
There have been a few suitors who have shown interest in me. So, I tried diverting my attention to them. I know that it’s not easy to reach a man like Travis.
But in the end, he’s still the one my eyes continue to search for; his handsome face fills my mind; his sweet voice I continue to hear; and his wide smile and sparkling eyes often appear in my dreams.
At first, I thought he would just remain a dream and a figment of my imagination. Not until that unexpected night happened.
We were in our second year of college, and it was a rainy evening in July when I discovered that my parents were planning to get a divorce out of the blue. I had just come home from school when I overheard them talking about that serious matter.
I was devastated back then. Yes, I had heard and seen them argue many times before. But it never occurred to me that they would actually make that decision, since I believed that fighting is also part of a relationship and is just a normal thing.
I ran away from home that night. I didn’t know where to go or who to talk to. I just kept running in the heavy rain. It seemed like even the weather sympathized with how I was feeling.
I didn’t mind the weird stares I received from the people I passed by. Luckily, it was raining, so at least I wouldn’t look too pitiful.
Eventually, my feet led me to a park next to a hill where there was a river. From where I stood, I could see the flickering lights of houses and towering buildings in the city.
I decided to sit on a bench under a lush tree and continue crying. I hugged myself as I felt the strong, cold breeze. Thankfully, I was wearing a jacket.
How could they make such a decision without even considering my feelings? I know I’m not a kid anymore, but they should still think about how I would feel. After all, I’m their only child.
Apart from that, I used to admire their love story so much. So, I never expected that they would let go of their bond so easily.
I could sense that I was starting to tremble because of the cold that enveloped my entire system, even though I hadn’t been exposed to much moisture due to my sheltered position.
If only the cold could also envelop the pain I’m feeling right now.
I am currently hunched over, gazing at the grass, when my vision was suddenly obstructed by a white handkerchief.
I couldn’t help but feel anxious. It’s only now that I realize there was no one else here besides me when I arrived.
But despite that, I mustered the courage to slowly lift my gaze towards the newcomer, accompanied by the rapid beating of my heart.
All the fear and anxiety I felt suddenly faded when I saw who it was.
He genuinely smiled at me. Suddenly, I forgot the reason why I’m in pain right now.
This is actually the first time that he has noticed me. And to make it worse, he saw me crying in our first official encounter.
I held my breath the moment our eyes met. For a second, it seemed like we were both lost in our own worlds.
I couldn’t believe that he was actually standing right in front of me while the rain kept pouring and as he held an umbrella.
“Are you okay? I’m sorry. I noticed you earlier heading towards the park. But it seems you didn’t see me because you were lost in thought, so I followed you. There aren’t many people here, especially at this time, so I got worried that something would happen to you.”
He handed me a white handkerchief. “But I know that despite the heavy downpour, tears are also falling from your eyes.”
I gasped at what he said. How could he...
“To be honest, I’ve wanted to talk to you for a long time. But I felt hesitant to approach you at the university because it seemed like you were avoiding me. That’s why I couldn’t help but wonder if I did something wrong to make you avoid me.” He smiled awkwardly.
I held my breath at his words. He was worried, so he followed me? And he has wanted to talk to me for a long time?
I was about to ask when lightning flashed, followed by the roar of thunder.
I flinched. I couldn’t help but scream and cover both of my ears. I could feel my whole body trembling, and fear was engulfing me.
But I gradually calmed down as he tightly held both of my hands.
It felt as if he’d given me assurance that everything would be alright. That there’s nothing to be afraid of, and he’s just there for me.
And then I suddenly heard him singing.
Slowly, I lifted my gaze to him. His smiling face greeted me as he sang in earnest. He was now facing my direction and sitting on the bench.
Indeed, he has a soothing voice that can make me feel at ease. And I still can’t believe that he’s actually singing in front of me right now.
In an instant, the thunder became nothing more than background music. It was the first time I was able to calm down, even amidst its continuous flashes.
Little did I know, that night was just the beginning of finally being able to reach him.
I was sitting quietly on the bench in the park near our place when suddenly my cellphone rang. I immediately took it out of my pocket. But when I saw who was calling, my heart suddenly sank. I took a deep breath before finally answering.
“Babe, why did you go ahead of me? Didn’t I tell you I’d come to pick you up?” His voice carried a mix of annoyance and disappointment.
I bit my lower lip. “I’m sorry. Just follow me here.”
I didn’t wait for him to say anything more and quickly ended the call. I glanced at the time on my cellphone. It was already past six in the evening.
A few minutes passed, and I heard the sound of a car coming to a stop. But I didn’t look back and kept my gaze fixed on the river in front of me.
I almost flinched when I felt his soft lips touch my cheek. I blinked as my vision was blocked by a bunch of red roses.
“Happy second anniversary and Merry Christmas!” Travis greeted me cheerfully.
That’s right. Today is our anniversary, as well as Christmas Day.
They can say it was a bad move on my part to choose to do this on this day. But deep down, I feel that now is the right time to make a decision I’ve been contemplating for weeks.
After the night of our first encounter, we became good friends. Until he decided to court me, and then we became official.
A dream come true, it is.
Travis has been a good and sweet boyfriend to me. Almost perfect, as they say. Just like what I wished for. Besides that, we are also one of the most admired couples at Hamilton University. He also never fails to surprise me.
He often picks me up and drops me off. He wants us to be together all the time. It has reached a point where I can hardly find time for my friends and the activities I used to enjoy before we became a couple.
Honestly, it felt so wonderful. I didn’t even mind the separation from my parents. I felt so loved and special.
But one day, I woke up with a feeling of suffocation. I wanted to break free and explode.
Whenever we go out, I’m not allowed to wear shorts, slightly shorter skirts, or even dresses. If I do wear such clothes, they should at least be knee-length, he says.
At first, I resisted because I was used to wearing those kinds of outfits. I’m not comfortable in pants. But as time went on, I just let it go to avoid any arguments.
Whenever my friends and I have plans, he often joins us. If he can’t, he always asks who I’m with. He would even request a picture as proof. And when my best friend Jairus is with me, he will also tail us.
I confronted him once about it because I felt he didn’t trust me. But his reason was that he just wanted to make sure I was safe and wouldn’t get into any trouble, especially when I wasn’t with him.
It’s not that he didn’t trust me, but rather the people I am with. Again, I let it pass. I love him after all.
During our friends’ drinking sessions, even if he’s with me, he still prohibits me from drinking. Then, all of a sudden, even before my seat got warm, he would suddenly suggest going home. Honestly, there are times when I don’t even want to bring him along because that’s my only time with my friends. But he’s still with me and always in a hurry to leave.
He wasn’t like that before. So, I was surprised by the gradual changes he started showing.
Then one day, the realization hit me. I slowly became distant from him. But I didn’t know if he didn’t notice or if he was just choosing to ignore it.
Until I completely lost interest. I’m in love with him. There’s no question about that. But I was also losing myself in the process of loving him.
Now I fully understand what my mom felt towards my dad back then.
That’s why I reached a decision. Where I choose myself and prioritize my own well-being.
“Babe, are you okay?” he asked, his face filled with concern.
I looked up at him and was met with his worried expression. I stood up, and at the right moment, he handed me the bouquet of flowers he was holding. Without hesitation, I took it and placed it on the bench before facing him again. His concerned eyes were now filled with confusion.
“B-Babe?” he stammered.
I took a deep breath before slowly letting it out, and I looked straight into his eyes.
“I’m sorry. Let’s break up,” I said.
He blinked, then blinked again. I could see tears starting to well up in his eyes.
I looked away. I couldn’t bear to see him like this.
I felt his hands gripping my shoulders, trying to turn me to face him.
“Why? Did I do something? Tell me, Babe! We can fix this, r-right?” His voice cracked, accompanied by a soft sob.
I shook my head, trying to hold back the tears that wanted to escape my eyes.
“I’m really sorry,” I said.
With a heavy heart, I turned away from him and didn’t look back, no matter how many times he called after me. He tried to chase after me, but I ran as fast as I could. I silently thanked him for not following me in his car.
I continued to run, distancing myself from the man I once loved. Along with the tears streaming down my face, the rain poured heavily.
Tears welled up in my eyes as I slowly knelt before her. I tightly held her hands and pleaded, meeting her gaze.
“Don’t leave me, Mara. We don’t need to end up like this. I’m begging you. If I have to turn my back on my family, I will. Just tell me,” I pleaded with her.
But she abruptly withdrew her hands and averted her gaze from me.
“It’s pointless for you to do that, Aljon. I don’t love you anymore. Just accept it. So, I’m ending our relationship,” she said harshly.
Before I could even speak, she completely turned her back on me. I was about to chase after her when our bodyguards grabbed me by both arms and forcibly dragged me towards the waiting car not far away.
“Mara! I love you so much, Mara! Don’t leave me!” I shouted, desperately trying to free myself from their tight grip.
“Let go of me!” I growled at them. But they didn’t flinch at all from my outburst.
So, I had no choice but to watch the woman I lov
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