CHAPTER TWENTY FIVE
An enthusiastic crowd of youths and adults surged towards Rooney, as they cheered him on. Some were waving and some were applauding Rooney, who stood busy, signing autographs, and shaking hands with them, with a smile on his face. Katy’s presence soon showed in the crowd, but far away from where Rooney stood. She began to admire Rooney, as he signed more autographs, and exchanged embraces with his fans that were so ecstatic about the chance they had had, to meet their young protégé in person. Katy too desired a one-on-one with Rooney, but distance stood between her desire and its realisation.
“Wow! Look at the height he has seen himself in life,” she muttered. “That’s great. But should I continue to wait or go away?”
Katy got immersed in quick thought about what decision to take. She finally decided it was utterly useless waiting further. She concluded Rooney would have nothing to do with her.
“He won’t even look at me,” she said, and began to pull out of the crowd, on her way home. But she could not help but turn back again, after taking five steps away from the crowd. And she threw a glance at Rooney, who by chance, also took a look in her direction at that same time. They saw each other. Katy’s reaction was swift. She quickly took her glance off Rooney. She turned and began to walk away. “Katy, wait! Hey! Hey! Hey! Wait a minute, Katy! Katy! Please don’t go!” Rooney screamed as loud as his voice could allow, from where he stood. Katy stopped moving, but did not turn to face Rooney, who was now pulling away from the crowd, and making for her. Rooney got to Katy, touched her back gently, and smiled. Katy then turned.
“You’re a Star. Congratulations,” she said.
“Can I have your autograph on my cap?”
“Sure,” Rooney responded, as another smile came to his face. He looked so eager to sign for Katy.
Katy, who was dressed in blue Levi jean and white long-sleeved shirt, gently handed over the cap on her head to Rooney, who wasted no time at all in signing on it. Katy got her cap back within seconds, and thanked Rooney.
“I have to go now,” she further said, and headed off once again. Rooney was compelled to follow her. He in fact felt like talking with her.
“Katy,” he called. Katy heard her name. She had no confusion at all as to who had called. She stopped, and turned to face the approaching Rooney, who stopped as well, both looking into each other’s eyes now.
“Please don’t tell me you still want me because that’s a lie. I don’t want to hear that,” Katy snapped.
“Why are you talking like that?” Rooney’s response was quick.
“I already know what you want to say.”
“I’ve been looking to meet with you but found it difficult to find the time. The league schedule is so crowded with games. Thank God the season is ended and fate has brought our paths together again.”
“I’ve read and heard so much about your big break.”
“You’re everywhere and playing for one of the most successful clubs in London and England, even the whole of the United Kingdom.”
“Thanks. It feels great playing for Arsenal. Wonderful football club.”
“That’s awesome. You must be full of joy. Big life ambition accomplished.”
“You’ve been the missing link that my joy needs to come to completion.”
“That’s a big lie.”
“Believe me, Katy. I hope you don’t mind coming home with me.”
“Yes, my home.”
“Wow.... Who am I? Wow.... Who am I to get under the same roof with the king? ”
“Someone I need her listening ears. That’s who you are. And I’m Rooney and not a king. Rooney you’ve always known. Rooney you changed his diapers.” Katy smiled. Your diapers, she thought. Then she smiled again, and what followed was a giggle.
“Well, I love to listen,” said Katy, after giggling for the third time. “Fine. I will. I’ll do that,” she concluded with a smile.
“My car is over there.”
“Just come with me, and let’s take a ride.”
Rooney served Katy some Champagne when they got to his posh home. Katy sat down on one of the settees in Rooney’s lavish living room. He joined Katy with his glass of champagne, and sat beside her. He took a sip and kept his glass on the table in front.
“Stop looking at the ten years that is our age difference. It doesn’t really matter,” said Rooney.
“It does,” Katy countered.
“We have to move on from here.”
“Who’s the woman in your life? You’re a star. Don’t tell me no girl has worked so hard and succeeded in hooking you in. Don’t lie to me, Rooney.”
“None. Just believe me. What would I gain by telling a lie? Money, fame or what?”
Katy laughed. “Stop lying,” she said. “There must be a thousand and one of them around. They’re not giving up on you, are they?”
“I don’t notice them.”
“That is it! I am right. There are so many of them. Stop lying and tell me the truth I need to hear.”
“That is what comes with being who I am now. You can do nothing to stop them. I notice them only as my fans. Only as my fans!”
“When are you going to stop lying? Stop lying! Lies take no man anywhere good. They lead to nothing but pain.”
“I’ve never lied to you, Katy.”
“Oh...don’t even go there. Men do that a lot. My father looked my mother in the eye several times and swore he wasn’t having an affair. But only time later proved he was a big time liar who never respected the matrimonial bed he had at home. He used to bring some young girls home to do it with them. So how are you going to be different?”
“I will not lie to you, Katy.”
“Okay. Back to your numerous girls. Don’t’ tell me you don’t appreciate their body curves and contours.”
“I do not.”
“You’re young, rich and armed with a fast rising profile in your game.”
“And what about that?”
“Don’t lie to me, Rooney. Plenty of good looking ladies are not about to give up on you.” Rooney laughed.
“You’re funny, Katy.”
“They’re not going to stop until you cave in.”
“I’m caving in for no one but you.” Katy laughed in response.
“But I’m not pestering you. Rooney, you’re not asking me to marry you. Are you?”
“That’s the point! I am. If you rejected me because I was eighteen, will you still do it now that I’m nineteen?”
“What is your point?”
“I love you and I know you can see it all.”
Katy gently got up in silence. She was thinking now. Then she took a deep breath, after which she moved away, making some distance between she and Rooney, before stopping. She now backed Rooney who yearned to hear her speak.
“You did not ask me about the man who got me engaged,” said Katy. Her tone was steady, and appeared calm.
“That ring? Oh! Now I remember. It didn’t at any time make me feel I would lose you to another person. It was just one big fantasy that took you prisoner then.”
Katy’s first reaction was to quickly turn to Rooney with her dilated eyes full of amazement, as Rooney threw a glance at her fingers. “The ring is gone,” Rooney continued to speak. “I knew it would. A ring on the wrong finger. A ring to the wrong lady. See how time and fate make all things beautiful.”
“That was all you believed, Rooney?”
“Absolutely. My close friends say I speak words too big for my age, but I see it as being true to myself. It’s the way I am. It’s never going to change.”
“Wow! Your confidence intrigues me.”
“It was never going to work out between you and that person.”
“You knew it?”
“Of course. That famous singer belongs to another woman. Not you! I’ve always known it. Anyone looking to interfere with how fate runs its affairs must be crazy.”
“I’m where you belong, Katy, and you know it quite well.”
“I’m sure I know nothing.”
Rooney now got to his feet, in a bid to further drive home his point.
“Please, Katy, speak to me,” he began, his tone very gentle. “What you and I have always known is true about us.”
“What is the truth?”
“We love each other and are meant for each other.” Silence takes over.
If it’s a lie, why then does the name Rooney, keep resounding in my head? Katy’s thought began. If it’s not true, then how come I lost John that put a ring on my finger? If it’s not true, then how come I’ve kissed Rooney’s lips over a million times in my dreams?
Katy soon emerged from her thought sojourn.
“One thing I now understand with so much ease and delight is that our age difference is nothing but just a number,” she said.
“Rooney, you know what?”
“Until death do us part.”
Katy smiled after speaking. A large inviting smile stood strong, right there on her face. Rooney’s face too had no choice but to give a smile.
“Oh. . . Katy,” he said, inspired by enormous joy.
Both Katy and Rooney walked towards each other. And an embrace jammed them together. This embrace kept yielding lots of deep kissing, as Katy and Rooney stroked each other’s body. Interesting how inevitable their union had oozed on, pulling like glacier, slow, steady, grinding flat everything on its path. Far from running smoothly, never at all like warm oil on sparkling clean glass.