An American In Manila

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Josie Helling stood on the sidewalk in the sweltering heat of an extreme Manila summer. She waited patiently for the car to arrive, deciding against ducking back into the building where it was definitely cooler. The text message positively said 2:30, it was now 10 minutes before 3pm, and the car was still nowhere to be seen. She was going to be late for yet another meeting. This didn’t surprise her anymore, being all too familiar with the horrible city traffic.

She had moved to Manila 7 months ago, accepting a job to head one of the new call centers that were sprouting up all over the city. It was a job she enjoyed, and the Philippines was a whole lot of fun. The people were laid back and easy and friendly, bars seldom closed before 5am, and she was living like a king — making U.S. dollars and spending in Philippine pesos. Manila was urban enough for a city girl like her, and yet one could drive a mere 70 minutes and end up on a beautiful beach with lovely white sand.

The only downside was that her love life, and her sex life, were virtually nonexistent. It’s not that she was unattractive, quite the opposite actually. She was a striking brunette with piercing green eyes, a rock hard body and a behind you just wanted to sink your teeth into. The glitch was Josie stood a good six foot one, and the average Filipino male stood at about five foot six. Sure a few of them were well over six feet, but she had only met the assholes. She was never hard up for dates when she lived in Chicago, but in Manila things were different. If the guys weren’t trying to nail the ‘white chick’, then they were just flat out intimidated by the ‘TALL white chick’.

Josie wished the car would come right now, so she could snap out of this mood. She was wallowing in near-depression, and she realized that had been happening a lot the past few weeks. Just then her phone rang, and she was thankful enough for the distraction. The call was from Luis, her new found best friend, asking her to be his date tonight to one of his obscure functions. Luis lived 2 floors above her condo, and they had met quite randomly in the elevator. She had stepped in and he had said to her, being the hysterically funny, albeit stereotypical, flaming gay guy, “Finally! Someone with Hollywood good looks has moved into my building! You know, you have an Olivia Wilde thing going on for you, girl!”

Josie liked him immediately.


“So what is this thing again?” Josie asked Luis as they were walking into a large hall filled with impeccably dressed people.

“I played in a charity poker tournament and came in second. This is the party they’re throwing to thank us for giving the money away,” Luis wasn’t even looking at her, scanning the room, mostly likely for good-looking men. “You’re gonna be my wingbitch tonight, chica. I haven’t been laid in 3 days. My balls might shrivel up and die.”

Josie tried her best to roll her eyes in sarcasm but merely ended up snorting out a hearty, but very unfeminine laugh. “Three days, you say?” Josie said, wiping the tears from her eyes. “So my vagina must be dead and buried, huh?”

“Ugh, must you mention your vagina! But okay I promise, I’ll be your wingman too,” Luis smiled at her. “Look around, girl. A lot of tall men around here. Or maybe you should rethink your standards and go for a shorter guy,” he cocked an eyebrow at her.

“You know I didn’t even know I wouldn’t date shorter men until I moved here,” Josie shook her head.

Luis had stopped listening to her. He had now turned around and was kissing the cheek of some woman. Josie couldn’t see her face, but the woman sure had a terrific dress on, and had the terrific body to go with it. “Josie, this is one of the charity organizers, Irene Martinez,” Luis turned back to her. “Irene, this is Josie Helling, she lives in my building.”

“How do you do,” Josie said to her, but was actually thinking that she was looking into one of the most beautiful faces she had ever seen. Almond-shaped brown eyes that turned up at the edges, a small, rounded little nose, and an even smaller mouth with the most luscious lips Josie had ever seen. Irene shook her hand and flashed a bright smile. Josie was mesmerized by the face, the eyes, the mouth! on the woman.

Irene’s rehearsed, plastered smile had transformed into a warm, sincere one. What a stunner this woman was! She was so taken aback by the beauty before her that she immediately forgot her name.

“So pleased to meet you, Stephanie.”

“That’s Josie,” the beauty chuckled.

Irene quickly shook her head again, “I’m so sorry. Josie. Please forgive me. You’re so beautiful, I just lost my head!” She didn’t quite know why she said that and immediately regretted it.

Josie was smiling while shaking her hand, “Well, if you’re going to keep flattering me that way, I’m sure I’ll forgive you!”

Irene could only blink. She was willing herself to come up with something witty to say, but her mind was a blank. She was so in awe of this woman, she was ignoring the tiny voice in her head telling her to calm down.

Before either of them could say canlı bahis şirketleri anything else, Luis had started chattering on, “Well, chicas, I must go around and mingle. Actually, we should all go around and mingle! You wallflowers are too beautiful to be hanging around in the corners!” And with that, he walked off.

“You could never be a wallflower,” Josie said to Irene seriously.

“I could say the same thing about you!” Irene whispered, unsuccessfully trying to cover up that she felt more than a little uncomfortable.

Josie smiled and looked into her eyes, “Should we go get a drink?”

Irene could only nod, not willing herself to speak, in case she came off as a clumsy fool again.

“You know coming here tonight was a favour to Luis,” Josie started. “I was prepared for the worst. You know,” she glanced back, “a bunch of snooty wannabes pretending to care about some cause so they could justify buying a 6th car.” Josie started chuckling.

“Well,” Irene began somewhat hesitantly, “some of these people are…” She didn’t know what to say next, and was grateful for the fact that they were walking one after the other through the crowd. She noticed the delicious curve of Josie Helling’s lovely butt and was glad to be able to stare at it openly.

“This must be quite the job! Hitting people up for money…” Josie said over her shoulder and quickly looked back. Irene immediately shot her head up, guilty at being caught looking at what she was looking at.

“Well… I… er… it’s… Oh look! I see the waiter!” Irene clumsily covered up her embarrassment and made a beeline for the tray of white wine.

She hurriedly walked amidst the throng of people and Josie chuckled softly. The job must not have been as easy as she first thought, since Irene was so desperate for a drink. That chuckle faded though when she got to see the back view of the woman’s dress. It was so low cut, Josie was afraid the crack of her ass might start showing if she turned a different way. But what she noticed even more was the light brown skin the dress revealed. She had never seen skin that looked so warm and smooth and appealing; and so inviting. She had quite a physical reaction to it and had to clench her hand on her side to keep from touching this beautiful, delicious creature. She was also fairly tall for a Filipina, Josie realized. Only a few inches shorter than her in her heels. And Josie guessed Irene stood about 5’6″ or 5’7″ in her bare feet.

Irene glanced back at her, as if to make sure she was still following, and gave her a small, almost awkward smile. Josie now wondered if the woman had known she was so intently checking her out. Josie was not gay, nor bi, but had her share of drunken make-out sessions with her girlfriends in college; and even went as far as a really sultry one night stand with an exotic foreign student in grad school. But she exclusively dated, and had relationships, only with men. Suddenly the most delicious idea hit her. Since she was so out of luck with the men in this city anyway, pursuing a dalliance with this scrumptious Asian goddess seemed like the best solution. Even if it turned out to be a dead end and she would still be stuck in her sexless dry spell, it would at least make for interesting times.

Irene finally had a glass of wine in her hands, and had motioned the waiter to also give a glass to Josie. She quickly gulped her drink, almost finishing it in one swallow. Irene felt so totally uncomfortable with the thoughts she was having about the stunning American she had just met. Even from the corner of her eye she could see the fine curve of Josie’s long neck, and couldn’t stop herself from imagining nuzzling her there. Irene almost choked, she had never ever had any thoughts like this about another woman, especially not one standing only two feet away. Get a hold of yourself, she thought, calm down and say something so she doesn’t think you’re an idiot. Irene made the mistake of glancing at her companion and was once again floored by the smile on Josie’s mouth and the twinkle in her eye.

“So, Irene…” Josie began, then was interrupted by a deep voice.

“Sweetheart, I just knew I’d see you here.” The man was tall, yet thin and pale.

Irene turned around in shock, and tried hard to hide the grimace that was suddenly on her face. “Richie, how nice of you to come,” she forced a smile.

“Of course, my darling. When I found this was a Martinez Foundation event, I knew I just had to be here,” the man gave her a toothy, sort of creepy, lopsided grin.

“Richie, I’d like you to meet my friend Josie,” Irene turned to Josie. “Josie, this is Richie Huang. Richie here is a regular donor to the foundation.”

“It’s nice to —” Josie was once again interrupted.

“I’m sure I’m more than just that, sweetheart,” the man now put his arm around Irene’s waist. Irene turned to Josie, her expression desperate.

Josie quickly came to the rescue, “It’s nice to meet you, Mr. Huang. But if you’ll excuse us, Irene and I were in the middle of a very important discussion. I’m sure you understand.” The man canlı kaçak iddaa turned to her, looking at her as if sizing her up, then broke into that practiced, fake smile once again.

He turned back to Irene, “We’ll talk again later, Reenie,” then gave her a wink. With that, Josie took Irene’s elbow and led her to the opposite side of the room.

“Thank you for that,” Irene gave Josie a nervous smile.

“Occupational hazard, eh?” Josie quipped, trying to make the situation a little lighter. “I’m sure you deal with all sorts of sleazebags in this line of work,” Josie squeezed the elbow she was still holding.

Irene felt electric shocks shoot from her elbow up her arm and felt like she was about to swoon. She quickly found one of the few empty cocktail tables and set her glass down. “No, not really. Richie is… uhm… he’s… ahh… well, I was engaged to him for the better part of a year!”

Josie couldn’t hide the shock on her face, and once again Irene gave her that nervous smile. “I’m sorry, Irene. It’s just I would never imagine you with a guy like that!”

Irene shrugged and quickly grabbed another glass of wine from one of the passing waiters, and took another huge gulp. She was obviously affected by seeing her ex and Josie couldn’t help but feel sorry for the woman. “Are you okay?” She asked gently. “Do you wanna talk about it?”

Irene started shaking her head, but before she could answer, Luis came rushing over. “Reenie! Reenie, there you are! You have to do me a favour.” They quickly got into a rapid exchange of Tagalog that ended in Irene waving a mock finger at him and Luis wearing a huge smile.

“Thank you, chica. I owe you one,” Luis kissed Irene on both cheeks then turned to Josie and took both of her hands. “I’m sorry, Josie. I have to go. I’m pretty sure you know why,” Luis winked at her. “Reenie here will keep you company and take you home. Don’t worry,” he quickly also kissed Josie on both cheeks then was gone.

“Please don’t feel obligated. I can easily take a cab,” Josie feigned embarrassment at the situation, but was actually excited at the thought she might be able to spend more time with Irene.

“Don’t be silly. I have my car and my driver here and it’ll be no trouble at all,” Irene smiled at her. “In fact, since Luis kind of ditched you anyway, why don’t we get out of here right now?”

Josie’s nerve ends were tingling at the idea they could be alone. “Are you sure? Don’t you kind of have to be here?”

Irene was once again shaking her head, “No, not really. The staff are all here. And all I really needed to do was make an appearance, which I obviously did.” Irene flashed her that bright smile then quickly looked around the room, “Besides, I don’t wanna run in to you know who again!”

Josie laughed softly, “Okay, how about we go for a real drink, and you tell me all about how that douche got you to say yes!”

“Alright!” Irene laughed with her. “Let me just call my driver to pick us up out front.”

Josie quickly grabbed her hand, “You can do that while we’re walking!” Then half pulled, half dragged her out of the ballroom.

Running out to the driveway, holding Josie’s hand got Irene all flustered again. She was all nerves and felt like an idiot once more. You have got to calm down, she berated herself. She’s just holding your hand! Girls hold hands all the time, Irene thought. But her whole arm was tingling, and she couldn’t stop herself from interlacing her fingers with Josie’s. Josie looked at her, smiled, and squeezed her hand.

This woman is truly drop-dead gorgeous, Josie was thinking. It was almost inconceivable how beautiful she is. She had a brief moment of panic about what she wanted to do, or was planning to do, but figured she had never felt so drawn to anyone in her whole life. Carpe diem, she decided, then looked at Irene again smiling.

Irene felt like she had the wind knocked out of her, and she knew it wasn’t from the running. One smile from Josie made her want to close her eyes and throw her head back, and at the same time never break eye contact, if it was possible. Then it hit her. It was attraction! What else could it be? The tingling, the shivers, it could only be a really powerful crush. This absolutely shocked the hell out of her, and thankfully the car was there and Josie wouldn’t notice how foolishly she was acting.

Inside the car, Josie smoothed her dress down and asked, “So where are you taking me?” She was breathless and her voice sounded strained. She made a mental note to try and contain her excitement a little better.

“There’s a little bar close to your building,” Irene began. She tucked a few loose strands of hair behind her ear. “It’s cozy and quiet and —” she stopped dead in mid-sentence.

Josie noticed she missed a few hairs and gently brushed them back from Irene’s face and also tucked it behind her ear. The touch was electrifying. For both of them. Josie’s fingers lingered a little longer and almost absent-mindedly caressed down her neck. Irene felt like her chest was going to explode. She dared not look at the woman beside canlı kaçak bahis her. It was the briefest of touches but it was almost like she was still feeling it on her skin. She could hardly breathe. She was willing herself to go on and continue with her sentence but she couldn’t even remember what she was saying. Even more so, she didn’t trust her own voice if she did decide to speak.

Josie couldn’t help herself. Irene’s neck just looked so smooth and tempting and she had drawn more attention to it by fixing her hair. She just had to touch it. And when she did it was like a magnet that wouldn’t release her fingers. She wanted to keep touching her and felt like she was going to go insane. Josie did manage to pull her hand back and now wondered if maybe it was too much. Irene had her head bent and was looking down at her lap, a shocked expression on her face. Control yourself, she thought. Don’t scare her away. Thinking fast, Josie decided to play it cool and pretend like nothing happened.

“It’s cosy and quiet and what?” Her voice was almost a broken whisper. Josie took a long, deep breath, “Irene?” There, that sounded half normal.

Irene was twiddling with the skirt of her dress, willing herself to respond. “It’s uhm…. it’s close to your… er… building,” her voice was shaking.

“Hey, Irene,” Josie decided to give them both a way out of that really intense moment. “Are you a little shaken up because your ex was there?” Irene now gave her a quick sideways glance. “You can tell me, you know. I mean, I know we just met, but I’m a pretty awesome listener,” Josie smiled.

Irene released the breath she felt like she had been holding forever, and finally looked up at Josie. She couldn’t help but smile at the sincerity on Josie’s face. “No. Honestly, I didn’t really care that deeply about him,” Irene felt more like herself again, the tension quickly fading. She broke out into a bigger smile, “Let’s just get to the bar and I’ll tell you the whole story. Even the sordid details. That is, if you’re still interested.”

“Oh I’m interested,” Josie was so relieved some normalcy had been restored. “Actually, I can’t wait to hear the story of how such a gorgeous woman like you would ever even give a guy like that the time of day!”

They smiled at each other once again. And Josie chose to fill the potentially awkward silence with mild banter. Making small talk about when she first moved to Manila, the shocking heat, the traffic, how everyone was always on a first-name basis, even with the big bosses. Soon enough they were chattering away like old friends.

As soon as they entered the bar Josie had to agree that it was, in fact, quiet and very cosy. Once they were seated, she was surprised to hear Irene say, “I can’t wait for a cold beer!”

Josie laughed her trademark unfeminine snort and said, “A beer? Really? I didn’t quite peg you for a beer drinker.”

“Oh believe me, I’ll choose a brew over anything else, any day,” Irene chuckled. “I mean, don’t get me wrong. I love my job, but charity formals and champagne dinners aren’t really my thing.”

“Then let me oblige you,” Josie stood up. “I’ll go get us some drinks and soon as I’m back you can tell me all about Mr. Rico Geeky Suavé!” She walked away hearing Irene’s adorable tinkling laughter.


“So when I turned 28, without any kind of serious relationship to speak of, my dad suggested meeting the son of one of his many business partners who had just come home from the U.S.,” Irene shrugged and made a kind of blah gesture with her hands. “We went on a few dates, and then a few more. And there was really nothing wrong with him that I could see, except I kept waiting to fall in love with him. The whole bells ringing, earth-shattering kind of love we always read about. But it never happened. Then before I knew it, we had been a couple almost 2 years and when he proposed, I figured maybe this was as good as it was going to get. So I said yes,” again that shrug and that blah gesture with her hands. “I’m sorry, is this really boring for you?”

“No! No, not at all,” Josie looked at her intently. “So what happened next? Why’d you break it off? Assuming, of course, that you were the one to break it off.”

Irene smiled, “I had heard rumours going around about his lifestyle but never really paid much attention to it. Then finally one day, a good friend of mine from high school who’s married to one of his buddies told me he enjoyed prostitutes. That he really enjoyed prostitutes,” shrug, blah hands. “So I confronted him. And he admitted it. Saying it was the only way he could do business.”

Josie was appalled, “I’m sorry, business?!? How does he conduct business with prostitutes? Is he a pimp?”

Irene had to laugh at that, “No, no! He isn’t a pimp. It was his way of wowing all the bigwigs around him, I guess. Almost like he was building some sort of street cred. The higher priced the call-girl was, the more he paid, ergo the more impressive he seemed to the other idiots he was in business with. You have to understand, see, that the Filipino male is one of the most backward in terms of double standards. The whole male ego, machismo thing is practically the norm here,” she laughed again, a heartier laugh this time. “He actually told me that they weren’t prostitutes, and that they were call-girls! As if there’s a difference!”

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