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Kate’s Retreat

/ 06:30 AM March 12, 2017
ILLUSTRATION BY MAXIMILLAN N. VILLANOS

ILLUSTRATION BY MAXIMILLAN N. VILLANOS

Kate sifted through the legal documents in her hands.

This is intense, she thought. Do I really want to do this?

Kate was at a coffee shop a few weeks ago, working on her current novel and enjoying the smell and taste of coffee when a very attractive dark-skinned lady, named Stella, approached her and gave her a spiel that seemed too good to be true—a publishing deal of a lifetime and a guaranteed platform for release locally and internationally.

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For an independently published writer like Kate, it was indeed a golden opportunity.

There was a challenge, of course. She needed to write a crime story and attend a writers’ retreat in an undisclosed location. And it should not only be any crime story; it should be a true-to-life crime story that Kate had firsthand knowledge in.

Kate was a romance writer through and through and writing crime would be a complete departure for her. Plus the only crime story she could write about would be the sensational one that happened while in college, when a number of campus girls disappeared and were eventually found dead-raped and murdered by one man. A boy actually. A young student.

Kate didn’t know if she would be able to write effectively about something dark and sinister that hit close to home. That crime drew her closer to her best friend and batchmate Rob, who she promptly fell head over heels in love with. How could she not? He insisted on going with her everywhere. He even gave her full use of his car and driver—yes, he was rich as well as gorgeous. But for the most part, he never left her side until the culprit was apprehended.

Writing about that crime would mean writing about falling in love with Rob and remembering the heartache of not being loved back for most of her adult life. How could she write about Rob when she just realized she was in love with someone else? And that someone else, is a virtual stranger—well, not a real stranger as they shared four nights in four different countries.

What if Layne wanted to see her again? What if he contacted her again? Kate could not be off some place for a writers’ retreat where she couldn’t be reached. She might miss her chance with him.

But what if he happened to be connected to the publishing deal and by not going she missed him as well? The universe was cruel and perversely funny. How should she decide?

Stella was expecting her to get ready with a more-or-less completed manuscript and these signed legal documents.

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Rob was also acting strange, and Kate wouldn’t be able to NOT tell Rob about this, which would mean breaking one of the rules Stella gave her—no word about this to anyone.

And Layne. Layne just wouldn’t leave her thoughts. And every time she thought of him, her entire body reacted.

What the freak?!

She was no closer to a decision than she was an hour ago. She decided to update her author profile online. That’s when she saw a post that could only have come from Layne. He was asking her to meet him in yet another city outside the Philippines in a few weeks’ time.

Her cell phone beeped.

“Hello.”

“Hi, Kate.”

“Hi, Stella.”

“Have you decided?”

“I have.”

“And?”

“I have to pass this time.”

Stella was quiet for a while. “There might not be a next time.”

“I understand.”

“Okay. Kindly destroy all documents or evidence, Kate, and still, no word about this to anyone or on social media, okay?”

“Yes, of course.”

“Are you really sure, Kate? This could be a life changer.”

Kate closed her eyes. Layne.

“Yes, I’m sure.”

“Okay. See you around, Kate.”

“Thanks, Stella.”

“Bye.”

“Bye.”

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