Eyes Wide Open

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Chapter 3

~May 15~

The ‘Meeting’ was not a meeting. I told Syphus I do not like surprises but...yeah. It was definitely a surprise. Everyone was wearing a black face mask but was dressed more then semi-casual in my opinion. I felt a little weird when I entered and saw so many people in the room. I didn’t know any of them. They knew of me. Syphus nodded to a woman in a shimmering blue evening gown and she came over to us. “Neelie this is Chia, She’s got something to show you.” Sy said letting the woman lead me away. He smirked as I looked back at him and lowered my eyes at him in suspicion.

Chia led me to a room across the main entrance and down a short hall. Once inside I knew immediately what was going on. The white dress I had picked yesterday was hanging from a hook on the back of the door. The room was a small dressing room. A cream and pink armchair was under one window and a matching plush bench was towards the center. A woman who had been sitting on the bench stood up when we entered. “Hi, I’m China, Chia’s sister.” This woman was the same body frame as the first and in a matching blue evening gown. She also seemed more bubbly than her sister. “We’ve heard so much about you.” China said helping me remove my shoes. I stood there in silent shock but smiled at her. I was also wearing a face mask, but you can tell when someone smiles anyway.

The sisters helped me undress then redress in the white gown. Fawning over me like they had known me forever. I discovered Chia was just as bubbly as her twin,

she just toned it down more. My makeup was touched up, my mask was put away, as I sat on the bench.

“Syphus is very lucky. You are just as beautiful as he described.” China said as she set my mask in a bag that was sitting on the armchair.

“Thank you.” I blushed.

The twins redid my hair in a wide bun, with the lower half of my hair draping down from under it like a veil. They had sprigs of babies breath that they stuck in around the bun. I just sat feeling awkward making the right comments here and there.

As I sat I thought silently to myself. It made sense to do things this way. Both of our families have been long dead. Our only friends were each other and Syntec staff. These strangers to me were his only family in this life. Why not set a wedding up like this. I smiled to myself thinking about the compassion Sy has in his heart. To treat his employee’s, staff, his ‘phantoms’ like family made sense. They are family, friends and sometimes enemies. Its how life is.

Once the twins were finished fixing me up they handed me a bouquet of red roses and white lilies before taking smaller matching ones. I was ushered out to the hall and behind four other ladies wearing blue gowns matching the twins. ‘I’m going to kick his ass later’ I thought to myself yet smiling. The feeling around me was not too bad. Everyone was curious and also happy. They enjoyed their jobs and each others company. The ‘Phantoms’ didn’t know what I looked like before now or very much about me other then I had made Syphus happy in a way they never saw before.

Apperantly before I returned into his life Syphus was a stone. His work was the only thing he cared about and progress. He appeared cold hearted and rough. No one seemed to see any happy or sad emotions from him until he found me again. No one said this, I could just tell from the way they all acted around him over the past 8 months that I’ve been out around them.

No one looked back at me to gawk or stare being completely obedient doing what they were asked, as we made our way. Once at the entrance to the main room I didn’t even notice when music changed. All I saw was a huge room Full of people. All of them dressed in black suits, Yellow, blue, or deep Red/Orange gowns and Black face masks.

I had to take a slow breath before stepping forward, Chia on one side and China on the other. This was Not like when I was forced to marry James Beyman. That wedding was nothing but a few words and a signature in front of a justice of the peace. I hadn’t wanted to cry but by the time I was standing next to Sy and he took my hand a tear had formed and threatened to fall. Everything after that was a blur. It took all I could to keep from passing out. The room full of all the curious strangers, the surprise of this event. We hadn’t actually set a date. Things before were so hectic it wasn’t brought up. The kiss at the end was what brought me out of my numbness.

Sy put his forehead to mine and wiped another threatening tear from my eye with his finger whispering, “Happy Birthday.” His eyes looked into mine and I melted into them. His mask had been pulled down for just this, but was around his neck waiting to be pulled back up. Smiling I whispered back, “I love you.” We kissed and everyone in the room stood and clapped. I could see Red standing next to the doors clapping with a slight smile on his face.

Like all weddings there was a reception after. Syphus and I stood in the entrance hall. People talked to each other and to Syphus, while the room was situated, tables added and such.

“I ought to kick your ass Nelson Syphus.” I said lowly but teasing and chuckling.

He smirked, “Yes, I know. Are you happy anyway?”

“Yes.” I smiled and kissed him. People were talking to each other and starting to file back into the main room so we followed. Once at the head table I leaned over to Sy, “These are all ‘Your’ people?”

“Yes, past and present employee’s.”

“Phantoms?” I teased smirking.
“Some.” He chuckled. But I could tell he was serious. I looked around the room slowly. There were three entrances to the room. The main double doors to the front and a set of smaller double doors, one on each side. Next to each of these doors stood two men, one on each side. They gave off an eerie vibe, like secret service men would. I couldn’t see if they were armed, but I assumed so as they kept their hands clasped in front of them at the waist and stood at the ready. On each end of our table stood another pair or men. Two men on each side not one. They glowed with obedience and loyalty. “Are you expecting something to happen?” I asked Syphus nodding to the men.

“No, but just in case.” He sounded calm when he answered. Below the surface there was something there though. Apprehension maybe. I tried not to think about it too much. But all the guards made it hard. Their eyes scanned the room slowly from time to time as if expecting someone to be a spy and jump out at any moment. Red was one of these guards. His demeanor was that of solid granite. He was completely unreadable no matter how hard I tried. This was probably a good thing, if I couldn’t read him then Deborah couldn’t either.

There was toasts given to us even though they didn’t know me nor I them. None of it seemed choreographed or recited. ‘How much did he tell them about me?’ I wondered as I listened repeatedly raising my glass of sparkling grape juice, not wine. Food was being set up on long tables at both sides of the room. The mix of smells was starting to make me feel sick.

“Do they know?” I asked through gritted teeth smiling.

“No.” Knowing what I was asking he set a hand on my leg. “Not yet.”

“The food smell is making me feel sick.” I said lowly.

He squeezed my hand, “Will you be ok?”

“I’m trying.” I said trying to take slow short breaths and keep a smile on my face. He squeezed my hand again looking over to me. I’m sure he could see how hard I was trying to hold it together as a look of concern crossed his face for a second. It didn’t last because a man at the back of the room, sitting in the shadows stood up for a second and asked for a word from the groom. This must not have been part of the plan as Syphus looked to the men on his left and nodded to them then to the shadowed man ever so slightly. The Guard nodded back then pressed something in his ear, a Bluetooth. All the guards where instantly aware and alert. None of them gave away that they were all looking with side eyes at the mystery shouter. I could feel the tension in the room kick up a notch which did not help my nausea.

Syphus nodded to the man, and stood. “Of course.” he started. He thanked everyone for being here for this memorable occasion and went on. I stopped listening, I had my attention on the mystery shouter sitting in the dark. I focused on him and could see a yellow glow coming from his form. The room was faux relaxed, but tense. I could feel others become aware of impending danger and they tensed up but didn’t move. They didn’t know where to look so didn’t. The more Sy talked the more the glow from the man darkened till it was orange. The man knew Syphus. I could feel anger rising from him and a mixture of confusion and forced wrath. This was strange. Why was he confused and hellbent on doing something dangerous? Had he been ordered to do so?

Syphus put a hand on my shoulder signaling me to stand with him. I did so with an honest smile and gritted teeth behind closed lips. “We have more happy news to share with all of you my trusted and loyal employee’s and friends.” Sy said to the room putting a protective arm around my shoulders. He was ready to push me outof danger if needed. I watched as a guard from each side of the room had been inching their way to the table with the mystery man. They were very close to him, they needed to move faster, his aura was getting darker almost bright red. I squeezed Sy’s hand hard trying to signal this to him. He cleared his throat as if to stall and signal at the same time.

“What news would this be, Nelson.” The mystery man said. It was the way he said ‘Nelson’ the prompted the guards to move faster and irked Sy. No one but me called him Nelson and I rarely did so these days. They all called him Syphus.

“Well Guest, My wife and I are expecting.” As soon as he finished saying this he pushed me down as the mystery man suddenly jumped up from where he sat wielding a gun and fired a shot. Everything seemed to happen in slow motion. I could see the man pull the gun out from under the table where he sat, stand up and aim towards us. The flare from the barrel when it went off made me blink which is when I felt the bullet brush my face. The second before I was down under the table I felt a sting to the side of my face but didn’t think anything of it. There was shouts and screams. I couldn’t see anything from under the table. A second shot was fired. I stayed down, but grabbed Sy’s hand trying to pull him down with me. I could see from under the table that there was some kind of bullet proofing secured to it.

Another shot fired, I could hear Syphus yelling at the guards, giving directions but not letting me pull him to safety with me. A bullet hit the plating on the front of the table making me scream. This got Sy’s attention and he looked down at me. “Are you ok?” he yelled through the cacophony. I nodded yes but then screamed again as another shot went off then Syphus fell to the floor.

“OH MY GOD!” I screamed. Blood was coming from the side of his torso. “SYPHUS!” I screamed again. It was too low to have hit his heart but I was scared it could have hit a lung. I grabbed the cloth cover from a chair and pressed it to the wound. Holding it there I grabbed the arm of the nearest guard and he radioed someone. I kept my hands over the wound pressing down hard. Syphus looked up at me obviously in pain. He wasn’t scared for himself, that much I could tell. “I’m fine. Your not.” I said to him trying to reassure him. “Who was it?” I asked. I didn’t know if he had an answer but I just wanted to keep him talking and awake.

“An old enemy.” He said struggling. Blood was still flowing from the wound and was coming out between my fingers. With one hand I grabbed another chair cover and put this one on top of the other one pressing down harder. This made Syphus groan in pain but I had to. It seemed to take forever before an EMT came and took over for me. I wouldn’t let go of Sy’s hand. The EMT’s almost wouldn’t let me in the ambulance until Syphus yelled at them. “THAT’S MY WIFE IDIOTS!” I sat watching them work on him, trying to stay out of the way as much as one can in the box on wheels.

By the time we got to the hospital Syphus had passed out from the loss of blood. ‘Our’ doctor met us there. By ‘our’ doctor I mean a Syntec Doctor employed by Syphus. No one was allowed to further treat him but Dr. Green. “I’m sorry but you have to wait out here.”

Green said to me with sympathy in his eyes. He meant the ER waiting area we passed through. I didn’t want to, I wanted to argue but took a seat instead. I sat numb, not knowing what was going on or what had happened.

Was this whole thing planned to marry me or to draw out an enemy? Was I being used? Or was the wedding the plan and not the ending? I didn’t know what to think so tried not to. I sat numb oblivious to the fact that I had Sy’s blood all over my hands and on my dress. Red arrived a few minutes after the ambulance along with Chia and China. The twins had a dress bag in hand but I couldn’t change until the police talked to me. My dress would be evidence. I looked at Red my face blank, “Who the hell was that?” I asked him. He didn’t answer just looked me over then waved an officer over. “I will wait for him.” He said before the police took me to a room around the corner. The twins were not allowed in until after the police questioned me.

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